A look at the East teams that missed the playoffs

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Most seasons that end without a playoffs berth are usually considered failures. That may be the case for the five clubs that did not advance into the postseason from a tight Eastern Conference this year, but all five teams head into the off-season with at least some reason to feel optimistic about 2013.

From the Columbus Crew, who just missed the postseason, to lowly Toronto FC, each of the five clubs have positives to build on heading into 2013. There is no question that they are all in need of improvement, but the progress they make in the coming months will go a long way in determining if 2013 is a rebound year or another letdown season.

Before they become an afterthought to the current campaign, however, SBI takes a closer look at the Eastern Conference teams that missed out on the playoffs in 2012:

COLUMBUS CREW

What went wrong- A last-minute goal to D.C. United ended their chances of reaching the postseason, but Columbus only became a serious playoff contender late in the year after the arrival of Federico Higuain. Needed more offensive productivity earlier in the season.

Silver lining- Higuain showed in his short time in MLS that he is the real deal and his quality helped raise the games of many around him, and that nearly translated into a playoff berth for Columbus after a mediocre first half of the year.

Outlook- A full season of the type of productivity that the Crew showed as a whole after Higuain’s arrival should be enough to carry Columbus into the postseason next year.

MONTREAL IMPACT

What went wrong- Too often in 2012 did the expansion team suffer from a lack of consistency or defensive chemistry, which was to be expected.

Silver lining- The first year is over and done with and now the team head coach Jesse Marsch can build on 2012, namely the good soccer they demonstrated they could play at times.

Outlook- The Impact could make a serious push for the playoffs next season if they add some more depth and defensive bite to a team that already has enough firepower with the likes of Patrice Bernier, Felipe Martins and Marco Di Vaio.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

What went wrong- Just not enough goals were scored in Jay Heaps’ first season in charge. There were games when the Revolution’s more offensive-minded style of play did not translate into many clean looks on goal, and even when there was, no one aside from Saer Sene was able to put the ball into the back of the net consistently.

Silver lining- The club has some technically-gifted and creative players in the midfield to build a team around, but the need for another striker and a centerback to pair A.J. Soares with are glaring.

Outlook- Adding a goal-scorer would help the club tremendously as would figuring out what to do with midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who is too well-paid to leave on the bench but might not fit into Heaps’ system.

PHILADELPHIA UNION

What went wrong- Some questionable trades at the start of the year, a tumultuous coaching change that has led to a lawsuit and young players showing the growing pains that typically are associated with them.

Silver lining- There are some good pieces in place over in Philadelphia. With Amobi Okugo shining at centerback, Antoine Hoppenot and Jack McInerney proving serviceable attackers and playmaker Freddy Adu gaining a full season of consistent playing time under his belt, the future looks bright.

Outlook- The Union should be able to bounce back next season and reach the playoffs if they acquire one or two more quality pieces, especially a veteran forward who can finish on a consistent basis.

TORONTO FC

What went wrong- What didn’t go wrong? A coaching change during the first half of the season; the surprise and odd departure of Joao Plata, a key creative player, on loan; more disastrous defending; a season ending injury to star striker Danny Koevermans; a trio of arrests.

Silver lining- From Luis Silva to Ryan Johnson to Danny Koevermans, Toronto boasts some quality attacking talent that is capable of becoming even more potent with some more nurturing and time together.

Outlook- Things can only get better for Toronto FC after an abysmal campaign, but they will need to take some big strides and add more talented players this offseason if they are to reach the playoffs for the first time in club history in 2013.

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What did you think of the 2012 seasons for these teams? Which of the five East teams to miss the playoffs do you give the best chance of making the post-season in 2013?

Share your thoughts below

This entry was posted in Featured, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- Montreal Impact, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- Philadelphia Union, MLS- Toronto FC. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to A look at the East teams that missed the playoffs

  1. downintexas says:

    hahaha things can only get better. I hope they do get better in Toronto but it can still get worse.

    • Lincecum says:

      Losing their 3 top offensive players (Frings, Plata, and Koevermanns) won’t happen again. They have strengthened their defense, but this team needs a big time DP for the team to rally around. De Guzman wasn’t going to be that guy.

  2. dan says:

    is Paul Mariner really the answer in Toronto??

  3. PD says:

    To me the burning question is can the Philly attack gel? On paper they have a midfield and striker corp with the potential to become a legit lightning-fast tiki-taka team, but right now it’s only on paper. Is Hackworth the guy to get that sorted and bring that style and pace to this staring XI?

    Also, there are three big holes in personnel:

    1. I still don’t believe McMath is ready to be a #1. A veteran starting goalkeeper and giving McMath one or two more seasons apprenticing would really be in his best interest: this trial-by-fire stuff is not really helping him improve his game.

    2. At least one starter on the backline needs to be taller than 6′ in the U have a prayer at improving defense or set pieces and corners (Trouble there is Valdes and Okugo are both so good at CB…)

    3. They need a veteran striker that’s good for 10 goals (*cough* Peter-Crouch-as-DP *cough*). Heck with his height I think we could keep the backline short and have him defend on corners!

    • Elite Hunting says:

      Please tell me you aren’t seriously of the opinion that Peter Crouch is the answer to any team’s attacking problems? The real issue in Philadelphia is the terrible ownership that let Nowak trade away good young players and then fired him. Moving Sebastien Le Toux was horrendous player personnel mismanagement. Get a new owner because Nick Sakiewicz is a buffoon and his extending the interim job to full time for John Hackworth who did NOTHING after being promoted is further evidence that he’s an idiot. While he’s there, the team will be stuck in neutral.

    • Stracho says:

      I like Philly, but there is zero potential of them becoming a tiki-taka style team. They should play within their personnel which only affords a direct style attack (even after adding a couple more talented pieces).

      • James says:

        I agree tika-taka is a little optimistic, but do you really see direct in our future? It’s not just our defense that has a lack of height, ALL our players have a lack of height. And we don’t really have any pure speedsters or burners.
        And really, looking at possible playmakers like Marfan, Torres and Adu we certainly have player capable of spraying the ball around and picking out the nice pass.
        And Jack is the kind of striker who needs a partner to play off and really take advantage of his intelligent runs.
        In fact, I think Crouch would be the PERFECT answer to our problems. He’d provide height and power in our attack. He is the perfect compliment to Jack and brings a different dimension that our team doesn’t have.

  4. GSScasual says:

    lolphilly.

  5. Brad says:

    Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane must go and a strong soccer knowledge president/GM brought in that can operate with a clean sheet and ZERO interference from above – period.

  6. Lincecum says:

    Philly has shown a lot of heart down the stretch. They played well against some quality teams.

  7. Grinhouse says:

    Montreal has a solid core to build on. Their defense has the pieces in place. They need more depth in attack.

  8. Seamus says:

    Franco – With regard to the Revs, I dont think centerback is the problem. McCarthy and Soares are quality (actually I think McCarthy is better than Soares). Imagine that team with Oswaldo Alonso or Beckerman or Julio Cesar sitting in front of the back four. The Revs are missing something but its not a CB.

    • Sam says:

      Mccarthy is a good young player, but not the rock that NE needs in the middle. Alston and Tierney have not improved like they were supposed to. Soares is a good young piece to start with, but the defense needs help.

    • JG13 says:

      I agree 100% with Seamus. Simms has been a solid holding mid but he doesn’t have the bite that this team needs on the defensive end and Benny checked out on this season months ago.

      However, this still doesn’t address this club’s most glaring need – replacing Burns. The league rules will continue to drop talent into their laps but the low success ratio from players that Burns actively pursues isn’t going to allow NE to keep up with the rest of the league.

      Also, at this point, Jay Heaps isn’t a MLS caliber head coach. The team showed some promise early but it regressed as the season continued. His lack of experience is most evident during in game adjustments: he is consistently out-coached then resorts to blaming officiating in almost every post game wrap (in one way or another).

      • Barrett says:

        Some agreement and some major disagreement:

        - On McCarthy, I completely disagree. While his tackling improved, it was his propensity to rush into midfield late, not arriving in time to pressure the ball, but leaving a beautiful expanse of green behind him for opponents to exploit that cost us most often in defense. Of the games at home, I’d argue as many as a quarter to a third of goals we gave up could be chalked up to McC’s movement.

        - On Burns, I couldn’t agree more. I was astonished when the team parted ways with Nicol and promoted Burns, it was exactly the opposite of what I thought the team needed. Nicol seemed to be pulling results out of his behind despite rashes of injuries and a complete lack of quality options provided by Burns. During Burns’ tenure, the only trade I can point to as a positive for the team has been Sene. I can’t remember how Matt Reis came our way, so he might count as well, but that’s frightfully little for nearly a decade of work. In the meantime, several folks we’ve traded away have gone on to win Cups.

        - I didn’t expect Jay to be up to snuff in his first year. I’m willing to give him another and see where we are. If I remember right, Jason Kries looked pretty bad in his first year, but hoisted the Cup before ending his third. Time may be the answer for Jay, we’ll see.

    • Seriously? says:

      Add me to the group who is not all that high on McCarthy. I feel like the fact that he is young and athletic makes people hopeful about him, but we can’t be successful with 2 centerbacks trying to learn the position. If anything Sores regressed a tad this season, and I’d say it was because he was thrust into the position of being the more experienced CB. I have nothing against the guy, but as a player, I’d say they should get an experienced CB, and McCarthy should either be a sub, or go somewhere else where he can learn from another experienced central defender. I’d say Sores is definitely superior, and I can’t see us being successful next year with the 2 of them still trying to learn the professional game, with McCarthy definitely having more to learn.

  9. Sam says:

    Columbus and Montreal are the cream of this crop….I expect to see them in the playoffs next season.

    If the season was longer, I think the Crew would have squeezed in. Montreal needs some attacking depth.

  10. Reg says:

    Sene/Bengston/Fagundez is a young striking group with a lot of potential. Heaps needs to figure out how to get them the ball.

  11. stpauljosh says:

    I’m just happy that DC’s not in this conversation this year.

  12. Ryan Johnson is not a silver lining for TFC.

    7 goals in 30 games played and 4 assists? 67 shots – 23 on goal. 0/1 on pk.

    He needs to see a shrink because he can’t finish. As someone pointed out at the beginning of the season, it’s one of the reasons San Jose traded him. A lot of promise, but the end product never resulted in goals and he continues to disappoint with his lack of finishing.

    They need another striker to compliment the work Koevermans did. He is the finisher.

  13. Stan says:

    Columbus did not get that much better results with Higuain and Arrieta than they had before, essentially the same number of goals for and against. The defense got worse as the offense got better, giving up leads in several crucial games, often fairly early. Veterans Marshall and James didn’t play well together late, perhaps due in part to injuries. Williams played left instead of center. Surprise team MVP goalie Gruenebaum had more saves than any other keeper, meaning a lot of shots on goal given up. else. Crew climbed back in the race with late time wins, but had too many ties or losses against teams at the bottom of the standings. Dour coach Warzycha is unpopular with many fans for his lineups, injury losses and comparison with his MLS Cup winning predecessor, although the team’s 5 year run is impressive given the low budget and small market in a league that continues to add large markets and sign higher cost players. Crew fans are optimistic that having Higuain and Arrieta all season, perhaps with some additional defense, development by young players like Duka and Meram, and fewer injuries will put the Crew over the hump and into the playoffs again. However the front office needs to keep up with the rest of the league