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MLS Capsules

The Main Man: The MetroStars will turn to MF-F Youri Djorkaeff, 36, a member of France's 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship squads, to complement league MVP Amado Guevara and mentor emerging star Eddie Gaven. However, a hamstring injury has already sidelined Djorkaeff.

Fear Factor: The MetroStars replaced perennial all-star Eddie Pope with Jeff Agoos (37 in May), who must guide an unglamorous back line that yielded the most goals in the league last year and has to protect inexperienced G Zach Wells while veteran Jonny Walker recovers from shoulder surgery.

United's Dema Kovalenko, left, and Jamie Moreno had a lot to smile about last season. (Joel Richardson -- The Washington Post)

_____By the Numbers_____


Players on an MLS roster every season since 1996


Players with same team since '96 ( Cobi Jones, Los Angeles)


Original teams that have never played in MLS Cup (MetroStars, Crew, FC Dallas)


Teenagers on 2005 rosters


Players over age 40 (Preki of Kansas City, who will be 42 in June)


Current or former United players on Soccer America magazine's MLS all-time team (Marco Etcheverry, Jaime Moreno, Jeff Agoos, Eddie Pope)


Coaches in the MetroStars' 10-year history


Days in the MLS regular season (compared with 181 for Major League Baseball)

_____MLS Basics_____
MLS Scoreboard
Team index
MLS Section

Outlook: Could be another underwhelming year in the Meadowlands.

Western Conference

(listed in predicted order of finish)


Coach: Steve Sampson (second year).

Last Year: 11-9-10, lost in conference final.

The Main Man: Guatemalan MF Guillermo Ramirez takes over for Austrian playmaker Andreas Herzog, who faded in the California sun last year. Ramirez's top responsibility will be forming a chemistry with U.S. star Landon Donovan, who is joining the Galaxy after leaving Germany's Bayer Leverkusen.

Fear Factor: Defense could be a problem following the trade of Danny Califf to San Jose, but the addition of Costa Ricans Michael Umana and Pablo Chinchilla, rookies Ugo Ihemelu and Troy Roberts and former Earthquake Todd Dunivant will help Jamaican Tyrone Marshall and all-star Chris Albright.

Outlook: Los Angeles will almost always be a contender.


Coach: Colin Clarke (second year).

Last Year: 10-14-6, didn't qualify for playoffs.

The Main Man: F Eddie Johnson, 20, is coming off a strong MLS season, but what has excited everyone is his remarkable scoring pace for the U.S. national team. He'll be paired with high-scoring Guatemalan F Carlos Ruiz, who was acquired from Los Angeles.

Fear Factor: The signing of U.S. veteran Greg Vanney boosts the back line, but questions remain about the defense. Also, the team needs upgraded ball distribution from central midfield to make the attack click on a consistent basis.

Outlook: This year's surprise team may very well end up playing in MLS Cup in its home stadium on Nov. 13.

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