SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Coach: Dominic Kinnear (second year).
Last Year: 9-10-11, lost in first round of playoffs.
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)
The Main Man: F Brian Ching emerged on the MLS and U.S. national team scenes last year as a big-time goal scorer, but now he'll have to pick up some leadership responsibilities following the departure of veteran MF Ronnie Ekelund and defensive MF Richard Mulrooney.
Fear Factor: San Jose needs someone to influence the game from midfield and orchestrate the attack by feeding Ching and F Dwayne DeRosario and getting the ball wide to influential MFs Brian Mullan and Brad Davis.
Outlook: Improved defense will get them to playoffs.
Coach: Fernando Clavijo (first year).
Last Year: 10-9-11, lost in first round of playoffs.
The Main Man: Joe Cannon is the best goalkeeper in the league, the anchor in a strong backfield that permitted only 32 goals in 30 games last year. Colorado doesn't score a lot of goals (an average of less than one per game in 2004), so Cannon will need to be sharp to keep his team close.
Fear Factor: The attack doesn't seem much better, but Clavijo is relying on former Columbus F Jeff Cunningham and returning F Jean Philippe Peguero to provide a finishing touch and help the Rapids take some pressure off the busy defensive unit.
Outlook: Unless scoring improves, mediocre at best.
REAL SALT LAKE
Coach: John Ellinger (formerly with U.S. under-17 national team).
The Main Man: MF-F Clint Mathis could re-emerge as one of the best players in MLS -- as he was a few years ago before heading to Germany -- or he could become moody and slip out of shape -- as he was prone to do with the MetroStars.
Fear Factor: The proven talent is there -- Mathis, MF Andy Williams, MLS all-time goals leader Jason Kreis, D Eddie Pope -- but will Ellinger be able to put it all together and keep everyone happy while trying to sell soccer to a new market?
Outlook: Veteran attackers will win them a few games.
Coach: Thomas Rongen (formerly with D.C., New England and Tampa Bay).
The Main Man: While veteran MFs Ramon Ramirez and Francisco Gomez and young F Isaac Romo must produce, Rongen is on the hot seat to mold a winning expansion team right away and satisfy the club's sophisticated and passionate Mexican American fan base in Southern California.
Fear Factor: Preseason was marred by off-field issues, on-field troubles and several injuries, meaning it might take a few months for Chivas to settle on a regular lineup and find its way against the MLS establishment.
Outlook: Excitement has arrived, winning soccer delayed.