C: Copa America, the iconic South American competition, is coming to 10 U.S. venues in June with six CONCACAF guest teams. Bracing for many player call-ups and the event dominating the soccer spotlight, MLS will pause for two weeks.
D: Upon his arrival late last summer, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba transformed the Montreal Impact into an MLS Cup contender. After winter speculation he wouldn’t return, the Ivorian striker is poised to wreak havoc over a full campaign.
E: Earnie Stewart starred for the U.S. national team for 10 years and won an MLS title with D.C. United before applying his acumen as a personnel executive with Dutch clubs. His latest front-office assignment: revitalizing the Philadelphia Union.
F: MLS has a reputation for disrespecting FIFA dates, week-long windows when most leagues hibernate while players report to national teams. MLS will again lighten, but not close, the schedule during those periods in September and October.
G: What will 2015 MVP Sebastian Giovinco do for an encore? Toronto FC’s pocket-size Italian attacker recorded the greatest statistical season in MLS history with 22 goals and 16 assists. Another golden year will swell his international market value.
H: Tim Howard, the U.S. World Cup star and longtime Premier League goalkeeper, began his career in MLS (1998-2003) and apparently will end it there as well. ESPN reported he is planning a summer move to the Colorado Rapids from Everton.
I: Injuries will impact every team, but no side will feel a greater sting at the start of the campaign than United, which lost goalkeeper Bill Hamid for several months with a knee injury. Andrew Dykstra and newcomer Charlie Horton will fill the void.
J: Few first-year American pros have stirred as much excitement as Jordan Morris, the Seattle Sounders’ homegrown forward who won the NCAA championship and Hermann Trophy at Stanford last season and is already in the national team mix.
K: Jurgen Klinsmann and MLS have a frosty relationship, but with the U.S. national team coach dependent on many domestic-based players for Copa America and World Cup qualifiers this year, both sides would benefit from a better rapport.
L: Orlando City’s Cyle Larin, a Canadian forward who played at the University of Connecticut, won the 2015 MLS rookie of the year award in a landslide after posting a first-year record 17 goals, tied for fifth in the league scoring race.
M: MLS Cup has featured seven different teams in the past four years, the only multiple appearance by the Los Angeles Galaxy. For the fifth consecutive season, the finalist with the most regular season points will host the final in December.
N: NYCFC made an expansion-year splash in 2015 by signing Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. Defensive atrocities, though, contributed to a 17th-place overall finish. Former French international Patrick Vieira is the new coach.
O: Entering his third season as head coach, Oscar Pareja is primed to lead FC Dallas to its first league championship. The Colombian has assembled an entertaining group that finished second in the 2015 Supporters’ Shield race.
P: The Portland Timbers are reigning MLS Cup champions, and with Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri keying the attack, they’ll remain in the mix. They did, though, lose Rodney Wallace (Arouca, Portugal) and Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna, Mexico).
Q: Qualifying for the 2018 World Cup will resume for MLS players representing several countries this spring. In CONCACAF semifinal round, the United States will face Guatemala twice late this month and play two qualifiers in early September.
R: Red Bull Arena is arguably the finest stadium in the league. And with the Supporters’ Shield winners occupying it, the Harrison, N.J., venue has become a destination to watch winning soccer under Jesse Marsch, the 2015 league coach of the year.
S: New stadiums have been sprouting all over MLS since Columbus opened the league’s first soccer-specific venue in 1999. Toronto will complete renovations this spring. Orlando is behind on its downtown project and D.C. hopes to break ground this fall.
T: Targeted Allocation Money sounds like something that crashed the economy. It’s actually a new MLS initiative that encourages teams to sign higher-scale players by offering financial credits, so to speak, that soften the payroll impact.
U: Although United is synonymous in MLS with D.C., the name is no longer exclusive: Atlanta United will launch in 2017. Minnesota’s expansion team (2017 or ’18) currently plays as “United” in the second-tier NASL, but Sports Illustrated said a change is likely.
V: Veljko Paunovic, who guided Serbia to the under-20 World Cup championship last year, is Chicago’s new head coach. The Fire had burned through four coaches in the previous six seasons. Paunovic, 38, was a Philadelphia attacker in 2011.
W: San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has scored 102 goals the past six regular seasons and, with 109 in his career, is MLS’s active leader. The 2014 U.S. World Cup forward, 33, is fifth on the league’s all-time list, 35 behind Landon Donovan.
X: Expansion remains a hot topic for MLS’s investors. Atlanta, Minnesota and a second Los Angeles team are on their way. David Beckham’s Miami project remains unresolved. Sacramento, St. Louis and San Antonio are in the running.
Y: Forward Yura Movsisyan, who departed Real Salt Lake after the 2009 championship season, is back in Utah. The Armenian national team regular performed at Krasnodar and Spartak Moscow in the Russian league the past five years.
Z: Zero. That’s the number of MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, assuring a 15th consecutive year without a regional title. D.C., Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake were ousted in the quarterfinals this week by Mexican foes.
SUNDAY’S LEAGUE OPENERS
All times are Eastern
New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC, 1:30 p.m.
Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake, 2 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. New York City FC, 2 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution, 3 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids, 3 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union, 3 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Montreal Impact, 4:30 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. D.C. United, 10 p.m. (UniMas)