MLS teams kick off their preseason activities this weekend. Click through to sort through some of the biggest outstanding questions as camps open. -- Text by Kyle McCarthy
Is Steven Gerrard ready to play an integral role for LA Galaxy?
Gerrard spoke frankly to reporters this week about the difficulties he encountered when he arrived last summer. After grappling with those issues and preparing himself physically, Gerrard is in a better spot to make a mark on MLS now. He must assert himself quickly to ensure the revamped Galaxy midfield starts to click.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
What can we expect from Patrick Vieira’s New York City FC?
The former Arsenal legend must mold a cohesive unit out of a midfield-heavy squad seemingly incapable of playing at a high tempo for extended periods of time. Vieira said in his introductory press conference that he wanted to push high up the field to unsettle teams, but he may not have that luxury with Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo entrenched in midfield. Look for Vieira to adapt accordingly to make the best use of the parts available and mask the defensive frailties as best as he can.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY SportsNoah K. Murray
Will Didier Drogba play for Montréal Impact this season?
Everything went silent surrounding Drogba at the turn of the year. Is he heading back to Chelsea? Is he staying with the Impact? No one is quite sure how it will turn out, though MLS commissioner Don Garber’s recent comments about Drogba’s contractual links to the Impact certainly hint at the layers in this story. Montréal must sort out the situation with haste in order to plan for the upcoming campaign.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY SportsEric Bolte
Is Toronto FC finally ready to contend for MLS Cup?
TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko spent this offseason acquiring seasoned MLS campaigners to strengthen the Reds’ squad. Those arrivals -- including goalkeeper Clint Irwin, right back Steven Beitashour and midfielder Will Johnson -- increase the depth within the ranks and reinforce the starting XI. They also constitute the sort of additions good MLS teams make when they want to pursue grander objectives. The pressure is now on TFC coach Greg Vanney to pull everything together and steer the Reds through a tricky eight-match road trip to start the season.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SpoJohn E. Sokolowski
How often will Jordan Morris play for Seattle?
Few players attracted quite as much attention as the 21-year-old United States forward this winter. His decision to sign with Seattle on Thursday offered the Sounders a considerable boost heading into preseason. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid told FOX Soccer he planned to use a “three-pronged attack” more regularly this season. Look for Schmid and the Sounders to integrate Morris quickly after he completes his U.S. duties and work out some of the kinks with a revamped tactical setup. If Morris adjusts promptly, then he should take the field regularly.
APTed S. Warren
Are the Red Bulls ready for their encore?
New York Red Bulls opted to reward some of their key figures -- including club captain Dax McCarty (pictured) -- during the close season in a bid to maintain continuity. Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch installed his high-pressure system last season and reaped the considerable benefits. It is now on everyone involved to match that level of output and tinker accordingly as teams try to knock the Red Bulls off their Supporters’ Shield perch.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
Does Vancouver have enough attacking pieces in place to take the next step?
Whitecaps boss Carl Robinson desperately needed more options in the attacking third to provide support for Pedro Morales, Nicolas Mezquida, Kekuta Manneh and Octavio Rivero. The arrivals of Christian Bolaños (another creative influence to provide the telling ball) and Masato Kudo (another striker to relieve the burden on Rivero) diversified the options considerably. It is now on the Whitecaps to integrate those players and use them to produce more reliably from the run of play this season.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY SportsWinslow Townson
Who exactly will play in central defense for Chicago?
Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said the club is chasing several experienced European-based center backs ahead of the upcoming season. The decision to pass on Joshua Yaro in the SuperDraft underscored the desire to fill that need elsewhere. Chicago must act quickly in order give Veljko Paunovic enough time to establish a firm foundation during preseason.
Andy Mead/MLSAndy Mead/MLS
How much will Bill Hamid's absence hurt D.C. United?
Hamid is expected to miss the next 4-6 months after right knee surgery earlier this week. His one-man show offered United more cover than it probably deserved for its imprecision in possession. United coach Ben Olsen told the Washington Post that he expects to bring in a veteran goalkeeper to compete with backup Andrew Dykstra as Hamid recovers. The onus falls on the rest of squad to figure out a way to provide the new number one with more cover as the season approaches.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
Does the truncated preseason give Champions League teams enough time to prepare?
The first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League beckons on Feb. 23. That date gives the four remaining MLS teams -- D.C. United, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders -- a month to prepare for those ties. It is a quick run-up for players to get into shape and for teams to work themselves into the proper positions to compete with in-season Liga MX sides.