MLS: Top 5 contenders to win MLS Cup

MLS, Seattle Sounders (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
MLS, Seattle Sounders (Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /
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New York City FC, Maxi Moralez
CARSON, CA – MAY 11: Maximiliano Moralez #10 of New York City celebrates his goal during the Los Angeles Galaxy’s MLS match against New York City FC at the Dignity Health Sports Park on May 11, 2019 in Carson, California. NYCFC won the match 2-0 (Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images) /

4. New York City FC

New York City FC were the East’s top team in 2019 and lost just once at home all year. They were the closest team to Los Angeles FC and see the majority of that team return 2020. In fact, they bring back the most starting minutes from last year (92%) of any team. The lone departure of note is defender Ben Sweat. Taking up some of those minutes will likely be Gudmundur Thorarinsson, who can play either left-back or center-back. He joins from the Swedish league while having also played in Norway and Denmark.

Despite all the regular-season success, New York was one and done in the playoffs, losing 2-1 to Toronto in the conference semi-finals. If early indications are anything to go off, NYCFC could and should be picking right back up from where they left off last season — at least picking up from the regular season.

They began their competitive season early with a 5-3 CCL win last week against AD San Carlos which included a hat-trick from Heber. Heber didn’t have perfect health last year but did score 15 times in 18 starts. He has legitimate Golden Boot aspirations if he stays healthy.

Why can’t NYCFC be in the running for MLS Cup?, Well if Maxi Moralez misses any significant time for one. He had seven goals and 20 assists last season and runs the New York midfield. With him they’re great. Without, not so much. The ball is also in new head coach Ronny Deila’s court to not mess up a good thing. Domenec Torrent departed after last season, so in comes Delia who has previously won titles with Celtic and Stromsgodset. However, the latest line on his coaching resume is a 10th place finish in the Norwegian league with Valerenga. That’s not super encouraging. But this team is still loaded and could very easily finish tops in the East once again.