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April 16th marked the first MLS games of the season, and it's a huge season for the leauge. Many new names are set to appear, including Austin FC, who many have labeled as the ‘villians’ of the MLS. Austin FC are amongst many teams who aren’t as favored to do great compared to the likes of LAFC, Seattle Sounders, and the reigning champions, Columbus Crew, but I think these teams will surprise a few people and have a playoff season.
Without further adieu, here’s my list of 3 teams to look out for during the 2021 MLS season.
3. Austin FC
Austin FC have been underestimated constantly going into this season. Due to the fact Austin hasn’t signed a ‘flashy’ player like Atlanta did with Miguel Almiron and Joesf Martinez, Austin has instead gone with a strong MLS based squad. MLS vets like Matt Besler and Alexander Ring as well as USMNT outside back, Nick Lima.
Another player to look out for is 21 year old shot stopper, Brady Scott, who played for FC Koln in Germany and most recently Nashville SC.
Led by former USMNT assistant Josh Wolff, Austin is in prime position to have a really solid season with a lot of players who know the ins and outs of the league. This is a team who may not look the flashiest on paper, but will get it done and make the right decisions for 90 minutes.
(Also, check out the Austin FC fans, some of the most underrated in the league. Can’t wait until stadiums go back to full capacity because the world will see what Austin fans have to offer!).
2. New England Revolution
The New England Revoluton have been clicking this preseason, and I believe that will continue into the regular season.
The Revs are a team that had an unexpected deep playoff run last year, eventually falling 1-0 to the eventual MLS Cup Champions, Columbus Crew, in the eastern conference finals.
Led by Gustavo Bou, a River Plate product who loves to get on the scoresheet, the Revs have a nice returning squad and the best goalkeeper in the league, Matt Turner.
New Engalnd also has a very underrated youth core going, led by Canadian international, Tajon Buchannan, who has been ripping it up the past few months for team Canada. If Buchanan can continue his amazing run of form into the season, he will not only put himself at the top of the MLS forward list, but he could very well land a move to Europe.
The Revs also have players such as Henry Kessler, a Red Bulls youth product who played two years at the University of Virgina. Kessler was drafted by the Revs in 2020 and recently appeared for the US u23s in Concconcaf olympic qualifying.
Overall, the Revs have a good, solid young squad that can put the ball in the back of the net (and keep it out). Don’t be surprised if they have another deep run this year.
1. Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami disappointed in the clubs inaugural season last year. Led by Lewis Morgan and Gonzalo Higuain up front, many thought Inter would be a lock for the playoffs. However, they didn’t.
Inter had a great offseason. After letting go head coach, Diego Alonso, David Beckham and the boys in black and pink hired Manchester United legend, Phil Neville, as head coach.
Miami has also called up 16 year old, Felipe Valencia, and signed the 2005 born as their first ever homegrown player. Felipe tore it up in the USL League 1, and beat Alphono Davies record of youngest player to score in the USL.
The Miami squad has many big name stars from Europe such as 2018 World Cup winner, Blaise Matuidi, mexican legend, Rodolfo Pizzaro, and recent signing, Ryan Shawcross.
Pizzaro, 27, is in the prime of his career and Phil Neville told the Mexican superstar to expect ‘100 touches’ a game. Meanwhile, the unexpected signing of Ryan Shawcross gives Inter Miami a much needed leader and helps tighten up the backline.
Inter Miami finally has a squad that is complete from left to right and they had a much needed wake up call last year. The disappointing season set David Beckham and his crew back to reality and now they’re not messing around. For Inter Miami, it’s now or never.
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All Editorials written by Chris Dailey