Soccer MLS

MLS: 5 Teams Most in Need of Big Changes to Win

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5 MLS Clubs In Need Of Big Changes

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There are a number of MLS clubs that need to make major changes this offseason if they have any hopes of digging their way out of the MLS cellar.

Through a combination of poor management, lack of quality player depth, small budgets and simply bad luck, these teams, along with the fans who support them, would love to turn things around and be considered as serious title contenders in 2014.

While certain MLS clubs continue to finish near the top of their conference year in and year out (think L.A. Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo) others can’t quite seem to figure out what is needed to create a winning formula on the pitch.

Of course, when a front office continually fields a sub-par team that racks up the losses, inevitably attendance begins to fall. When attendance declines year-over-year, clubs then begin struggling to sign bigger name stars and/or designated players that are needed to not only compete, but also bring fans to the stadium. The end result is a lower quality of play as well as a missing vital marketing component – star power!

Why are these specific clubs so bad? What can be done to improve their performance? Why should supporters and players have faith that the 2014 MLS season will be different? Continue viewing this slideshow for those answers and more.

Chris Wimmer covers soccer for Follow him on Twitter: @Chris_Wimmer_77 or add him to your network on Google

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5. Toronto FC

toronto fc
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Having the worst record of any MLS team over the past three seasons (only 17 wins), Toronto FC also has something in common with another team on this list, D.C. United. That common thread is none other than Kevin Payne. Payne left D.C. in 2012 to join Toronto as the GM, and lasted less than one year before being fired. Ironically, during his time north of the border, Payne managed to help his former club when he traded them Luis Silva for allocation money. Silva was the leading scorer for D.C. United in 2013 with a measly three goals.

Toronto has finishes last or second-last in each of the past three MLS seasons.

Rumors have swirled around the club this offseason regarding the possibility of signing a big-name player to help turn the club's fortunes around. Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o and Brazilian forward Gilberto are two of the names being linked to Toronto so far.

Maybe new Toronto FC Assistant GM Greg Vanney will be able to put a winning team on the field for the supporters in Toronto.

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4. D.C. United

ben olsen
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Black-and-Red did manage to make it back into the MLS Playoffs in 2012, it took an MVP season from then captain Dwayne De Rosario. Rosario is now gone and United finished dead last in 2013 with a measly three wins. D.C. was somehow able to make a great run in the U.S. Open Cup and add another trophy to their case, but let’s be honest, last place and another season without a playoff game for the four-time MLS Champions must have the supporters cringing.

As a player for D.C. United, Ben Olsen was a champion. As the head coach, he's absolutely terrible. In his only two full seasons leading the club, Olsen's record is 20-34-14. That record has United winning less that 30 percent of the time. How he still manages to keep his job is a mystery to most. All loyalties aside, he simply has not proven to be a winning MLS coach.

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3. Chivas USA

chivas usa
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In each of the past three seasons, the “other” L.A. club has yet to finish with double-digits in the win column. With 21 wins total (one better than D.C.), the Goats have also finished two of those three MLS seasons in last place in the Western Conference. All the while, their roommates at the Home Depot center have won two MLS Cup titles. To add insult to injury, the club was featured in an episode of HBO’s Real Sports facing accusations of club-wide discrimination.

Dating back to 2001, the club has had four different head coaches and none of them were able to turn around the struggling team. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber even questioned whether or not the Chivas USA brand was good for MLS in two separate 2013 interviews, never a good sign for any pro sports franchise.

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2. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

It looked as though the Vancouver was headed in the right direction following the club's inaugural season in 2011. The Whitecaps went on to make the MLS Playoffs in 2012 led by forward Camilo Sanvezzo, who netted a league-leading 22 goals. The following season saw Vancouver fail to reach the playoffs again despite improving to 13 wins.

Rumored to have interest in former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley, the Whitecaps are looking for a top-flight coach to lead them into the hunt for their first Western Conference title in 2014. Vancouver will need to find a player to join Camilo up top and create more offense if the Whitecaps are to have any realistic hope of competing in the aforementioned difficult Western Conference. Kenny Cooper, Dwayne De Rosario and Fabian Espindola are all available to teams in the upcoming re-entry draft, and are players that could help Vancouver compete.

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1. FC Dallas

fc dallas
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing as the runner-up to the Colorado Rapids in the 2011-12 MLS Cup, things have gotten considerably worse each season for FC Dallas. Dallas has failed to reach the MLS Playoffs the past two seasons and unless big strides are made to stop the downward slide, Dallas will continue to struggle in a competitive Western Conference. Competing against big-money clubs like the L.A. Galaxy and Seattle Sounders will make it extremely difficult for the Toros to climb back to the top and be considered contenders any time soon.