Chris Armas needs to find a way to boost the Red Bulls back toward the top of the MLS Eastern Conference (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
So, who are the area soccer personalities we should watch in 2020?
Here are a dozen of them we should keep an eye on:
- NYCFC coach – whoever that might be
Yes, as of Sunday night, New York City FC still did not have a coach for the 2020 MLS season. Whoever it might be — Valerenga head coach Ronny Deila reportedly could be named this week — can Dome Torrent’s successor duplicate the regular season success of last season and actually go past the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time?
- Chris Armas
Can the Red Bulls head coach leave the 2019 behind and guide the Red Bulls up the standings? They won the Supporters Shield crown three of the last six seasons — albeit with no MLS Cup championships to celebrate — but the supporters have become accustomed to regular season glory and not mediocrity of a 14-14-6 record and a sixth-place finish.
- Maxi Moralez
Can the NYCFC midfielder duplicate his remarkable 2019 season in 2020? Moralez recorded seven goals and became only the third player to crack 20 assists in a season. While asking for another 20 assists might be too much to ask of any player, if Moralez can run things again, City could go places again, at least in the regular season, and perhaps the playoffs. Just keep the all-star midfielder away from penalty kicks, ok?
- Freya Coombe
With Sky Blue FC playing at Red Bull Arena on a regular basis for the first time, the National Women’s Soccer League will be under a microscope more than ever. Can Coombe raise the standard of play and not only make Sky Blue more competitive, but turn the side into a playoff team?
Kaku endured a rather bumpy season, especially after the Red Bulls refused to transfer him to Club Mexico. He accidentally smashed a fan in the face with the ball and was inconsistent. Can he play up to his potential and get the team facing in the right direction?
- Carlos Mendes
After missing out on three championships over three seasons, can the former MetroStars/Red Bulls and Cosmos standout get the Cosmos over the hump as coach of the team? The team has been very good in the regular season but has fallen short in the playoffs.
- Rocco B. Commisso
We haven’t heard much from Commisso in recent months, but he could wind up in the spotlight again. The North American Soccer League’s anti-trust lawsuit, led by Commisso, against U.S. Soccer is expected to come to trial this year. Also, with Commisso purchasing Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A, what exactly will be his commitment to the Cosmos?
- David Villa
While Queensboro FC won’t compete in the USL Championship until 2021, Villa will be putting together a team this year, as he will select a coach and help stock the roster. Can he put together a team that will be competitive and vie for the post-season next year?
- Aaron Long
Long will be under the microscope on several fronts — with the Red Bulls, who need to solidify their defense after an inconsistent 2019, with the U.S. men’s national team, which will begin its Concacaf hexagonal run in September, or even himself as a possible transfer to a team in Europe.
He enjoyed quite an MLS debut in 2019, collecting at least point a game with NYCFC (15 goals and four assists) in 18 games. Can the Brazilian striker duplicate his production and stay healthy to keep City not only in the playoff mix but in Eastern Conference contention?
- Ryan Meara
After waiting since 2013 to reclaim his starting spot, the former Fordham University standout will have a golden opportunity to tend goal for the Red Bulls again in the wake of ironman keeper Luis Robles’ release from the team. While he has demonstrated it during the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and some regular-season cameos, can Meara be consistent during the 34-game season?
- Brian White
With Bradley Wright-Phillips jettisoned by the Red Bulls, can the 23-year-old striker put in a full season and become a dominant forward in MLS? In essentially half a season, White contributed nine goals in 19 games. Double that and you have an 18-goal season. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski lead all American strikers in MLS with 15 goals.