Latest on Chicharito, Gabriel Heinze and Seattle Sounders ahead of MLS return

This week brings the start of the 26th MLS season and the league is hoping this one gets a little back to normal with fans at games and a full regular season.

Last year's campaign was interrupted by COVID-19 in March and resumed with a group play tournament in Orlando in July.

The rest of the regular season was a start and stop approach as numerous teams had COVID outbreaks and had to go into pause or even quarantine. The playoffs went off without a hitch and Columbus Crew lifted the trophy.

Columbus Crew celebrate their MLS Cup win over Seattle Sounders
Columbus Crew celebrate their MLS Cup win over Seattle Sounders

Among the moves the champions made in the offseason was signing goal scoring Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips. The former Southampton striker has over 100 MLS goals and he scored eight times in 19 games for LAFC last season.

Chicharito Desperate for Bounce Back

Things did not go according to plan for former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Chicharito in his MLS debut in 2020. The LA Galaxy struggled from the outset last year and never found their footing during the season and missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

Chicharito endured a disappointing first season in the MLS
Chicharito endured a disappointing first season in the MLS

Chicharito signed a three-year contract with MLS and LA Galaxy after a stint with Sevilla. He was briefly the highest paid player in the league before Inter Miami signed Gonzalo Higuain last summer.

Chicharito was limited to 12 games last season and he scored just two goals in the process The 2021 season represents a new opportunity for both player and club as former Toronto FC manager Greg Vanney takes over on the sidelines.

LA Galaxy are far from favourites to win the MLS Cup this year. They are currently priced at 25/1 with William Hill.

Gabriel Heinze has Atlanta United Looking Up

Things have already started off on the right foot for Atlanta United and new manager Gabriel Heinze. The Five Stripes beat Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League 1-0 in Costa Rica last week.

Heize, who played for Manchester United, PSG, Roma and Real Madrid among others, is in his first year managing outside his native Argentina. Atlanta United won all four of their preseason matches, by a combined score of 16-2.

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After sacking Frank de Boer in July, Atlanta went on to miss the MLS Cup Playoffs despite having a talented roster that includes goalkeeper Brad Guzan, defender Miles Robinson and Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Barco. The Five Stripes welcome back Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez who missed all of 2020 with an ACL tear.

Atlanta are currently priced at 20/1 with bet365 to win the MLS Cup.

Sounders Start Season Hurting

The defending Western Conference champions, Seattle Sounders, already have gaps to fill as the 2021 season is set to begin. They lost star striker Jordan Morris for the season when he tore his ACL while on loan with Championship side Swansea City in February.

Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer
Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer

Now comes news that midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro could miss the first month of the season. Head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters this week that Lodeiro is day-to-day but he and left back Jimmy Medranda were both injured in training this week.

There was good news for the Sounders as striker Raul Ruidiaz finally returned to Seattle this week. The Peru native was back home for the off-season and had complications acquiring a green card to allow him to return to the US for preseason action. The 30-year old led the Sounders in scoring last season and had clutch goals down the stretch as Seattle returned to the MLS Cup Final.

Seattle are currenlty priced at 10/1 to win the MLS Cup with bet365.

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