Around Major League Soccer: Clubs in preseason mode

Plenty of happenings, as season draws near

Houston Dynamo Macoumba Kandji

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Less than a month remains before Major League Soccer raises the curtain on its 2012 season, and there is plenty happening among the 19 league clubs.

Preseason is in full swing, with training matches having taken place across North America during the past week. While players work hard to get fit for the 17th MLS campaign, coaching staffs continue to assess their squads and make appropriate changes.

A closer look, shall we…

Eastern additions

Four Eastern Conference clubs were busy adding new faces to their squad in the past week. Philadelphia Union hope they have found a suitable replacement for the departed Sebastien Le Toux with the acquisition of Colombian striker Lionard Pajoy. New England Revolution, meanwhile, continued their makeover with the free transfer signing of French forward Saër Sène from German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

As for midfielders, New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe used his Scandinavian connections to acquire Icelandic midfielder Victor Palsson from Scottish Premier League club Hibernian FC. Arch-rivals D.C. United, meanwhile, signed an experienced MLS campaigner in Marcelo Saragosa. The Brazilian midfielder will be hoping to forge a good relationship with last season’s MLS Most Valuable Player Dwayne De Rosario – for whom United are keen to extend the Canadian international’s contract in the American capital.

Move in the West

Two Western Conference clubs made notable moves in the past seven days. MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy raised some eyebrows by taking midfielder Juninho on a second season-long loan spell from Brazilian club São Paulo FC. Last Wednesday, Colorado Rapids traded striker Macoumba Kandji to Eastern Conference side Houston Dynamo in exchange for a conditional draft pick.

Backline concerns

Montreal Impact’s build-up to their first season in MLS has been an interesting one. The latest news surrounding the Quebec-based outfit concerns the fitness of Colombian centre back Nelson Rivas. The former Internazionale defender has been sidelined from preseason training with a thigh injury, with reports suggesting the South American import may be out of action for some time.

With 2011 MLS Expansion Draft pick Bobby Burling still to agree to a contract with Montreal, Impact head coach Jesse Marsch has some decisions to make with his backline selections. He has played different centre-back combinations in the past couple of friendly games, and it will be interesting to see if the Impact make moves to add new faces in their defensive corps. As it stands, the likes of Shavar Thomas, Tyson Wahl, top MLS SuperDraft pick Andrew Wenger, and trialist Nevio Pizzolitto may come into consideration when Montreal start life in MLS versus Whitecaps FC in Saturday, March 10.