SPORTING KANSAS CITY
LAST YEAR: 17-10-7 (Second place overall, second in Eastern Conference. MLS Cup champion.)
WHO'S BACK: F Dom Dwyer, F Claudio Bieler, F C.J. Sapong, F Soony Saad, M Paulo Nagamura, M Graham Zusi, M Benny Feilhaber, M Oriol Rosell, M Jacob Peterson, D Aurelien Collin, D Seth Seinovic, D Chance Myers, D Matt Besler, D Ike Opara.
WHO'S GONE: G Jimmy Nielsen, F Teal Bunbury, D Kyle Miller, D Federico Bessone.
WHO'S NEW: M Sal Zizzo, M Jimmy Medranda, M Alex Martinez, G Andy Gruenebaum.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The MLS Cup champions will be busy this season. Not only will they be defending their league title, they'll also begin play in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, and then later in the year begin the next round of Champions League competition. There's also the U.S. Open Cup to worry about, and several players are likely to be called up for national team duty during the World Cup. Managing all of those minutes may be the biggest challenge for coach Peter Vermes, and it's why he spent considerable resources in building depth. Keep an eye on young players such as Dom Dwyer, a breakout star last season, and 16-year-old homegrown defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who has been receiving interest from English Premier League teams. The biggest question mark lies at goalkeeper, where captain Jimmy Nielsen has retired. Longtime backup Erik Kronberg will get the first shot at the job, though veteran Andy Gruenebaum was brought in to provide some competition and youngster Jon Kempin has loads of potential.