March Madness is pretty sweet. I'm a huge University of Maryland basketball fan, but it's the opening of the MLS season that really gets me full-on amped come this time each year. This year's opener should be a cracker.
The new expansion team Seattle Sounders FC will host the '08 MLS Cup Finalist New York Red Bulls tonight on ESPN2 at 8 PM in front of a sold out Quest Field in the opening match of the 2009 Major League Soccer season.
The Red Bulls feature the most productive of the Designated Player signed to date, Columbian forward Juan Pablo Angel. The high scoring forward (33 goals in 47 games) hopes to get on the end of a few balls from the squad that Coach Juan Carlos Osorio has built that includes imports Jorge Rojas (Venezuela) and speedsters Dane Richards (Jamaica) and Macoumba Kandji (Senegal). I've seen Kandji pull off some crazy moves when he played for the Atlanta Silverbacks prior to being loaned to NYRB last season.
Osorio also built from the draft. Former University of Maryland star Jeremy Hall is expected to start at right back a few months after lifting the NCAA crown. Fear the Turtle!
But the player I'm most excited to see is the Columbian lining up for Seattle, Freddy Montero. The tricky forward has been lighting up the Columbian first division and the MLS preseason (10 goals in 9 games) with his slick maneuvering in the penalty area and his accurate shooting. Keep an eye on this guy. I expect him to have one or two good seasons in MLS before he ships out to a European side.
Meanwhile, '08 Coach of the Year Sigi Schmid's Seattle club also features some names you may recognize. US goalkeeping legend Kasey Keller will patrol the pipes while underwear model and former part-time Arsenal winger Freddie Ljungberg might make an appearance off the bench tonight after recovering from hip surgery this winter.
I don't plan on doing game previews for each game, but like I said, I'm excited MLS is starting back up.