THE WEEKEND'S BIG QUESTIONS
Which new arrivals will impress the most?
There are many new faces to pick from, with most of the big names arriving from Liga MX, beginning with the very first game of the season and the debut of Edison Flores for D.C. United against Colorado (1 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN+). The former Morelia man takes over playmaking duties for the departed Luciano Acosta and, with Yamil Asad and Julian Gressel at his disposal, it could be the start of something special in the national capital.
Sporting Kansas City didn't hesitate to spend eight figures for new striker Alan Pulido, whose first crack at life in MLS comes Saturday in Vancouver (10.30 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Peter Vermes' team has long lacked a true No. 9 and it is finally here in the form of Pulido. He'll thrive going against a rebuilding Vancouver.
Carrying on the tradition of Argentine No. 10s for Columbus, Lucas Zelarayan takes the reins for the Crew against New York City FC on Sunday (12.30 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Zelarayan has looked good in preseason and is sure to create scoring chances aplenty for Gyasi Zardes and Fanendo Adi.
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How will the new coaches fare?
Seven new coaches will be on the touchlines this weekend, each with hopes of changing his team's fortunes.
Fans of the Montreal Impact have already had a brief look at Thierry Henry from the CONCACAF Champions League series with Pachuca, and now the work begins in MLS on Saturday against New England (3 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Henry was dealt a setback when playmaker Ignacio Piatti headed home to Argentina, but the combination work and defensive solidity shown against Saprissa was promising.
Former FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja is back in MLS with Orlando City after a brief tenure in Liga MX with Club Tijuana, and the Colombian's first order of business will be a visit to Real Salt Lake on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+). While Pareja had his fair share of dynamic players in Dallas, the foundation of his success was a sturdy back line. Orlando leaked goals at inopportune moments last season, and Lions fans will be eager to see if Pareja's defensive influence will be seen against RSL.
Inter Miami's inaugural match is one of the most anticipated in league history, and at the helm is Uruguayan Diego Alonso. A CONCACAF Champions League winner with both Pachuca and Monterrey, Alonso is tasked with forming a team that has only recently taken shape in the past several weeks. He has talent to work with, like Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini, but going up against record-setting 2019 Supporters' Shield winner LAFC in Week 1 (5.30 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN) could be a painful start.
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Which fan base will be pressing the panic button after Week 1?
After months of anticipation, the start of a new season always provokes strong reactions, and if things don't break right after the first 90 minutes, pressing the panic button is the natural tendency. Minnesota United are coming off a playoff season in 2019 and the expectation will be for a return trip to the postseason, but a Week 1 trip to Portland to face a Timbers side that has the look of an attacking buzz saw could evoke the defensive nightmares of 2017 and 2018.
Player to watch
Outside of David Beckham, the MLS debut of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez -- who was named club captain on Friday -- with the LA Galaxy will be the most anticipated in league history, and it will come in front of what should be a pro-Hernandez crowd in Houston against the Dynamo.
Houston is a city that has witnessed some of the most important moments in Hernandez's career. It was at the MLS All-Star Game in 2010 in Houston when he took the field for the first time in a Manchester United shirt, and he scored in a 5-2 win.
Hernandez has played in countless matches with the Mexico national team across the U.S., but only one MLS stadium has seen a Hernandez goal with El Tricolor: Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium in a World Cup qualifier in 2012 against Guyana.
That all seems like eons ago, but fast forward to present day and once again Hernandez will be in action in Space City. Playing in a forward line with Cristian Pavon and Aleksandar Katai, all signs point toward the new Galaxy man having a prolific debut.
The game you're not planning to watch ... but should
Week 1 has its fair share of marquee matchups, but flying under the radar is the San Jose Earthquakes playing host to 2019 MLS Cup runner-up Toronto FC on Saturday (5.30 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
Ever since he arrived in 2014, midfielder Michael Bradley has been a mainstay in the Toronto FC starting XI, so it is going to look downright odd to see a TFC midfield without the general, who has a long-term injury.
The attention will shift to the front line of Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Pozuelo and Pablo Piatti, an attacking trident that has experience in La Liga and, should they all remain healthy, could rival the league's best trios.
Stopping those three will be the primary task for a San Jose team looking to take the next step in 2020. While most of the West bulked up over the winter, there was little movement within the Earthquakes roster, but that continuity should serve manager Matias Almeyda well.
It took a while for San Jose to adapt to the demanding Argentine, but once it did, the team took flight, only to run out of gas at the end of the season. Three points on the first day of the season would be the perfect way for San Jose to set the tone for another disruptive campaign out west.
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