Say "goodbye" to the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City. "Hello," Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
Major League Soccer's expansion to 20 clubs in 2015 provides Crew SC two new Eastern Conference foes for the season ahead. Road trips to play both clubs provide unique environments, says winger Ethan Finlay.
"I think the [Eastern Conference] will be difficult," Finlay said Wednesday. "I think it will be a unique experience playing at the Citrus Bowl, not so sure about the turf, but it is what it is this year, and then playing at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC. I think you have two organizations that are going to be class in two different ways. Orlando obviously has come in and has a good foundation of players coming from [USL PRO]. NYCFC is a team that’s owned by Manchester City and plans to come here and win, and win now."
Orlando City is bolstered by Brazilian superstar and former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká, while NYCFC has acquired the likes of Spanish striker David Villa, U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Mix Diskerud and, arriving in July, legendary English midfielder Frank Lampard. On top of that, Crew SC's neighbor up north, Toronto FC, has added USMNT striker Jozy Altidore and Italian attacker Giovinco, coming in July.
With the influx of stars, Finlay believes the East is stronger than it's been in recent years.
"It’s going to be great," he said. "It’s going to be extremely competitive. Then when you start talking about other teams like Toronto, the New York Red Bulls..."
"It’s going to be a competitive East, more so than I think it was in the past. "