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Which MLS team should you support in 2017? Our guide to the new season

Which MLS team should you support?

The MLS is back this weekend but with 22 clubs taking part across two conferences, which one should you be supporting over the next nine months?

We have considered some of the things football fans look for in a team and compiled our guide to who we think you would be best following in their bid for the 2017 title.

Don't forget you can watch your new side's campaign unfold on Sky Sports throughout the year, with three matches being shown live in the coming days.

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The new MLS season kicks off this week - watch LA Galaxy v FC Dallas at 9pm on Saturday, Sky Sports 2

You can see LA Galaxy v FC Dallas on Saturday at 9pm and Orlando City v New York City FC on Sunday at 10pm, with both games on Sky Sports 2. Atlanta United then play their first competitive match at home to New York Red Bulls on Monday at 12.30am, once again on Sky Sports 2.

In the meantime, decide what attribute your new MLS team has to have and pick which one you're going to cheer on…

A likely trophy winner: LA Galaxy

Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane have moved on but there are still good reasons for football fans on this side of the Atlantic to get behind LA Galaxy.

Statistically, they are the most successful side in MLS history - and Ashley Cole and former Tottenham midfielder Giovani dos Santos will be looking to keep it that way this term.

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CARSON, CA - MARCH 19: Ashley Cole #3 of Los Angeles Galaxy takes a shot on goal during Los Angeles Galaxy's MLS match against San Jose Earthquakes at the
Image: Ashley Cole will help LA Galaxy try to win back the MLS Cup in the post-Bruce Arena era

While Galaxy didn't win anything in 2016 and lost their long-time head coach Bruce Arena to the US national side, they have claimed the MLS Cup five times in total and three of them since 2011.

Dominating the Western Conference, they have also won four Supporters' Shields - the prize for having the best overall regular season record - and two US Open Cups.

The best match atmosphere: Portland Timbers

Portland's Providence Park is by no means the biggest match venue in the MLS but it stands as one of the best places to watch a game in the country.

A converted baseball stadium renowned for its electric atmosphere, it is felt to have more of a European feel to it than many other grounds in the States.

PORTLAND, OR - SEPTEMBER 16: Timber Joey, mascot of the Portland Timbers cuts a slab of wood against the New England Revolution  on September 16, 2011 at J
Image: Timber Joey cuts another log after a Portland Timbers goal

The Oregon club's passionate support are famed for their tifo displays, particularly when Seattle Sounders make the 173-mile journey down Interstate 5 on derby day.

Then there's Timber Joey, Portland's mascot who cuts a slab of wood off a log with a chainsaw behind one of the goals every time his team scores. He goes through four or five logs each year.

Derby delight: Seattle Sounders

Portland might be an exciting place to watch football but Seattle's CenturyLink Field isn't exactly bad either, especially when the capacity is expanded to 69,000 for bigger matches.

The Sounders' rivalry with the Timbers is easily the fiercest in US Soccer, dating back to when both cities had teams in the former North American Soccer League in the 1970s.

The rivalry between Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers is the fiercest in US Soccer
Image: The rivalry between Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers is the fiercest in US Soccer

Seattle have the edge at present, winning 50 of the 97 meetings between the clubs so far, and they have never lost at home in the MLS to their neighbours.

Indeed, while Portland won the teams' last meeting 4-2 in August, that's one of only five wins in 17 games they have had at this level. Seattle, by contrast, have eight.

A new adventure: Atlanta United

There are two new clubs in this year's MLS and of them - Atlanta United and Minnesota United -
there is perhaps more excitement around the former.

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As well as eventually playing their matches at the $1.6bn Mercedes Benz Stadium, which they will share with the Atlanta Falcons NFL team, the club have also acquired some notable members of staff.

Led by ex-Barcelona coach Tata Martino, former Rangers and Fulham defender Carlos Bocanegra is their technical director and in-demand Miguel Almiron is a standout designated player.

Former Barcelona head coach Tata Martino will be in charge of MLS newcomers Atlanta United this season
Image: Former Barcelona head coach Tata Martino will be in charge of MLS newcomers Atlanta United this season

They have sold almost 30,000 season tickets and with a number of established MLS players in their ranks, they defeated title holders Seattle 4-2 in pre-season. Others have taken note.

Potential CONCACAF success: FC Dallas

We are still awaiting a first MLS winner of the CONCACAF Champions League after it began in 2008 and for now, at least, Mexico's dominance of the competition goes on.

However, this year there is a strong challenge from the USA and Canada and it looks as though two sides from those countries will be in semi-final action.

FC Dallas are also looking to succeed in the CONCACAF Champions League
Image: FC Dallas are also looking to succeed in the CONCACAF Champions League

Barring a dramatic collapse after their 4-0 first-leg win, FC Dallas should see off Arabe Unido from Panama to take a place in the last four.

One of New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps will also go through, with the two poised at 1-1 after their first game against each other.

Goals, goals, goals: New York Red Bulls

The New Jersey-based Red Bulls were actually outscored by New York City in the regular 2016 season as Patrick Vieira's men found the net 62 times compared with 61.

Given they conceded another 13 more too, there is perhaps more entertainment value to be had at the Yankee Stadium, but stick with us on this one.

Bradley Wright-Phillips of New York Red Bulls celebrates
Image: Bradley Wright-Phillips has won the MLS Golden Boot in two of the last three seasons while with New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls have an Englishman leading the line for them in the form of Bradley Wright-Phillips. More than that, he has been the league's Golden Boot winner in two of the last three seasons.

Scoring 24 times in 2016 as he claimed his second, the 31-year-old is his club's record scorer and has been described by his head coach Jesse Marsch as their best ever player.

A prolific young Englishman: Sporting Kansas City

Wright-Phillips isn't the only man from these shores to feature high up in the scoring charts - and given the other one is still just 26, he is perhaps one to get more excited about.

Injuries might have prevented Dom Dwyer from progressing beyond Norwich's youth academy, but he has been averaging almost a goal every other game for four years now at Sporting Kansas City.

Dom Dwyer (R) has been at Sporting Kansas City for four years
Image: Englishman Dom Dwyer (right) has been at Sporting Kansas City for four years and is on the verge of becoming a US citizen

Netting 16 times in 2016, his form has been so good he is on the verge of international recognition - yet it is set to come from the United States rather than the country of his birth.

Dwyer is in the final stages of becoming an American citizen and with his stock in MLS now high, he has already held talks with US Soccer about the possibility of playing for them.

The underdogs: Philadelphia Union

After seven years as an MLS club, Philadelphia Union's fans are still waiting. Back-to-back US Open Cup final appearances gave them hope of a first trophy, only for both games to end in defeat.

Indeed, there hasn't been much to shout about in the league either. Only finishing in the top 10 overall once, that was back in 2011, when they were third in the Eastern Conference.

There's a spectacular backdrop at the Talen Energy Stadium but still no trophies for Philadelphia Union to enjoy so far
Image: There's a spectacular backdrop at the Talen Energy Stadium but still no trophies for Philadelphia Union to enjoy so far

The optimism that brought has not been built upon, and finishing sixth in the region and 13th when both divisions merged last year was largely underwhelming.

Toronto have gone 10 years as an MLS side without winning it and cannot play in the Open Cup, but they did at least reach the MLS Cup final last year and have taken five Canadian Championships.

Could this be the year Union finally make their mark? The 17,500 people who regularly turn out at Talen Energy Stadium can only hope so.

Cheering on big names: New York City FC

Few will deny there's something a bit showbiz about New York City FC, owned by Manchester City and coached by Vieira as he prepares for his second season in management.

Frank Lampard might have moved on but David Villa remains as the club's captain and scored 23 times last term, with only Wright-Phillips netting more on the other side of the Hudson River.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  David Villa #7 of New York City FC celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto FC during a soccer game at Yankee Stadium o
Image: David Villa scored 23 goals for New York City FC in 2016

Andrea Pirlo might be approaching 38 but he is still in Vieira's squad after proving what an asset he can be with 11 assists in 2016.

On top of that, 10 other full internationals including Mix Diskerud, Rodney Wallace and Yangel Herrera - signed then loaned out by Manchester City in January - add experience to the squad.

Taking in new surroundings: Orlando City

After two seasons in the vast Citrus Bowl, Orlando begin their third MLS campaign live on Sky Sports 2 against New York City FC on Sunday in their new soccer-specific home.

Simply called the Orlando City Stadium and located in the downtown area of the city, the 25,500-capacity venue was built at a cost of $155m and is one of the league's most impressive grounds.

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Featuring a standing section at one end, it also has a block of seven seats by seven in rainbow colours in a touching tribute to the 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting last June.

As is often the way at American stadia, there are quirks too - the most notable of which being the inclusion of a four-times life size model lion which turns 180 degrees to 'watch' games at kick-off.

Backing the Brits: Various

Take your pick. From the well known to the obscure, there are still plenty of players from the UK and Republic of Ireland in MLS despite the departures of Lampard, Gerrard and Keane.

Cole is the most notable player at LA Galaxy, and Liam Ridgewell will captain Portland once again in the months ahead after a short off-season loan spell at Brighton.

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Wright-Phillips is staying at Red Bulls and Adrian Heath will manage Minnesota United, while his son Harrison is part of Atlanta's squad along with on-loan Tottenham midfielder Anton Wilkes.

Former Hull forward Jay Simpson is one of three Englishmen at Philadelphia along with defenders Jack Elliot and Aaron Jones.

Luke Mulholland (Real Salt Lake) Jack Barmby (Portland), Rob Vincent (DC United), Jack Harrison (New York City FC), Seb Hines and Danny Deakin (Orlando) all come from England too.

Walker Zimmerman of FC Dallas beats Colorado Rapids' Kevin Doyle - once of Wolves and Reading - to the ball
Image: Irish international Kevin Doyle (left) is in the latter stages of his career with Colorado Rapids

Scotsman Calum Mallace started both legs of the 2015 CONCACAF Champions League final for Montreal and remains there.

Former Wales midfielder Carl Robinson is Vancouver's head coach, while Irishman Kevin Doyle is now approaching veteran territory at Colorado.

No reason in particular: Chicago, Houston, San Jose or New England

Even after all that, there are still four teams we haven't mentioned in any capacity because there's no obvious reason for Brits to have an interest in them.

Shaun Maloney's old club Chicago Fire are perhaps the least appealing option to people here given they finished bottom of the entire league last year.

Houston Dynamo did marginally better, finishing 19th overall after Owen Coyle left his role as their head coach in May.

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San Jose Earthquakes were MLS Cup winners in 2001 and 2003 but their first year at their new Avaya Stadium under Glasgow-born Dominic Kinnear saw them come 17th.

New England Revolution were winners in the North American Superliga - the forerunner to the Champions League - in 2008.

But with former Middlesbrough forward Kei Kamara and ex-MK Dons goalkeeper Cody Cropper in their team, they are still looking for their first MLS Cup after finishing runners-up five times.

Willing to wait: Los Angeles FC or Miami

If you still can't decide who to support, you could always wait until the next wave of new sides come along.

Los Angeles FC have already been founded as the latest expansion franchise waiting to come in and count Will Ferrell among their owners.

Actor Will Ferrell is among those trying to get Los Angeles FC ready to start playing MLS football in 2018
Image: Actor Will Ferrell is among those trying to get Los Angeles FC ready to start playing MLS football in 2018

Although they currently have no players and no home, work on their 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium began last year and they are scheduled to debut in 2018.

A team is also in the offing in Miami but is dependent on its owners, which include David Beckham, reaching agreement for a new stadium, as MLS works towards a long-term aim of 28 teams.

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