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5 bold predictions for the MLS Eastern Conference in 2016 with Toronto FC, NY Red Bulls, Orlando City, Montreal Impact and the Chicago Fire
5 bold predictions for the MLS Eastern Conference in 2016
Montreal Impact won't be able to replicate their successful 2015 campaign

Toronto FC will finally live up to expectations

Giovinco & Co. will have new reinforcements in the back field

Toronto FC has won the offseason for the last two consecutive years, but has failed to be very successful where it really matters, on the pitch. The team managed to garner global headlines by signing the likes of Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco, but haven't lived up the expectations of the fans or media.

TFC look like they have turned a new page already though, bringing in experienced MLS players like Drew Moor, Will Johnson, and Steven Beitashour. The team's biggest issue since it's inception has been its defence, and the club has finally taken measures to address it.

Toronto has the talent to win an MLS Cup and while they have a disappointing side to watch for the past nine years, 2016 already feels different.

Orlando City SC will finish ahead of New York City FC again

The Lions will shine again above NYCFC in 2016

Orlando City was in the thick of the playoff race right until Decision Day, where they ultimately fell just short. However, the expansion team did well in their inaugural season and continued to build on the passionate fanbase they had built up.

Not only did their star Designated Player, Kaka, prove he didn't just come to MLS for a hefty payday, their first ever MLS SuperDraft pick, Cyle Larin, was named the 2015 Rookie of the Year. Unlike their expansion rivals, New York City FC, they have a solid foundation to build upon in the future.

NYCFC decided they wanted to bring in familiar faces from across Europe to help compete in the crowded New York sports landscape. They did fairly well selling tickets and merchandise, but weren't able to do much damage on the pitch.

Instead of allowing head coach, Jason Kreis, to continue on what he had started to develop in his first season, the team opted to bring in French legend, Patrick Vieira. Vieira has never worked as a head coach before, and has no experience with soccer in North America.

While Vieira's leadership skills are unquestionable, he will make mistakes along the way and it could come at the cost of another disappointing year for NYCFC.

New York Red Bulls will continue to thrive

The Red Bulls managed to pull of a great 2015 season

Not many would have predicted that the New York Red Bulls would win their second Supporters' Shield title in three years, when the 2015 season kicked off last January. The team had one of the lowest payrolls in the entire league and did not exactly possess a star-studded lineup.

However, Jesse Marsch was able to get the best out of his men as they thrived and made it back to the Eastern Conference final for the second consecutive season. No team has been able to develop Homegrown Players like the Red Bulls have, and with more local talent being snapped up to professional contracts during the current offseason, expect much of the same from New York in 2016.

The Montreal impact will take a step back in 2016

The Impact might lose their star striker Didier Drogba

It was quite the exciting 2015 for the Montreal impact and their fans. The club made it all the way to the CONCACAF Champions League final where they nearly upset Mexican giants, Club America.

The team also managed to land the biggest star in the club's history, Didier Drogba. The Ivorian scored 12 goals in 12 games for the Impact and led the team to their first ever MLS playoff victory. But according to the latest reports out of Montreal, the team's star Designated Player won't be back in 2016 like originally expected. Drogba is close to a return to Chelsea, and the Impact have apparently already started the search for his replacement.

The good news for fans of the club though, is that Interim head coach, Mauro Biello, has been given the permanent position. He came in during the middle of the campaign to replace Frank Klopas and the team thrived under his tutelage.

However, given the incredible year that the Montreal impact enjoyed in 2015, it'll be extremely difficult to match it in 2016.

The Chicago Fire will make the playoffs

Velko Paunovic is presented as Chicago's new coach

No team in all of Major League Soccer was worse than the Chicago Fire in 2015. They finished with the least amount of points, and conceded an appalling 58 goals. Expect that all to change under new head coach, Velko Paunovic.

The Serbian has experience within the league, having played with the Union in 2011. His first task will be to shore up the defensive issues, and he has the first pick in January's SuperDraft to help him do so.

The team have a ton of talent in front of goal, with the likes of Designated Players David Accam and Gilberto. They also have the talented youngster, Harry Shipp, as well.

Paunovic led his home country to a U-20 World Cup title this summer, and expect him to bring a much more disciplined style of play to the Fire in 2016. With six teams qualifying for the playoffs once again next season, expect the Fire to fight their way to a playoff berth. 

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