6. 'Silly Season' already in full effect
Proving that the action never really stops in MLS, the transfer season began with a bang shortly after the conclusion of MLS Cup. Teams have begun to shake up their rosters and front offices with the hopes of climbing up the table in 2013. New York continues to look for a new coach after deciding not to bring Hans Backe back to the fold. The Swede's replacement will be manning a much different roster after the Red Bulls acquired Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave from Real Salt Lake and released Designated Player Rafa Marquez. Portland, in an attempt to appease new head coach Caleb Porter, has been active in the transfer market as well, bringing in Ryan Johnson and Milos Kocic from Toronto FC as well as Will Johnson from Salt Lake. The Philadelphia Union hope to return to the playoffs next season by bringing back fan-favorite Sebastien Le Toux and acquiring Jeff Parke, but they will have to go through Sporting Kansas City, the club that may have won the offseason with its signings of Ike Opara and Benny Feilhaber. Next season is already shaping up to mouth-watering.
5. Designated Player growth
Clubs in the biggest markets hold a big edge in terms of signing high-profile Designated Players, being able to land the likes of Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane. But several clubs from smaller markets did extremely well this season to identify DP-level talents who have flown under the radar. The New England Revolution signed striker Jerry Bengston to a DP contract, a move that was validated when the Honduran produced the goods at the Olympics this summer. Sherjill MacDonald helped provide a spark that eventually saw the Chicago Fire secure a postseason berth. But perhaps the pick of the lot was Boniek Garcia joining the Houston Dynamo. Garcia became the club's second-ever Designated Player, and he proved to be the missing piece that Houston needed to reach MLS Cup for a second straight season.
4. D.C. United ends playoff drought
D.C. United has not felt like the most decorated club in MLS for quite some time. Despite the four MLS Cup titles in its trophy cabinet, D.C. had not reached the postseason since 2007. But under the guidance of Ben Olsen, United enjoyed a superb season reminiscent of the early days of the league when the club won three of the first four MLS Cups. Olsen led his squad to a second- place finish in the Eastern Conference with 58 points, good enough for third place overall. The club ousted the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals before crashing out to the Dynamo, but the return to prominence certainly signals a bright future for United.
3. Wondolowski's dominance continues
No player has dominated the last few seasons of MLS like Chris Wondolowski. The San Jose Earthquakes striker completed a sensational season that saw him record a staggering 27 goals in 30 regular-season games to tie Roy Lassiter's single-season scoring record. Add that total to the 16 goals he scored in 2011 and the 18 he nabbed in 2010 and you have the makings of one the prolific scorer in MLS history. Wondolowski's goals lifted him to the MVP award as well as a second MLS Golden Boot and third straight appearance on the MLS Best XI team. Simply remarkable.
2. Galaxy repeat as champions
The Los Angeles Galaxy invested everything in winning MLS Cup in 2011, but the 2012 title was far more up for grabs. The league instituted a change to allow the team in MLS Cup with the superior regular-season record to host the title match, meaning that the Galaxy would be able to bid to host the event as they had last season. It made no difference as the club, despite an agonizing start to the season, defied the odds, peaked at the right time and advance to the championship. The Houston Dynamo advanced as well, setting up a carbon copy of last year's final at The Home Depot Center. The outcome was similar with the Galaxy leaving the match 3-1 winners, marking just the third time that an MLS club has earned back-to-back championships.
1. Beckham leaves an unprecedented legacy
David Beckham is one of the few people in the world who transcends his field of expertise. His star power attracts the non-soccer fan as much as the casual observer and hardcore follower. This is why his initial arrival in MLS in 2007 was labeled as much of a publicity stunt as it was for an actual tactical addition for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Five years later, it's impossible to argue against the positive impact Becks has had on MLS. The Englishman did everything he was asked of, and more. He raised the profile of MLS, encouraged other global stars to follow his example and sign with the league and brought a high level of professionalism to everything he did. All that was missing was on-field success to validate his tenure in America, which he achieved in spades with successive MLS Cup titles. He leaves a lasting footprint on MLS, one to which no one may ever measure up again.