MLS 2015 Preview: Galaxy target defence as new boys welcome marquee signings

Ahead of the 20th MLS season, which starts on Friday, we take a look at the issues set to dominate the discussion.

Major League Soccer resumes on Friday when champions LA Galaxy face Chicago Fire at the StubHub Center, although the first game of their defence is far from the only talking point surrounding the competition's restart. 

With former England internationals Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard set to join World Cup winners Kaka and David Villa in MLS along with two new clubs, there are plenty of things to watch out for.

A new Galaxy

Bruce Arena's LA Galaxy side begin their quest to defend the MLS Cup on Friday, but will do so without one of their key figures from recent years - Landon Donovan - who retired after helping to lift the title and later had the MVP award named after him.

While Arena will be without Donovan, last season's top scorer Robbie Keane remains available while the Irishman's former Liverpool team-mate Gerrard is set to join in July.

Ex-England skipper Gerrard is one of a host of marquee signings joining MLS and will be tasked with helping continue Galaxy's dominance.

New York City

Gerrard is likely to be joined in MLS by a familiar face - with Manchester City midfielder and former England team-mate Lampard due to link up with New York City for their debut season.

Lampard was originally due to be with New York for the start of their campaign, but his form with the English champions has seen Manuel Pellegrini hang on to him until the end of the Premier League season.

The 36-year-old is set to bolster Jason Kreis' squad later this year, although New York are tipped to start strongly due to the signings of World Cup-winning Spaniard Villa and United States international Mix Diskerud.

Orlando City

New York City will not be the only new boys in this year's MLS, with Orlando City also making their bow following the eye-catching signing of Brazilian playmaker Kaka.

The former Real Madrid and Milan midfielder will captain Orlando in their debut season, with USMNT forward Brek Shea also on board for Adrian Heath's side.

Orlando get their first campaign up against New York on Sunday in Florida, in another landmark moment for the division. 

New-look Red Bulls

Like Galaxy, New York Red Bulls will also look different when they get their campaign under way after high-profile departures of head coach Mike Petke as well as key players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.

Bradley Wright-Phillips remains - as the club's designated player following his haul of 31 goals last season - and will lead the line for Petke's replacement Jesse Marsch, as Red Bulls seek to go one step further than their Conference Final appearance last time out.

The return of Jozy Altidore

The USMNT favourite returns to MLS for the first time in eight years, after a dismal spell with Premier League side Sunderland, and will be tasked with improving on Toronto's seventh-place finish.

Altidore replaced Jermain Defoe at BMO Field and will likely make his first competitive Toronto appearance against Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Saturday.