>Monday Lunch: MLS 2010 is here!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: March 22, 2010 in mls
Tags: , , ,


Holla, what it do? Sorry about last week guys, I had to pick up Will from the train station and that apparently took me 7 days. But what can I say? It was an exciting week. The new MLS CBA was signed and there will not be a strike!

This week marks a change in content in my usual column. I will still provide the same observations, but as MLS is upon us, I will be shifting my focus more towards MLS and be taking some of it away from Americans Abroad that are not named Clint Dempsey. Speaking of DEUCE, (make sure to 720p this one).

What a goal. Grant Wahl called it the best goal an American has ever scored for a club team in Europe (taking into consideration quality of the goal, competition and meaning) and I agree. For those of you that think that that was a cross, L2Soccer.

Anyways time to start talking about MLS 2010 where I will be previewing the Western Conference today.

Here are some general observations before I get to my actual preview:

  • The West is much, much, much better than the East
  • Blanco is gone so now my least favorite player in MLS returns to being Wells Thompson
  • With 16 teams there is a balanced schedule for the first time ever (each team plays each other 15 times at home and 15 away) which is great but it means one fewer HONDA SUPERCLASSICO
  • Red Bull Arena is cool, but the Red Bulls are still lame
  • DC United still doesn’t have a stadium, WTF
  • I’m hearing that Seattle will average 40,000 this year; truly amazing
  • According to World Soccer Magazine, Seattle’s 2009 average attendance of 30,943 ranks 50th in the World, just behind Gremio of Brazil with 31,725 and more than Italy’s Fiorentina with 28,928. If they average 40,000 like is planned, they will rank 32nd, ahead of storied clubs such as Aston Villa, Werder Bremen, Sevilla, Porto, Lyon, Tottenham, Everton, Fenerbache, and PSV Eindhoven.
  • Only half the teams will make the playoffs this year, making the regular season actually competitive for once
  • San Jose blows

Starting next week, every Monday I will be handing out my weekly MLS awards, which are as follows:

The Jaime Moreno Award: For the player of the week, and unlike the MLS website, I won’t just be choosing whichever player scores two goals.

The Marco Etcheverry Award: For the best pass of the week.

The 2004-06 Alecko Eskandarian Award: For the best goal of the week.

The Wells Thompson Award: For the worst player of the week.

The Josh Wolff Award: For the worst goal of the week.

Now for the actual preview. A few things to know about this preview before you read it. 1. I am only predicting regular season finish in ascending order; I will put up my “playoff bracket” on Thursday.

2. Actually now that I think about it, the first point was really the only thing you needed to know.



8. San Jose Earthquakes

Last Year: 7-14-9 (W-L-T) 30 points, 8th in West

Key Losses: Shea Salinas, Darren Huckerby

Key Additions: Ike Opara

Best Fantasy Player: Ryan Johnson should score some goals. If he is cheap, pick him up.

Overview: This team was absolutely atrocious last year and they did nothing to get better. Ike Opara should be a good defender one day but he is raw and they don’t even get him until he graduates college. Bobby Convey was a major disappointment last year. With the retirement of Huckerby, they don’t really have any good players. At all.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: They will win five games.

Prognosis: Not Even

Could finish as high as: 7th, if Bobby Convey plays like its 2005/06 before his World Cup miss.

Or as low as: 8th obviously, but this team could challenge for the worst team in MLS history. Sorry Matt.


7. Chivas USA

Last Year: 13-11-6 45 points, 4th in West, lost in the Western Conference Semifinals 3-2 on aggregate to LA

Key Losses: Shavar Thomas, Eduardo Lillingston, Paulo Nagamura

Key Additions: Michael Umana?

Best Fantasy Player: Jonathan Bornstein, but he will be expensive.

Overview: They lost a key defender, midfielder and forward and they have replaced him with LA Galaxy reject Michael Umana. Preki knew what he was doing; getting out at the right time. This team is so bad that Steve Sampson thinks they are good. Jesus Padilla is my least favorite MLS player. He has no idea how to pass or cross. I truly hate him.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Sacha Kljestan will lead the league in assists.

Prognosis: They have holes at center back, right back, center midfield, left midfield, and forward. Other than that, they are great.

Could finish as high as: 4th if Sacha Kljestan takes his expanded leadership role and actually doesn’t suck this year.

Or as low as: 7th, this team is bad, but not San Jose bad.


6. Colorado Rapids

Last Year: 10-10-10 40 points, 6th in West

Key Losses: Cory Gibbs

Key Additions: Jeff Larentowicz

Best Fantasy Player: Omar Cummings is going to explode this year.

Overview: With Connor Casey and Omar Cummings, they probably have the best forward pair in the league. Even if Casey misses time for the World Cup, (I hope this isn’t the case for the USMNT’s sake) they should combine for at least 20-15 with 30-20 not out of reach. Unfortunately, they traded their best defender when defense wasn’t their strong suit. I do like the addition of Jeff Larentowicz, however. He and Pablo Mastroeni should form a great central midfield pair, although don’t expect a high offensive contribution from the pair.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Pablo Mastroeni will score a goal.

Prognosis: I am unsure about their defense but they have a solid keeper and are pretty solid everywhere else.

Could Finish as high as: 3rd, if their defense turns out to be decent and the Larentowicz-Mastroeni pairing works wonders.

Or as low as: 7th, if their defense plays like the 2008 LA Galaxy.


5. Real Salt Lake

Last Year: 11-12-7, 40 points, beat Columbus 4-2 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, beat Chicago 0-0 (5-4 pks) in the Eastern Conference Final, Beat LA 1-1 (5-4 pks) in MLS Cup

Key Losses: Yura Movsisyan, Chris Seitz, Clint Mathis

Key Additions: Luis Gil, Alvaro Saborio

Best Fantasy Player: Robbie Findley will have his best year as a pro

Overview: RSL was lucky to get into the playoffs at all. They have DC’s major choke-job (a CJ, not as cool as a BJ……that was in poor taste) to thank for even being there. They were a mediocre team that caught fire at the right time. This being said, no one wants to play these guys in an elimination scenario. Nick Rimando was great last year and Jamison Olave could be the best defender in the league if he learned that two footed tackles from behind sometimes get you sent off. This is a good team, but their offense goes with Javier Morales who had an off year last year after being amazing in 2008.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Alvaro Saborio will score double-digit goals.

Prognosis: This team is madly inconsistent and has yet to register a winning season. Look for them to beat the best teams and lose to the worst.

Could Finish as high as: 2nd, if Javier Morales rediscovers his form and Saborio and Findley form a deadly partnership.

Or as low as: 7th, if Jason Kreis plays Fabian Espindola in more than half of the games.


4. Houston Dynamo

Last Year: 13-8-9, 48 points, beat Seattle 1-0 (After Extra Time) in the Western Conference Semifinals, lost to LA 2-0 (AET) in the Western Conference Final

Key Losses: Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden

Key Additions: Adrian Serioux

Best Fantasy Player: Brad Davis will not be going to the World Cup and will have a larger role in the offense. He could post a 7-15 season.

Overview: On paper, this team should not succeed. They lost two of their best players and this is the year after they lost De Rosario. Fortunately soccer is not played on paper and the reason I have confidence in them is Dominic Kinnear; the league’s best manager. Kinnear is a dark horse candidate to take over the USMNT spot after the World Cup and he would be a good choice. It seems like every year they lose a great player but they still are in the thick of things at the end. Look for Corey Ashe to break out this year as the Dynamo drop, but not out of the playoff picture.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Geoff Cameron will make his second straight appearance on the MLS Best XI team, but as a midfielder.

Prognosis: This will be the most organized team and hardest working team in MLS, but they have lost too much talent to finish 2nd in the West again.

Could Finish as high as: 2nd, if new players emerge and Brian Ching scores in the double digits.

Or as low as: 6th, if the losses of Holden and Clark prove to be too much.


3. LA Galaxy

Last Year: 12-6-12 48 points, 1st in West, beat Chivas 3-2 on aggregate in the Western Conference Semifinals, beat Houston 2-0 (AET) in the Western Conference Final, Lost to RSL 1-1 (5-4 pks) in MLS Cup

Key Losses: David Beckham (possibly)

Key Additions: Three Brazilian guys and Clint Mathis

Best Fantasy Player: If Landon Donovan isn’t on your fantasy team, either you don’t deserve to play, or your name is Matt Ream (noob).

Overview: I really thought this was the best team last year even though they didn’t win the Supporter’s Shield. They got Beckham back and made a great run to MLS cup in which they were unlucky not to win. This team doesn’t really have any holes and getting back Sean Franklin and Edson Buddle for the full season should really help them. The only question mark is if David Beckham will play after his recent Achilles injury. I think he will make it back before the season ends, but in the meantime Chris Birchall (an underrated player) will have to fill in.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Dema Kovalenko and Clint Mathis will combine for six red cards.

Prognosis: With Ricketts in goal and a solid backline, they will have the best defense in MLS but their scoring options are few outside of Landon Donovan. Bruce Arena will not let this team miss the playoffs.

Could Finish as high as: 1st if Donovan stays the whole year and Edson Buddle goes Keyser Söze when Donovan is at the World Cup.

Or as low as: 3rd, even if everything goes bad, this team is too good to finish lower than 3rd.


2. FC Dallas

Last Year: 11-13-6 39 points, 7th in West

Key Losses: Dave Van Den Bergh
Key Additions: Kevin Hartman

Best Fantasy Player: Jeff Cunningham could repeat his 17 goal 8 assist performance.

Overview: This pick will most likely make me look like a tool at the end of the year; but I really like this team. Their only key loss was Dave Van Den Bergh, but Brek Shea is ready to take his spot. They have a young team and brought it together surprisingly well at the end of last year. David Ferreira was terrible at the start of the season, but amazing as he acclimated to the league. His partnership with Jeff Cunningham and whoever plays the other forward role will be key in this team’s success. They have some defensive issues. I do however like the addition of Kevin Hartman. Dario Sala has been my least favorite keeper in MLS for a while now. I think he led the league in goals scored on him in which he never made an attempt for the ball, never a good sign for your keeper.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Brek Shea makes the MLS Best XI and then gets sold to Manchester United

Prognosis: The team lacks experience, but I think they will put it all together and make a run at the Supporter’s Shield.

Could Finish as high as: 1st, if their young players play like they did during the last half of 2009.

Or as low as: 6th, if what everyone else says about this team is actually true (I may be the only person in the world who likes this team).


1. Seattle Sounders FC

Last Year: 12-7-11 47 points, 3rd in West, lost to Houston 1-0 (AET) on aggregate in the Western Conference Semifinals, won the US Open Cup

Key Losses: Sebastien Le Toux

Key Additions: Blaise Nkufo (summer)

Best Fantasy Player: Fredy Montero should only improve on his 12 goal, seven assist season, assuming he isn’t transferred before season end.

Overview: This team plays fantastic soccer. I have never seen a team move the ball from one side of the field to the other as fast as they do without just playing long balls. They have all the players they need to compete; the only question is if they will be able to score by the end of the next season. Fortunately, they made the best signing of the off-season by agreeing to get Swiss National Team striker Blaise Nkufo after the World Cup. Currently playing for FC Twente in the Dutch Eridivisie, Nkufo has scored 114 league goals in the past 7 years with them as well as 7 goals in 29 appearances for Switzerland. Despite concerns about his age (35 when he comes over) this could be a signing on par with the Juan Pablo Angel signing a few years back.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Fredy Montero has a sophomore slump

Prognosis: The only player they lost wasn’t a starter so they return all of their best players and gain another one in Nkufo. If Freddie Ljungberg comes back in the form he was in at the end of last year, the sky is the limit.

Could Finish as high as: 1st, although expect them to win the Supporter’s Shield

Or as low as: 2nd, this team has too many good players to finish out of the top two. Even if they are hit by the injury bug, they still have enough players to make it happen.

That will be all for today. Join me Thursday for my Eastern Conference Preview as well as my MLS “playoff bracket” and my Award Predictions.


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