>Thursday Lunch: MLS 2010 is REALLY here!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted: March 25, 2010 in mls
Tags: , ,

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Not much to talk about today; just got to get down to business. I have the Eastern Conference Preview followed by my MLS Awards picks and lastly my weekly picks. Enjoy!

 

8. Kansas City Wizards

Last Year: 8-13-9 (W-L-T) 33 points, 6th in East

Key Losses: Kevin Hartman, Herculez Gomez

Key Additions: A bunch of guys no one has ever hear of

Best Fantasy Player: Jimmy Conrad scored six goals in 2008

Overview: No one knows much about any of the guys they brought in but they lost a solid player in Hartman, although apparently their new keeper has looked good in pre-season. This has historically been one of the most boring teams to watch MLS, except for 2007 when Eddie Johnson decided to play soccer. Don’t look for much to change this year.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Jimmy Conrad will lead the team in goals…oh wait that actually could happen.

Prognosis: The San Jose of the East

Could finish as high as: 6th, if all those new guys are actually good (doubtful)

Or as low as: 8th, too bad there is no relegation in MLS

 

7. New England Revolution

Last Year: 11-10-9 42 points, 3rd in East, lost to the Chicago fire 3-2 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

Key Losses: Chris Albright, Jeff Larentowicz, Steve Ralston, Brad Knighton

Key Additions: Preston Burpo, Cory Gibbs, Trading Wells Thompson

Best Fantasy Player: I hate to say it but Chris Tierney is cheap and will likely start at left back

Overview: Losing Steve Ralston was a huge blow. Without him in the 2009 playoffs New England looked flat and out of place. Taylor Twellman is a huge question mark. If he is healthy, he will be good for 10-15 goals, but you just never know with that guy. I like the move of getting rid of Wells Thompson to get Gibbs and Burpo who should both start. The only downside was they had to get rid of Jeff Larentowicz. They must feel like Pat Phelan is ready to play a big role. Shalrie Joseph is probably the best player in MLS, but this year more than ever he will be operating with a terrible supporting cast.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Steve Nichol will get fired…and then hired as the coach of the USMNT

Prognosis: They have lost a lot, but never overlook a Steve Nichol team. He and Kinnear have been the best managers in MLS this decade.

Could finish as high as: 4th, if Nichol makes his magic happen and Joseph repeats last year’s performance

Or as low as: 8th, they will always struggle to score, but if their defense turns out terrible and Matt Reis isn’t ready for a while they could have a terrible season.

 

6. Philadelphia Union

Last Year: N/A expansion team

Key Losses: N/A

Key Additions: N/A

Best Fantasy Player: Dan Califf should score a few goals while anchoring one of the league’s best back lines.

Overview: This team looks better than most expansion team, but don’t expect a performance like the Sounders last year. Their defense is really solid but questions remain on who will score the goals and what the midfield will look like. Peter Nowak is a great coach, but he is known for overworking his players. His young players could hit the wall midway through the season.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: The Union will make the playoffs and advance 1-0 on aggregate before losing in the East final to a team from the West.

Prognosis: They have many good players but I can’t see this team scoring many goals.

Could finish as high as: 3rd if Danny Mwanga emerges as a scoring threat and they win a lot of 1-0 games.

Or as low as: 8th, if the defense lacks cohesion and the goals don’t come.

 

5. Toronto FC

Last Year: 10-11-9 39 points, 5th in East

Key Losses: Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Adrian Serioux

Key Additions: Ty Harden, Having Julian De Guzman for the whole year, Grass at BMO Field

Best Fantasy Player: After the year he had last year, how can you not pick Dwayne De Rosario?

Overview: Toronto has always had great midfields; the questions have been in the back and in the front. Luckily, Stefen Frei looks like an amazing young talent at keeper that should help everyone forget about the atrocious Greg Sutton. Although their defense was poor last year, Nana Attakora really came on at the end of it, and a three man back of Jim Brennan, Attakora, and Marvell Wynne would be better then what they have had in the past. Their midfield is as strong as ever with DDR and De Guzman as two of the best players in the league. However, who is going to score the goals? Chad “the Vasectomy” Barrett (he is where balls go to die) will likely still start, but why? I really like O’Brian White and Faud Ibrahim as young players. Hopefully, they should chip in with some goals this year but they really need a key hold up man who can do the work and bring that great midfield into the attack.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Playoffs?

Prognosis: De Guzman could be better than Shalrie Joseph, but I just don’t think this team has the depth to make a lasting run. They could be madly inconsistent.

Could finish as high as: 3rd, if they sign a quality striker and their defense plays well.

Or as low as: 7th, if their lack of depth shows and BMO field doesn’t provide the great home field advantage of years past.

 

4. New York Red Bulls

Last Year: 5-19-6 21 points 7th in East

Key Losses: Jorge Rojas

Key Additions: Tim Ream, Chris Albright, Joel Lindpere, Carl Robinson, Red Bull Arena

Best Fantasy Player: You know just by his name that Tim Ream is going to be a straight up boss.

Overview: All kidding aside, Tim Ream looked great against Santos, as did Joel Lindpere and Bouna Condoul. These three players could be the X-factors in turning around this struggling franchise. Their new stadium is amazing and should help propel them to a few more victories. I honestly had this team rated lower until I watched their game vs. Santos. They didn’t just get lucky and win 3-1; they played smart attacking soccer and held possession for most of the game. There was one stretch at the end where they strung about 20 passes together. It kills me to say this but this team actually looks good. That being said they gave up a late goal and it looks like that could kill them again.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: They will have another Cinderella run to MLS Cup.

Prognosis: This team has to scare people and it can only get better. After the World Cup they will likely sign Thierry Henry or Raul. Juan Pablo Angel is the best forward in the league; imagine if they had the two best in the league on the same team. Scary stuff.

Could finish as high as: 1st, if Henry or Raul comes and the team becomes unstoppable.

Or as low as: 5th, if the help doesn’t come. This team is too good to finish lower than that though.

 

3. DC United

Last Year: 9-8-13 40 points, 4th in East

Key Losses: Fred, Luciano Emilio

Key Additions: Troy Perkins, Danny Allsopp, Christian Castillo

Best Fantasy Player: Jaime Moreno at age 36 will score at least 12 goals this year

Overview: Troy Perkins is a top 3 Keeper in the league (along with Kasey Keller and Donovan Ricketts) so after the circus that has been United’s worst position in the last two year it is good to get some stability for once. I LOVE the Christian Castillo signing. I love it so much I want to marry it. Whenever USA plays El Salvador, Castillo always destroys us on the right wing. I see him being a player comparable but perhaps better than Collin Clark of Colorado. Dejan Jakovic is a dark horse contender for defender of the year. His read on the game and composure with the ball is unreal. I have never seen anything like it in MLS. It’s too bad that he’s from Canada otherwise he would have a USMNT career in front of him. No one talks about him, but he just does not make mistakes. On a side note, I love how DC has signed two academy prospects that could make an impact in the near future. Experts are calling GK Bill Hamid the next Tim Howard, and Will Chang (DCU owner) says that Andy Najar will contribute this year. This is great stuff from a class organization.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Moreno will finally win his league MVP

Prognosis: People have questions about the defense, but people aren’t me. This is the best defense United has had in years. Julius James is finally fulfilling his potential and despite Marc Burch’s injury, they should be fine with Rodney Wallace at left back for a while.

Could finish as high as: 1st if another scorer emerges along with Moreno and Santino Quaranta has the type of year he says he is going to have.

Or as low as: 5th, if everyone else really is right about the defense (they aren’t).

 

2. Chicago Fire

Last Year: 11-7-12 45 points, 2nd in East, beat New England 3-2 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, lost to Salt Lake 0-0 (5-4 pks) in the Eastern Conference Final

Key Losses: Chris Rolfe, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Gonzalo Segares, Jon Busch

Key Additions: Collins John

Best Fantasy Player: Marco Pappa should continue his success from last year

Overview: This team lost a lot of its key guys but the reality is that the east is so bad that even if the Fire has a mediocre year guys like Brian McBride and Wilman Conde should be enough to ensure they finish this high up in the table. Perhaps this will be the year that Justin Mapp finally fulfills his potential; even if he doesn’t it shouldn’t matter. The only really question mark they have is in goal where they are handing the reins over to 24-year-old Andrew Dykstra who really has no experience. But, if they were confident, enough to cut the 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the year maybe this kid really is special. Although Collins John hasn’t scored a league goal since 2008, he was once a prolific goal scorer in both the EPL and Dutch Eridivisie. Look for him to contribute double-digit goals as he lines up with his old Fulham strike partner in McBride.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: The fire will miss the playoffs after the FIRE sale (GET IT? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA) of their players.

Prognosis: They don’t really have a lot of holes and they should be solid in general but this isn’t the type of team that is going to go apeshit and be blowing people out 4-0 every week.

Could finish as high as: 1st, if Dykstra is solid in goal and Collins John plays like he is still at Fulham

Or as low as: 4th, if McBride gets hurt, Dykstra plays like Louis Crayton, and Collins John does absolutely nothing.

 

1. Columbus Crew

Last Year: 13-7-10 49 points, 1st in East, Supporter’s Shield Winners, lost to Salt Lake 4-2 on aggregate in the Eastern Conference Semifinals

Key Losses: Alejandro Moreno

Key Additions: None

Best Fantasy Player: Guillermo Baros Schelotto is such a boss. If you don’t know, don’t play MLS fantasy.

Overview: The Crew probably should have won MLS Cup last year but some questionable coaching decisions and Robbie Findley being a badass cost them the title. Luckily, they return all of their starters except for Moreno who is replaced by the bossy, 80’s dancing, waffro sporting, blonde locked Steven Lenhart. This guy is ready to break out. I predict an 11-goal season for one of my favorite non-DC players. Robbie Rogers had an off year last year, but he should bounce back, especially with all the experience he got from the USMNT last year. Really, there isn’t much to say. They will play good soccer and they will win: end of story.

Bold prediction that likely won’t come true: Lenhart will lead the league in goals.

Prognosis: This team could cruise into the playoffs; it’s just a matter of getting hot at the end of the season in order to win their 4th trophy in 3 years.

Could finish as high as: 1st, it’s going to happen

Or as low as: 2nd, if hell freezes over

 

And now for my Award Picks:

 

Best XI: Donovan Ricketts, Dejan Jakovic, Wilman Conde, Chad Marshall, Brad Davis, David Ferreira, Landon Donovan, Shalrie Joseph, Julian De Guzman, Juan Pablo Angel, Fredy Montero

Rookie of the Year: Tim Ream

Goalkeeper of the Year: Donovan Ricketts

Defender of the year: Wilman Conde

MVP: Juan Pablo Angel

The Best XI is pretty self-explanatory, but really who knows what will happen? Tim Ream is apparently really solid and he should start all the games for New York as long as he isn’t hurt or suspended. I expect him to do at least as well as Omar Gonzales did last year. Donovan Ricketts should improve on his great season last year, as should Wilman Conde, who doesn’t get as much press as he should. Finally, Juan Pablo Angel could challenge for 20 goals this year, especially if he is joined by Henry or Raul half way through the season. Look for him to win his first MVP

 

Lastly, replacing the top ten list every week will be my MLS game predictions. As always, the home team will be listed first:

 

Thursday March 24

Seattle 3 Philadelphia 0

 

Friday March 25

Chivas 1 Colorado 2

 

Saturday March 26

Columbus 3 Toronto 1

Dallas 2 Houston 1

New York 1 Chicago 1

Kansas City 1 DC 2

San Jose 0 Salt Lake 2

LA 3 New England 1

 

That will be all for today. Check in next week for my MLS Week 1 recap.

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