Posts Tagged ‘predictions’

MLS Predictions: Come October, We’ll See How Badly I’ve Done

March 15, 2011

While everybody’s filling out NCAA Tournament brackets (having worked in college athletics, I can’t bring myself to follow NCAA Division I men’s basketball anymore — doing so makes me feel dirty. Women’s college basketball and Division II and III men’s are another story, since they don’t have the same reek of exploitation), here’s my prediction for how the 2011 Major League Soccer standings will look by season’s end.

The Major League Soccer logo.I’ve decided to list it in a single-table format rather than breaking it down by conference. The top ten will most likely be the playoff teams, unless the Eastern Conference turns out to suck vis-á-vis the West even worse than anybody thinks right now. I won’t guess point totals, other than to say I think things will be very, very tight, especially from fifth to fifteenth place. There will be a lot of teams that will miss the postseason by just a couple of points.

  1. Los Angeles Galaxy
  2. FC Dallas
  3. New York Red Bulls
  4. Real Salt Lake
  5. Seattle Sounders FC
  6. Colorado Rapids
  7. Columbus Crew
  8. San Jose Earthquakes
  9. Sporting Kansas City SC
  10. Philadelphia Union
  11. D.C. United
  12. Chicago Fire
  13. Portland Timbers
  14. CD Chivas USA
  15. Toronto FC
  16. Houston Dynamo
  17. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  18. New England Revolution
The Hindenburg crashes and burns.

Revs supporters, this is what you can look forward to — provided everything goes well.

One of the things that makes MLS predictions tough is that, as a whole, the league tends to improve quite a bit with each passing year. One team looks to be much improved, but you don’t know whether that’s enough compared to everyone else to make all that much of a difference. This is why I’ll end up saying Chicago and Chivas, for example, will be better than last year, but I still have them winding up 12th and 14th, respectively.

My ordering of teams from about #6 to #15 is basically a crapshoot. Clearly, I think Portland will be the better of the two expansion teams this year. Vancouver seems to be setting itself up to be a heck of a team in a couple of years, but this year will likely be necessary collateral damage from their long term plans. The only other two I see being truly bad are Houston and New England. Frankly, New England will have a season on par with D.C. United’s disaster last year or the Pink Cows’ epic 2009 adventure through the bowels of the standings.

Smashed can of Red Bull.

I'd say they have a shot at the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup if it weren't for the fact the universe hates them even more than Philly fans do.

Conversely, L.A., Dallas and New York will be the big three this year, with Seattle and Salt Lake knocking on their door. The way things stand right now, the Galaxy have to be the favorites (as much as I hate to say it) with Dallas (as much as I hate to say it) and the Soft Drink Commercials (as much as I hate to say it) giving them a run for their money. Meanwhile, RSL and Seattle will be looking to crack that top tier (and could very well do it, but so far I’m viewing the first three mentioned as the safer picks). So, yes, I’m picking the three teams I despise the most to finish one-two-three.

I wasn’t sure where exactly to put Colorado, as they tend to be a very hot-and-cold team, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt from being the reigning MLS Cup champions and put them sixth. If they do finish that high, it’ll probably be in part because they totally ignore the CONCACAF Champions League and crash out of the group stage in totally embarrassing fashion to MLS (I clearly don’t think the Rapids’ MLS Cup win in 2010 is the same as RSL’s surprise win in 2009: a harbinger of the rise of one of the league’s — and the continent’s — great teams).

I’m going a little out on a limb by thinking Columbus has reloaded in the off-season more than begun a rebuilding process. I saw San Jose play at Philadelphia last year, and they frankly impressed the heck out of me. The ‘Quakes are a very well-coached, well-disciplined team that plays very well together and doesn’t seem to need a lot of big star power. I was tempted to flip-flop their place with that of Colorado; if there’s a “sleeper pick” for 2011, it’s probably San Jose. KC always seems to be on the edge of being a fairly good team, and it’s a total guess of mine in putting them ninth.

D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and Chivas will all be significantly improved over last year, but whether or not that’s good enough to get playoff spots is anybody’s guess. I will say I wouldn’t be surprised if a few or even all of them manage to crack the top ten by season’s end. I went with Philly at the top of that group, not out of personal bias, but rather out of the fact that when you look at the numbers from last year, they probably would have been a strong contender for a playoff spot if only they’d had a decent goalie. As long as Faryd Mondragón stays healthy, that problem’s been solved. If they’d had a decent goalie and held the red card/defensive brain farts to a minimum, they probably would have been in the playoffs as an expansion team last year. A year of experience for this young team and a few more acquisitions look like they’ll help there, too.

Toronto, which has spent every previous off-season retooling its staff and roster to the extent that it’s like getting an expansion team all over again, will see more of the same this year as it once again spent the off-season retooling its staff and roster to the extent that it’s like getting an expansion team all over again. At least this Toronto might-as-well-be-an-expansion team will be a little better than some of the others they’ve had, but it won’t make a difference against an equally improved league.

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Mmmmm . . . Crow

June 24, 2009

Me predicting the 2009 SuperLiga winner, June 20:

Chivas USA . . . will simply run away with this puppy.

Since then:

  • Tigres UANL 2, Chivas USA 1
  • Chicago Fire 1, Chivas USA 0

Damn, I’m good.

I Predict the 2009 SuperLiga Winner

June 20, 2009

The 2009 SuperLiga kicks off tonight, which is sort of like North America’s smaller equivalent of the UEFA Cup (or whatever it is that UEFA has decided to call it now), pitting the top four Major League Soccer and top four Primera División de México clubs that didn’t qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League against one another. I’m actually watching the opening Chicago Fire-San Luis game right now.

It’s a concept I’ve always liked since it started a couple of years ago. Last year produced the surprising result of two MLS teams (New England and Houston) facing off in the championship game, and I’m going to predict that the title will stay in the hands of an American club this year, too. Chivas USA, I believe, will simply run away with this puppy.

Not that I want to see that happen. My sentimental favorite is Atlas, which is based in Guadalajara. They won the Mexican league title.

Once.

Back in the early 1950s.

That’s it.

As someone who grew up rooting for Philadelphia sports teams, I can sympathize. I would love to see Atlas win the SuperLiga this year, but I doubt that will happen, because it appears the universe hates them almost as much as it hates the Chicago Cubs. Instead, their crosstown rival’s American satellite will win it, (C.D. “Chivas” Guadalajara owns Chivas USA, which is based in Los Angeles) thereby adding insult to injury.

My Uninformed FA Cup Predictions

March 27, 2008

As I feel most qualified to provide expert advice in subjects about which I know nothing at all, here are my predictions for how the remainder of English soccer’s FA Cup will unfold. I am sure that all individuals intending to gamble upon the outcomes of the upcoming matches will indubitably hang upon every clueless word of this completely random Yank.

No matter which club wins the cup this year, there is one certain outcome: it will be a historic result. For the first time in recent memory, none of the Premier League’s “Big Four,” consisting of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United, have reached the semifinals. The last time a team from outside the big four won the FA Cup was way back in 1995, when Everton won.

On top of that, three of the four teams in the semifinals this year are from outside the top flight of English soccer. There is only one Premier League team remaining, Portsmouth, and the other three remaining competitors are from the second-flight Championship League, Barnsley, Cardiff City, and West Bromwich Albion. You have to go even further back, to 1980, to find the last time a club from outside the top flight won the FA Cup.

The semifinal round matchups stack up thusly: West Bromwich will face Portsmouth April 5, and Barnsley will take on Cardiff City April 6. Both games will be played at Wembley Stadium.

At this point, you basically have to look at Portsmouth, which is sitting in sixth place out of 20 teams in the Premier League right now and knocked off Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the quarterfinals to get this far in the tournament, as the likely favorite. However, the team Portsmouth has to play April 5, West Bromwich Albion, is currently in fifth place out of 24 teams in the Championship League and may well be the most consistent over the course of the season of the remaining FA Cup contenders. Sitting just four points back from second place with two fewer games played, WBA has a decent chance of getting promoted to the Premier League for next year. Portsmouth has been very good at home this year and very spotty on the road.

I’m going to go out on a limb on this game and predict that WBA will pull off the upset, 2-1.

As for the Barnsley-Cardiff City game April 6, this one’s a real toss-up. On the one hand, Barnsley, noted for playing in English football’s second tier for more years than any other club in history, is mired all the way back in 18th place in the Championship League with just 11 wins, 15 losses and 13 ties in league play. However, Barnsley has also showed that when the team manages to get all cylinders firing at once, it is fully capable of knocking off the best of the best. You could have said that Barnsley’s knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup round of 16 was a fluke, until Barnsley followed that with a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Chelsea to reach the FA Cup semifinals for the first time since 1912. If these guys again manage to get everything to click, there could be no stopping them. If not, well, you get the idea, based upon their place in the Championship League table.

Then there’s Cardiff City, the team that is actually from Wales, not England, and could throw a huge monkey wrench into English football’s European competition qualification system if it manages to win the FA Cup. The way the rules are set up, the winner of the FA Cup is supposed to receive an automatic berth in the European UEFA Cup tournament. However, that berth is supposed to be for a team from England, the way the rules are now. Because Cardiff City chose to play in English leagues rather than Welsh leagues way back before Europe-wide club competition became a normal thing, the Bluebirds may be left out in the cold if they win the FA Cup. Personally, I think if this Welsh team is good enough to win England’s most prestigious cup tournament, it fully deserves to receive that English UEFA Cup bid, but my opinion, and those of Cardiff City’s fans, in such matters really doesn’t matter to those who make the decisions. Anyway, Cardiff City currently sits in 13th place in the Championship League with 13 wins, 12 losses and 13 ties. I’ve only seen Cardiff City play one time on TV this year; it was their 2-0 demolition clinic on the road against Premier League Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarterfinals. This seems like another team that, when it’s on fire, there could be no stopping it.

Not helping prognostication, Barnsley and Cardiff City have only played each other once so far this season, and it was a 1-1 tie. So, here’s my guess: Barnsley will have a bit more magic fairy dust left for this game than Cardiff City, and the Tykes will squeak by 1-0.

If I’m correct about the semifinals, which is a big if, that would set up an all-Championship League FA Cup title game between West Bromwich Albion and Barnsley. Those teams have played one another twice in the Championship League this year, with WBA winning the first game 2-0 and Barnsley winning the second 2-1. My prediction for the championship game is that it will be where Barnsley’s luck runs out, and WBA will win another 2-0 game for the trophy and a berth in the next UEFA Cup.


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