Thursday, March 30, 2006

MLS picks for 2006

With two days to go till MLS kick starts their 11th season, I feel it only appropriate to predict the on come of the season. There is no way I can do better then Bruce's Belly, but still, I'll give it a go.

1. DC United - I think DC will make a good run for glory this year. With Peter Nowak in charge, they will find ways to make things happen. Christian Gomez is going to have a wonderful year. They will also benefit from an understaffed New England team.

2. Chicago Fire - The Fire will need to survive a grueling road trip to start the season (11 of their first 12 matches are away), but if they can walk away from it with 15 points, they will be very well positioned. The team is young, but this season, that might be a very good thing. With a lot of the top vets away on national duty, a young team could just come into their own.

3. New England - The Revs will be a good team this year, but they will suffer from the World Cup. However, unlike certain teams (KC, I'm looking at you), they have a good club even without their stars. Having an outstanding coach helps out as well.

4. New York - When I was first thinking about this list over the weekend, I had them in 5th place, but with the addition of Edson Buddle, they now have a chance at offense. The team is still disorganized and will take a month or so to gel, but with all the money the new owners are putting into fan relations, there is sure to be something sort of increase in play.

5. Columbus - Coach Sigi Schmid has done some good with this team during the off-season, but I still think they will come up short mainly because they don't have an offensive threat. John Wolyniec brings some experience, but he cannot do it alone. Their midfield should be decent, but with no one to serve the ball to, they will be in a difficult position. Still they will make a close race out of it with New York for spot number four.

6. Kansas City - They have Eddie Johnson and Josh Wolff, how could I put them in last? Well, they are going to be gone for almost a third of the season due to international duty, so where are the goals going to come from? Their defense might be able to keep them in it, but I think they will miss out by about 6 points.

1. FC Dallas - Could this finally be the year for the former Burn? Offense should not be a problem. With Ruiz, Mina, Thompson and Cooper out front, getting on the board should not be a big concern. The big question for the team is the defense. They need to sort out the goalkeeper situation and find a way to make the back play as a full group. If the defense clicks, it will be good times for Big D.

2. Chivas USA - Bob Bradley is a hell of a coach and he has brought in the talent needed to make a winning club, but why place them in second? Well, I think they will make the playoffs this year and I think teams 3 and 4 will have a different reasons for not stopping them (see below) and there is bound to be a big surprise this year, so why not?

3. Houston - The former 'Quakes are still together, but the change of location and all that has gone with it will mess with them a bit. Add to it the fun of playing in 90+ degree heat with extremely high humidity for 2-3 months, and I think you have a bit of a slow down for the team. They are still good and will threaten, but they will not be the juggernaut they were during the 2005 regular season.

4. Los Angeles - Does anyone expect LA to show up more during this regular season then they did last season? Just getting by worked out great for them in 2005, so why not do it again? The team is good enough to keep on pace and will make the playoffs. However, even with Landon back, I think they will not be raising the MLS Cup again this year.

5. Salt Lake - The large-scale changes that this team undertook over the off-season will work out well for them. Getting Jeff Cunningham will make them a huge scoring threat and having Chris Klein should bring a nice calm to their midfield that Clint Mathis never could. If they didn't have so little to build on from last year, I would consider moving them into fourth, but I just don't see a way for them to sneak past the Galaxy.

6. Colorado - What does Colorado have this year that they did not have last year? Their biggest move was giving Real Cunningham for Mathis. I can't say that was a plus for them. I think Jean Philippe Peguero, Dedi Ben-Dayan and Pablo Mastroeni will have nice runs, but not enough to make it to the playoffs in a much tougher Western Conference.

DC United beats New York
New England beats Chicago
FC Dallas beats LA
Houston beats Chivas

New England beats DC United
FC Dallas beats Houston

FC Dallas beats New England

There are my picks. If I do as well guessing this year's winner as I did last year, you can look forward to a Colorado vs Kansas City MLS Cup final. Enjoy the season.


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