MLS – Predictions vs Reality


Way back in March, I wrote a post with links to the preseason predictions of some of the most widely read soccer pundits. Among the prognosticators that went so far as to designate playoff teams were Ives, a consolidation of ESPNSoccernet writers, Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports and seven others. In all I collected the predictions of 15 posts. From those posts there were nine predictions of conference tables and ten single table predictions. Some of the conference table seers were willing to select a playoff eight while others were only willing to pick the top two in each conference. Probably a smart move given the parity that prevails in MLS.

Observations Back Then

From the 10 full table power rankings:

  • All 9 of 10 rankings have Columbus either 1 or 2.
  • 8 of the 10 have Chicago either 1 or 2.
  • The other two have Chivas and Houston in the top 2.
  • 4 of the 9 rank LA at the bottom.
  • Everyone has Columbus, Chicago, Houston, Real Salt Lake in the top 8(playoff position).

    From the 9 conference ranking predictions:

  • All 9 rankings have Columbus and Chicago either 1 or 2 in the East.
  • 8 of 9 have Houston and RSL finishing 1 or 2 in the West. Climbing the Ladder pairs Houston and FC Dallas(the highest anyone has FCD).
  • Kartik gives the highest ranking to newcomer Seattle(3rd in West).

    LA is the only team that no one picks to make the playoffs.
    Chivas has the widest range of predicted finish, from a 2 by Noah Davis of SI to a 15 from the Fullback Files.
    Only the Fullback Files pick San Jose to make the playoffs.

    So how’d they do??? Here’s a look at the average finish predicted by those who looked into their crystal ball and saw a 1-15 power ranking(10 pundits plus me). Also listed is my preseason table along with the actual final 2009 MLS table.

      Predictions Actual
          Playoffs Peter
        Avg In Out  
    1  CLB  1.5   11   0   CHI  CLB
    2  CHI  2.0   11   0   CLB  LA
    3  HOU  4.1   11   0   RSL  HOU
    4  RSL  4.5   10   1   HOU  SEA
    5  NY  6.3   8   3   NY  CHI
    6  TFC  6.5   9   2   SJ  CHV
    7  CHV  8.5   7   4   TFC  NE
    8  NE  8.7   6   5   CHV  RSL
    9  KC  8.7   5   6   NE  CO
    10  SJ  10.0   3   8   SEA  DCU
    11  FCD  11.1   2   9   CO  FCD
    12  DCU  11.2   2   9   LA  TFC
    13  CO  11.6   2   9   FCD  KC
    14  SEA  12.4   1   10   KC  SJ
    15  LA  13.1   0   11   DCU  NY

    Observations and Surprises

    Working down from the top of the final table …

    Everyone, and I mean everyone missed on the Galaxy. No one had them higher than 10th(5th in the west). Too old, too slow and no defense. Solution, two rookies surprise on defense, draw 9 of the first 17 games, then double the points in the last 13 games after Golden Balls’ return. On the other hand, everyone’s intuition was spot on in their unanimous pick of Columbus, Chicago and Houston making the playoffs. All but one also had RSL making the big show, however RSL just squeaked in while almost everyone had them challenging for a top 4 spot. Only Bleacher Report had the Lakers out of the top 8(13).

    Kartik was not only correct in predicting Seattle’s 3rd place finish in the west, but was the only poster that had the Sounders in the playoffs. Then we come to the disaster known as the Red Bulls. Of the 10 posters(and myself) that predicted a single table, 8 of us had RBNY in the playoffs. It should be noted though that several conference-only predictors were more sanguine about their chances, with Buzz Carrick, Kyle McCarthy, Greg Seltzer and again our own Kartik using better crystal balls and placing RBNY 6th in the east.

    Beyond that, it was pretty much a generic mixed bag. Given how close the point race was with the also rans, the posters did pretty well in having little faith in Toronto, KC, Dallas, San Jose the Rapids and DC United. Yes, there was an exception here and there but the only selection that I might call even a slight disappointment would be Toronto(12th) which most everyone had in the 6-9 range.

    And Next Year?

    Before we start hot stoving over who will be exposed in the Philadelphia expansion draft, how will the 2010 draft impact teams(’09 will be a tough act to follow) and other such off-season musings, here are some early thoughts rolling around in my head …

  • How much did Colorado miss Colin Clark after his season ending injury?
  • What will be the difference in play in New Jersey on grass?
  • Can Dallas keep the momentum going. They have a nucleus of young talent, but can Cunningham come close to (or repeat) his Golden Boot performance?
  • Will Taylor Twellman return and approach top form?
  • If RSL can win just a few more games on the road, will they finally fulfill the promise many thought would show through this year?
  • Coming into this season I thought San Jose might take a step up with Huckerby, an emerging Ryan Johnson, Arturo Alvarez and an incoming Bobby Convey and Cam Weaver. Oh well, what now?
  • With Rolfe(and possibly Blanco and Pappa) gone, and McBride a year older, will Nyarko, Thorington and Husidic step up and keep Chicago among the top tier in MLS? I’m getting tired of waiting for Justin Mapp to be that guy.
  • Will we finally see a season where Chivas USA’s injury list doesn’t look like a 3rd grade attendance book during flu season?
  • By 2010, I’ll have lived in 6 of the 16 MLS metroplexes, but none were in existence during my time in those areas.
  • With the closest pro team(at any level) six hours away and having lived for around 10 years in the Philly area, I think I’ll be cheering for the Union next year. Just playing the waiting game for a team to come to the Valley of the Sun.

  • 13 thoughts on “MLS – Predictions vs Reality”

    1. Houston also has many questions. One of the deepest midfields in the league in 2008, the Dynamo played several games in the end of 2009 with only 4 midfielders in their 18. Two of these players (Holden, Clark) could be gone in 2010. The core of the Houston/San Jose franchise all get a year older. (Most are 31+). Many of these players also make significant $$ and are not longer in a starting role.
      The Dynamo must renegotiate with its veterans or cut them outright, find a way to hold on to Holden, and find some depth in midfield.
      But first they need to finish of FC Hollywood and get in the cup finals.

    2. yea this might be houston last shot at another title. after this year it might be a good idea to start getting younger. Ching is there so build around him, try to hold on to Holden, if Onstead still has gas left in the tank hold on to him and get a young keeper that can be an understudy.

      1. Dynamo currently have Tally Hall. He’s 24 and first year in MLS after a few seasons overseas at Esbjerg FB (Denmark). He has not played an MLS game, but performed well in the Open Cup and CONCACAF.

    3. i am very excited about next year and 2011 with Philadelphia, Portland, and Vancouver coming into the league and maybe 2 more teams by 2012.

      hopefully the league will raise the salary cap and make the minimum salary 40k. I think the league needs to have 2 spots on the roster that don’t count against the roster. At least on of the 2 spots would have to go towards an homegrown Player. So the player would have to be from the USA or Canada. Another thing is keep the SuperDraft but also allow teams to use players from there academy. Academy players would only count against an Academy Cap. I think it would really help the league move forward.

      1. My thoughts are the same Dan. Each new team to join MLS has increased the excitement and popularity of the league. It’s great that the Philly fans will have their own team next year and who among us MLS fans can’t wait until the first Northwest Derby!

        It’s time to relax roster spots as you state. Three spots would be fine by me and if the Tv ratings continue to increase this should be within the financial ability of the league with increased revenue.

    4. another thing that is a possibility is that the TOA could join the MLS. If that were the case the teams would have to be a winter league that would not be able to join the MLS until there Stadiums were setup and they have the Finacial backing. they would not be allowed to have an expansion Draft. the winter league would be a Reserve league.

    5. I agree on the speculation around Chicago, but I’d even add a few more players to that list of folks leaving, namely two defenders: Conde and Segares.

      I feel like Wilman’s already got his feet out the door, which is too bad, but he’s definitely good enough to play in a bigger league. Gonzo has shown nothing but loyalty to the organization, but I think he has to go to a bigger league as well if he wants consistent playing time with Costa Rica. He’s good enough to do it, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t.

      That leaves Chicago’s defense looking like Tim Ward, Dasan Robinson, CJ Brown, and Daniel Woolard. That’s not actually that bad, but a significant step down from the group that started the year. CJ can’t be long for professional soccer, and I guess he gives the Fire a year more at best.

      Chicago started the year as one of the deepest teams in the league, and once this season is done I’m afraid that most of that depth will be gone. Klopas and Hamlett need to work hard to identify new talent to bring into the squad.

    6. Conde still has another year left. While segares could play in a bigger league, I think his injury problems this year will hurt his chances. While Chicago will have money to play around with once Blanco leaves and with some allocation cash from the Soumare deal. They won’t be in a terrible situation to rebuild and maintain at least some of their players.

      Anyway, what is up with Justin Mapp? Fire fans still can’t understand why we gave him a million dollar deal and not someone like Sega or rolfe.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *