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:
From the 9 conference ranking predictions:
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.
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 …