The MLS Talk 2011 Season Predictions

After weeks of previews, discussions, and debates, we are roughly 36 hours away from the beginning of the fifteenth MLS season.  The league has seen an offseason full of drafts, some national team names fleeing to Europe, some old friends returning to the league, some of the league’s first faces becoming the next wave of head coaches, and a new plaimyoff structure that divides fans but gives us some intriguing championship possibilities.

And now it’s time for some soccer.  As a reminder, join me tomorrow evening on this site as we live chat during the MLS First Kick – Los Angeles pays a visit to Seattle for the league’s official first match.  As for the predictions below, the MLS Talk writers were asked to submit their predictions for the final rankings of the 2011 season, as well as the conference playoff winners, MLS Cup winners, and recipients of some of the more high-profile postseason awards.  Agree or disagree?  Sound off in the comments section below.

There were some common elements in our conference standings.  First, we all thought New York was the class of the East and a lock for the #1 seed this year.  As for the rest of the conference, there are some… differences.  Out West, everyone has Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles as the top two seeds, in some order.  Everyone also had the Sounders making the playoffs.  The Wild Card picks were diverse, including some of us who thought the West would have all four wild card spots.  Here are your 2011 conference predictions (playoff teams in bold):

Daniel Feuerstein

Eastern ConferenceWestern Conference
New York Red BullsReal Salt Lake
Houston DynamoLos Angeles Galaxy
Sporting Kansas CitySeattle Sounders
Toronto FCFC Dallas
New England RevolutionChivas USA
Columbus CrewColorado Rapids
DC UnitedSan Jose Earthquakes
Chicago FireVancouver Whitecaps
Philadelphia UnionPortland Timbers

Earl Reed

Eastern ConferenceWestern Conference
New York Red BullsReal Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas CityColorado Rapids
DC UnitedLos Angeles Galaxy
Philadelphia UnionSeattle Sounders
Columbus CrewSan Jose Earthquakes
Houston DynamoFC Dallas
New England RevolutionChivas USA
Chicago FirePortland Timbers
Toronto FCVancouver Whitecaps

Kristan Heneage

Eastern ConferenceWestern Conference
New York Red BullsLos Angeles Galaxy
DC UnitedReal Salt Lake
Houston DynamoSeattle Sounders
Chicago FireFC Dallas
Toronto FCColorado Rapids
New England RevolutionChivas USA
Columbus CrewPortland Timbers
Sporting Kansas CitySan Jose Earthquakes
Philadelphia UnionVancouver Whitecaps

Robert Hay

Eastern ConferenceWestern Conference
New York Red BullsReal Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas CityLos Angeles Galaxy
DC UnitedColorado Rapids
Houston DynamoSeattle Sounders
Philadelphia UnionFC Dallas
Columbus CrewChivas USA
New England RevolutionSan Jose Earthquakes
Chicago FirePortland Timbers
Toronto FCVancouver Whitecaps

MLS Cup predictions: Daniel, Earl, and I agreed that the MLS Cup champ would be a one seed, with Daniel taking the hometown Red Bulls as his pick and Earl and I picking Real Salt Lake.  Kristan went out on a ledge and took DC United to win their fifth MLS Cup.

Most Valuable Player: Again, the top teams reigned in this category.  Daniel selected former Arsenal man Thierry Henry, Earl and Kristan picked U.S. national Landon Donovan, and I went with Alvaro Saborio from the future MLS champions Real Salt Lake.

The Golden Boot: There was much uncertainty in this prediction, and only Earl and I were ambitious enough to wager a guess.  Earl picked my MVP Saborio to take the top goal scorer crown, while I am tipping my cap to our Sounders contigent and picking surprise candidate Fredy Montero.

Coach of the Year: Last season’s coach of the year was veteran coach Schellas Hyndman, although only three of those coaching years were in MLS.  All of our coach of the year selections were new MLS coaches, with Daniel seeing Toronto head man Aron Winter wining the award while Earl and I again agreed upon DC United’s Ben Olsen.

Newcomer of the Year: This category spurred some interesting thoughts from the group.  Last year’s controversial winner was Thierry Henry, showing that MLS sometimes values a name over contributions on the field.  Our predictions were somewhat all over the place: Daniel went with Fabien Castillo of FC Dallas, Earl and I chose Omar Bravo for Sporting KC, and Kristan went with Erik Friberg of the Seattle Sounders.

Rookie of the Year: Much like Newcomer of the Year, the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year race was controversial and had three worthy candidates.  With a loaded draft class this past offseason, you would expect our picks to be very random, and they certainly are.  Daniel continued to predict great success for the Red Bulls by tabbing Juan Agudelo to win the award.  Earl, Kristan, and I were influenced by the University of Akron hype and took Will Bruin, Darlington Nagbe, and WIll Bruin respectively.

Most Improved Player: I asked everyone to submit a suggestion for this category because every year there is an MLS player or two who finally fulfill their hype or potential, and suddenly become big names in the league.  Kristan and Daniel thought that Dane Richards, the Red Bulls winger, would be that player in 2011, while Earl picked Richards’ teammate Tim Ream.  Since I wanted to show my Black-and-Red colors a little, I thought the player who would finally fulfill his promise would be D.C. United’s Branko Boskovic.

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  1. Glenn Williams March 14, 2011
    • Daniel Feuerstein March 14, 2011
    • lol March 14, 2011
      • DanB March 14, 2011
  2. Bandeeto March 14, 2011
  3. Robert March 14, 2011
    • watch both March 14, 2011
      • Brennan March 14, 2011
        • derrickslc March 14, 2011
          • Robert March 15, 2011
  4. Clampdown March 14, 2011
    • Kris Heneage March 14, 2011
      • Clampdown March 14, 2011
      • Charles March 14, 2011
        • Charles March 14, 2011
  5. DomiNate March 14, 2011
    • Dan March 14, 2011
  6. Dan March 14, 2011
    • Jeff March 14, 2011
    • Eric March 14, 2011
  7. kickit March 14, 2011
  8. Alan March 14, 2011
    • Charles March 14, 2011
      • Clampdown March 14, 2011
        • Charles March 14, 2011
          • Clampdown March 15, 2011
          • Clampdown March 15, 2011
          • Charles March 15, 2011
          • Clampdown March 15, 2011
  9. AJ March 14, 2011
  10. Brennan March 14, 2011
  11. dan March 14, 2011
  12. Sancho March 14, 2011
  13. Dan March 14, 2011
  14. Alan March 14, 2011
  15. Charles March 15, 2011
  16. Tyler March 20, 2011

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