As our long-time readers know, MLS Talk likes to provide serious, well-thought out news analysis mixed with offbeat and laughable soccer-related thoughts.  This is the latter type of post.

Prior to First Kick 2011, the MLS Talk writers got together to give some predictions for the upcoming season.  At the time, we promised we’d resurrect the predictions to take credit for everything we got right.  Little did we know that such a post would only be about 1-2 sentences if actually written.  Regardless, as promised, here are our predictions for the 2011 season, and a little bit of analysis/defending from yours truly on the picks.  Feel free to post your wrong predictions (and correct ones) in the comments section.

The Final Standings

Prior to the season, it was common knowledge that RSL was the deepest team in the league and was thus primed to make a run at the Supporters Shield.  What we didn’t know was that their loss in the CONCACAF Champions League final and injuries would derail their season, in addition to improved LA and Seattle squads.  As such, only Kristan Heneage accurately predicted that Los Angeles would finish atop the Western Conference.  In fact, besides flip-flopping RSL and Seattle, he got the conference’s top five correct.

As for the Eastern Conference, the chaos that ensued was reflected in our picks.  We all got New York wrong as the Eastern Conference winner but at least they made the playoffs.  Earl Reed identified three teams correctly that made the playoffs from the East, but probably regrets picking DC to finish above Philadelphia.  Playoff picks are in bold.

Daniel Feuerstein

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Real Salt Lake
Houston Dynamo Los Angeles Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City Seattle Sounders
Toronto FC FC Dallas
New England Revolution Chivas USA
Columbus Crew Colorado Rapids
DC United San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire Vancouver Whitecaps
Philadelphia Union Portland Timbers

Earl Reed

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City Colorado Rapids
DC United Los Angeles Galaxy
Philadelphia Union Seattle Sounders
Columbus Crew San Jose Earthquakes
Houston Dynamo FC Dallas
New England Revolution Chivas USA
Chicago Fire Portland Timbers
Toronto FC Vancouver Whitecaps

Kristan Heneage

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United Real Salt Lake
Houston Dynamo Seattle Sounders
Chicago Fire FC Dallas
Toronto FC Colorado Rapids
New England Revolution Chivas USA
Columbus Crew Portland Timbers
Sporting Kansas City San Jose Earthquakes
Philadelphia Union Vancouver Whitecaps

Robert Hay

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United Colorado Rapids
Houston Dynamo Seattle Sounders
Philadelphia Union FC Dallas
Columbus Crew Chivas USA
New England Revolution San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire Portland Timbers
Toronto FC Vancouver Whitecaps

MLS Cup Predictions

We were 0-4 on this one.  Earl and I picked Real Salt Lake to hoist the MLS Cup while Daniel thought Rafa Marquez would be showering Thierry Henry with champagne.  Kristan’s pick (DC United) didn’t make the playoffs.

Most Valuable Player

In our defense, while none of us correctly predicted this category, all of our picks were somewhat in the running toward the end of the year.  Daniel had Thierry Henry taking home the trophy while Earl and Kristan had Landon Donovan.  My pick made a late run but was still misguided: Alvaro Saborio.

The Golden Boot

Only Earl and I were ambitious enough to guess at this category, and my pick (Montero 12) edged his (Saborio 11).

Coach of the Year

Interestingly, none of us had a coach that was remotely in the running, although our picks by the end of the season were setting themselves up as candidates for next year.  All of our coach of the year selections were new MLS coaches, with Daniel seeing Toronto head man Aron Winter winning the award while Earl and I agreed upon DC United’s Ben Olsen.

Newcomer of the Year

Again, our picks were solid choices that for the most part contributed in some way but didn’t merit consideration.  Daniel went with Fabien Castillo of FC Dallas, Earl and I chose Omar Bravo for Sporting KC, and Kristan went with the right team  but wrong player (Erik Friberg of the Seattle Sounders).

Rookie of the Year

Well what can you say.  Who’d have thunk that C.J. Sapong would have played such a large roll for Sporting Kansas City?  Well we didn’t think he’d play a bigger role than Juan Agudelo (Daniel), Will Bruin (Earl and I), and Darlington Nagbe (Kristan).

Most Improved Player

Admittedly, this is one of the hardest categories to predict.  With so many players in the league, who will be the one who exceeds their previous year’s stats to be given an award?  Three of us thought that it would be someone from the Red Bulls: Kristan and Daniel thought that Dane Richards would be that player in 2011, while Earl picked Richards’ teammate Tim Ream.  However, the award for most laughable prediction for 2011 goes to me, and here is a direct quote from my prediction:

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.