TSG’s MLS Pre-Season Predictions, Part I. Part III coming….and now….
Part II of our MLS Predictions roundtable. Don’t catch a hangar!
The Most Annoying Player Award, co-sponsored by Jeff Agoos & Dema Kovalenko:
Jay Bell: Carlos Ruiz. DUH! The fish is back.
Biggy: Dema retired officially now? So we can rename this award the Rafa Marquez award. And its first recipient, why it’s Rafa Marquez.
Jason: Other than the broadcasting? I would name this the Jeff Agoos award by the way. [TSG note: Done!]
J Rodius: Wells Thompson We get it… You have Jesus on speed dial.
Matthew: I have a general rule about a player being caught doing something dirty or borderline-dirty on camera. If the lens captures you more than once in a game, it was just probability. That is, there are probably numerous offenses.
So I watched this one player last year against the Earthquakes nearly the entire game. I watched him trip a player when he was down, throw elbows, yell at his teammates when he was frustrated and only get motivated in small stretches. All the more baffling because, despite the stereotypes associated to him, he’s a pretty good player. His name is Conor Casey.
Toronto FC Memorial Bestowment (Best expansion team):
J Rodius: New York Cosmos Vancouver has Bryan Adams doing press for them. Cosmos counter with Eric Cantona singing “Everything I do, I do with kung fu.”
Jay Bell: Portland Timbers. They have to be. Vancouver may have a better defense with Joe Cannon and Jay Demerit in charge, but the Whitecaps probably lack the star players to put the ball in the back of the net. Portland’s attacking players will earn them more points.
Jason: Timbers. I just don’t see Vancouver scoring many goals.
Biggy: Vancouver: Vancouver’s base is better then I expected and I think they will sneak into the playoffs. Along with 9 other teams in an 18-team league. Guess that isn’t really sneaking in.
Matthew Can I give this to New England. Well, I’m the editor of the publication. The Revolution should beat out the Whitecaps and maybe can handle Portland. But maybe not. Sorry New England fans, it’s not your fault.Praire Rose Clayton, uber Revs fan: I know. TSG: No you don’t. It’s not your fault. PRC: [Serious] I know. TSG: Listen to me lady. It’s not your fault. PRC: I know that. TSG: It’s not your fault.
[PRC is silent, her big foam pointy finger lowered to the ground] TSG: It’s not your fault. PRC: [PRC's eyes open, misty already] Don’t fuck with me TSG. First there was Shalrie, now Taylor. Not you! TSG: It’s not your fault.
Channeling John Harkes: One outrageous prediction:
Jay Bell: MLS breaks the 300,000 viewers per match landmark for the season for ESPN broadcasts, sets new highs on Fox Soccer Channel, and convinces Versus to come on as the #2 MLS broadcaster. When Versus sees that MLS is pushing FSC for even more money after the season and that FSC is desperate to hold onto MLS, Versus will swoop in.
Jason: Juan Agudelo is bought for $10million during the summer transfer window.
Biggy: That John Harkes, at some point in the year 2011, properly identifies the American Outlaws at a USMNT game. Okay, that is too absurd. Maybe just that Anelka gets bored with Chelsea, comes in August and partners with Juan and Titi who now have some sick chemistry to set a league record in playoff goals on their way to an MLS cup. That seems more reasonable then my first prediction.
J Rodius: Freddy Montero exits in the summer transfer window.
Matthew: Dynamooooo! Plausible: David Suazo, Houston Dynamo, #9. Not really plausible: Guillermo Barros Schelotto signs on with Houston and they make it to the playoff semis.
Jay Bell: Nick Rimando. He has the ability to make the spectacular save on the rare occasion that the RSL defense breaks down. Matt Reis is likely to play very motivated this season.
Biggy: Sean Johnson. 2018 have no fear, beastmode Sean is here!
J Rodius: Sean Johnson: Dude’s name sounds like if P Diddy had a clothing line for porn stars. What else do you need?
Matthew: The Chicago Fire’s P Diddy, Sean Johnson. He’s that good. He’s exceedingly calm. Makes big saves. Quietly marshals his defense. And he’s way too young to be doing all this well, but he does. [This sounded more clever before reading J Rodius's response.]
Jason: Kevin Hartman was probably the best goalkeeper last year. I’ll be interested to see how Mondragan settles in.
Best Wing Defender:
Matthew: As President of the Sean Franklin Fan Appreciation Association, my loyalties are already decided. If Franklin suddenly went Heath Pearce on me? Well I would give this title to Zach Loyd who impressed me with his dedication in standing up any and all comers during the USA-Chile friendly in January.
Jay Bell: Bobby Convey. TSG is the Sean Franklin fan club, right? But will he play out wide much this season? Kerrea Gilbert brings an unfulfilled potential and Didier Domi has an impressive pedigree. I still see no reason to think that Convey will not continue his form into the 2011 season.
Jason: This season it very well could be Zach Loyd. If Backe signs and deploys Tainio at RB then he’s my frontrunner – too much pedigree.
J Rodius: Sean Franklin with a frohawk that sharp, he’s already got an aerodynamic advantage over the rest of the league.
Most Overrated Player:
J Rodius: Julian De Guzman. Dude is the MLS equivalent to a hipster bar on Yelp. Rated way too high for the price you have to pay.
Jay Bell: The Colorado Rapids centerbacks. If the trend from last season continues, the spine of the Rapids should remain strong and it even resurrected Marvell Wynne’s national team career . . . where he made everyone remember why he has been absent from the US. Jeff Larentowcz and Pablo Mastroeni provide Wynne and Drew Moor with a lot of protection and put out a lot of fires before it even gets to the back line.
Matthew: Donovan Ricketts. A thousand times. I’m not certain how Ricketts keeps getting all this respect. His reaction speed is below average; making routine saves look extraordinary.
He plays behind a solid backline which came apart as the seams last year in Gregg Berhalter’s absence; let’s remember he’s a veteran and supposed to marshal that back line. He does all this for a team with a ton of offensive firepower which usually keeps the pressure off. Whew, Ricketts saved you Robbie Rogers and Kev Alston, huh?
Biggy: Omar Bravo. Just out of spite for the Mexican national team, plus Mexican DPs seem to struggle.
Jason: In the context of this forum? Sean Franklin, sorry Matty.
Most Underrated Player:
Jay Bell: Michael Harrington. He probably would have gotten his chance with the national team a couple of years ago if he played in New York, LA, DC, or Texas. He is steady and he just re-upped with Sporting KC.
Biggy: Chris Wondolowski. Still. I really don’t think people understand how much he does for a rather mediocre San Jose side that Chamo and I were convinced that we could have started for multiple times last year. Not to mention, look at who partners him up top. I’d rather have a cardboard cutout of Thierry Henry and one of Taylor Twellman’s kick medic things.
Jason: Last season I would have said Lindpere, this season it will be Santino Quaranta. Davies and Najar will get a lot of the press, as well Dax with his energy. Osvaldo Alonso and Kyle Beckerman also come to mind.
J Rodius: Osvaldo Alonso. Does the kind of dirty work in midfield that makes him the kind of dude you’d most likely call to help you hide a body.
Matthew, TSG: Lots of folks in this bucket her for me so I’ll cheat. Both RSL midfield accomplices in Andy Williams and Will Johnson. Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso, vastly underrated. Andy Iro. Santino. Sam Cronin.
But for me, a consumate professional, a tireless worker, wheels and great service is just part of the package of Brad Davis. Underrated, year-in and year-out. Guy didn’t even make the All-Star team in his hometown last year. Gimme a break. This is a lifetime achievement award for the Jude Law look-a-like.
The David Beckham Award for player who doesn’t give a shit:
Jay Bell: Shalrie Joseph and Dwayne De Rosario are showing scary signs of going into this season with a lose-lose attitude.
Jason: Eddie Johnson. He will return, and he will not give a shit.
Matthew: Terrible form by TSG here, but this award goes to David Beckham. He just takes the cake…and the money. Runner-up? Whoever is responsible for lobbying for a stadium in DC.
Biggy: Bobby Convey, as in he doesn’t give a shit what you think, what Bob thinks or even what fake Bob thinks. He is gonna do his thing. If he feels like it.
J Rodius: Carlos Ruiz. Dude is the Razor Scooter of soccer players. Makes a beautiful bike in 2005 and then cashes in on it for life!
Best ratio of worst haircut to most skilled:
Jay Bell: Nat Borchers.
Biggy: Please just rename this to the Brek Shea quantifier. That’s all.
J Rodius: Matt Pickins’s Beard. Dude’s chin looks like Rosie O’Donnell landing strip.
Matthew: Tim Ream, might work if he was a member of the Timbers, but Gotham neighbor and Red Bulls? Nope.