One thing that always bugs me about sports coverage….and reason #345 why we started The Shin Guardian…is that no one ever goes back and evaluates their predictions in great detail. Nobody calls themselves out!
This happens all the time in the business world.
You build a model based upon assumptions within a certain range and then after you execute on the product or service, you look back at model and see what you got right and what you got wrong.
Well, we do that today on The Shin Guardian.
A bunch of us knuckleheads–if you remember–got together for a little roundtable before the season and made some plain stupid predictions, audacious predictions and one or two savvy ones. And now we evaluate.
To refresh, he’s all who satisfied the $.50 buy-in:
Seated at the head of the circular table, he’s an AP published reporter, a hell of a video maker, and it is my pleasure to have him
write once write for The Shin Guardian. He’s Jay Bell.
Our next participant never met a goal he liked…that’s because he was an award-winning collegiate keeper (at Middlebury). And, get this, he also led the 2nd division Maliwian national league in scoring and was so revered he became a Malawian national team assistant coach. True story. He’s Jason Price.
Jared DuBois drops science every week as the co-host of the Best Soccer Show podcast, aptly named since Apple had to add another iTunes server to handle the download rate.
He’s an unabashed Los Angeles Galaxy man who may go postal if Herculez Gomez doesn’t get a sniff of Jurgen Klinsmann’s personal locker room. Wait, that didn’t sound right.
Here we go:
Golden Boot Winner:
MLS Winner: Dwayne DeRosario
Jason Price: Pre: Victor Estupian
For the record, the Estupinan thing was in jest.
I think at the time I would have thought Le Toux would have been a fair bet. I’m shocked to see that Wondo quietly had another very good year.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Omar Cummings
Will Nicolas Anelka pass the Le Sulk nickname this way. It sure seems that pouting, not scoring, was Omar Cummings job in the follow-up to the MLS Cup win this year in Colorado.
Injured for part of the year and seemingly disinterested as well after an attempt to impress and transfer to Aston Villa fell through.
What is it with moody Jamaican strikers? (Ricardo Fuller, Ryan Johnson).
Jared DuBois: Pre: Juan Pablo An-hahahaha-gel
As comically bad as my JPA pick looks now in hindsight, of the players picked by our panel he is tied for the second best pick with Saborio on 10 goals.
If he had only started the season with LA’s younger step brother he may have had a chance. But while we are on goal scorers, how quiet has Chris Wondolowski’s 14 goals been? The guy has got no pub all season long and is only one goal behind DeRo going into the last game.
Jay Bell: Pre: Landon Donovan; Post: Brek Shea
Brek Shea. How many people remember that David Ferreira was the leader of this team? Playmakers have an abnormally strong impact in MLS. Other teams have not handled losing their playmaker that well: DC United (Christian Gomez), Chicago (Blanco), Columbus (Schelotto), etc.
Shea has been a force on a team that needed it. The guy tracks back pretty well too.
Jason Price: Pre: Landon Donovan; Post: Kasey Keller
In honor of his retirement I’m going to go with Kasey Keller on this one.
Seattle had an outstanding season, and this can be attributed in part to his calm and confidence in the back. Have a look at the league leaders in saves this year. Keller is currently third, just two shy of Matt Reis. Ask yourself when the last time a team finishing second in the league table demanded their GK make that many saves…
Jared DuBois: Pre: Javy Morales; Post: Maybe Javy Morales?
You know what’s awesome about picking a player that got injured? I, technically, have the editorial equivalent of Diplomatic Immunity. I am above the law! Try to prove Javi Morales wouldn’t have been the winner.
You can’t! Techincally, as I write this, he still has 90 minutes to convince the league the award should be his.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Landon Donovan; Post: Brad Davis
You’ve read TSG before, right? Okay, let’s move on.
Most Surprising Team
Jay Bell: Pre: Union; Post: Dynamo
I picked the Union in the preseason, but they’re not surprising to me anymore. Now, for me, it is the Houston Dynamo. They were pretty good before and after the Koke “debacle,” if you can call it that. They barely risked anything other than time on him.
Their veterans continue to perform at a high level, their youngsters have stepped up and some in-season acquisitions have performed much better than Koke did.
Jason Price: Pre: Union; Post: Crew
This would have to be the Crew, who’ve put in another quality shift for a town that appears to not care less. How do they stay competitive with the roster they have? Much credit to Sebastian, James and Marshall – I’d take any of them over Rafa Marquez in MLS anyday.
Jared DuBois Pre: Union; Post: Sporting KC
I’m going to buck the trend set here by our humble editor and say The Union is not the most surprising team. I’m going to go with Sporting KC.
This is the best collection of young unabashed athletic players since Chris Webber needed a time out. All SKC needs now are black socks and boosters.
Matthew, TSG Pre: Timbers; Post: Crew
I thought the Timbers would challenge for a playoff spot….which they did…..thanks to the Megabus.
But just like the rest of you folks, I cannot believe the Crew with as few offensive weapons as they had, the roster turnover, the most petulant striker in the league, the second most petulant striker in the league, the trading of Andy Iro, the curious case of Robbie Rogers would at one point late in the season be atop the East.
Most Disappointing Team
Jared DuBois: Pre: Colorado; Post: Colorado
This was the easiest pick of the season right here. Colorado’s MLS Cup run was the biggest stroke of luck since Charlie Bucket found that silver coin in the gutter. “Run for it Charlie. Run straight home and don’t stop till you get there!”
Matthew, TSG: Pre: New York; Post: New York
I thought it’d be the Red Bulls, but I didn’t think they’d be this bad.
C’mon. How can it not be the Red Bulls. Think of the stat today. The Red Bulls have won just once when Luke Rodgers has not played this year. They have Thierry Freaking Henry. Teemu Taino. They had Dwayne DeRosario; didn’t need him obviously.
The Red Bulls management is practically begging the Cosmos–or yes Curtis Martin and whoever else–to revise and shorten their debut timeline. It’s a lay-up.
Fan in Brooklyn: Choice A) Travel to New Jersey to watched a messed-up, over-priced team that appears to not care about winning or Choice B) Travel across one bridge, probably 20 minutes or more less and root for a team with some nostalgia in the heart of New York.
Honestly, Jerry, take the pen.
Jay Bell: Pre: Colorado; Post: Colorado-New York
To me, it has to be a tie (that’s right, I’m not calling it a draw) between Colorado and New York.
The Rapids looked like they were going to pull an RSL and be even better after a winning a championship. Injuries played their part, but the Rapids were supposed to go into the playoffs in a strong position. Going out with a whimper from the Champions League only makes matters worse.
The Red Bulls looked like one of the single most talented teams in the history of MLS for a couple of months, especially after the acquisition of De Rosario. Once his form dropped, Henry’s health dipped and international breaks stripped the team of many of its star players, it was downhill from there.
The good thing for both of these teams it they still have a chance to redeem themselves in the playoffs because of the 10-team field.
Jason Price: Pre: FC Dallas; Post: Toronto FC
Toronto fans deserve much better. That, to me, is the most disappointing situation in MLS. As for teams, it has to be the Red Bulls. With all that talent, the stadium, the money…
Team That Sizzles, Then Fizzles
Jay Bell: Pre: Columbus; Post: New York
The Red Bulls, again. Before the Gold Cup, they were up there as one of the three best teams in MLS with the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
Jason Price: Pre: Philadelphia; Post: Portland
Really had thought this would be the Union, but good for them – what a great year. I think this may be the Timbers, who really did have an excellent, excellent start without a mirroring finish.
New York’s is like the hottest girl you ever bagged at a bar that passes out on the cab ride home.
You watch with diminishing respect as she stumbles up the porch steps into the house and then proceeds to puke on herself. Looking at her, you remember that somewhere under all that filth is the super hot chick from just a few hours ago, but you no longer want anything to do with her sexually.
Matthew: Pre: Philadelphia; Post: Real Salt Lake
I really thought that Peter Nowak’s approach would get to the Union, but even with the Fish out of water, get this the Union swung their goal differential by almost 20 points this year. They survived Carlos Ruiz and the slump of Sebu Le Toux, the introduction of Freddy Adu and the injury of Mondragon.
For Sizzle-Fizzle, I’m going to have to go with Real Salt Lake. No team–remember “dynasty”–came into the season with more buzz. The Champion’s League loss seemed to be a haymaker to the jaw of Rio Tinto though and then there is the “Curse of the Retired #9 Jersey” — players have been injured, red cards in the box, Beckerman headbutts.
Still if any team can run the gauntlet more than another this preseason, it’s Jason Kreis’s men.
Jay Bell: Pre: Perry Kitchen, Tristan Bowen; Post: Nick Labrocca (huh, huh, he said Tristan Bowen)
The guy was having an average MLS career before this season, but he’s worn the #10 shirt well for a team that hasn’t been very good for much of the season. He became a leader on that team and its scary to think where they’d be without him.
Gotta give Mauro Rosales and Graham Zusi shoutouts here. Rosales looked like a great signing, but did anyone think he’d be this good? Sounders fans are salivating at the prospects of him and Zakuani on the field next season. And when is Zusi’s call-up coming Mr. Klinsmann?
Jason Price: Pre: Omphroy; Post: Brek Shea
After Brek Shea? Graham Zusi’s been a bit of a revelation, no?
Matthew: Pre: Eric Alexander; Post: JORGE PERLAZA!
I’m giving this one to Jorge “Megabus” Perlaza who somehow John Spencer found to be an afterthought during the critical part of the campaigns. The Timbers of course are now not in the playoffs.
Perlaza does the work of two forwards. He’s fast enough to test the backline, but he can hold the ball up as well. He is almost too unselfish for a striker, but he’ll take his chances when they are there.
This guy cannot get enough press. Seriously, you think Los Angeles could have used him this year? What about Houston?
Of course, he really sits somewhere in a group with Brek Shea, Graham Zusi and Dan Kennedy.
By the way, next year’s breakout players? Paolo Cardozo and Dilly Duka–mark it down now and tell your friends so you can say “I told you so.”
Jared: Pre: Andy Najar; Post: Graham Zusi
What didn’t Mauro break out of and into this season? A starting eleven, supple American boutique hair conditioners, offensive leaderboards, furry Cascadian hymens. The guy had the kind of season that every imported player coming to this league to make it for himself should dream of.Honorable mention to Graham Zusi’s equally impressive supple conditioning hair season as well.
Somewhere in Pasadena Paul Caligiuri is proud.
Jason: Pre: CJ Sapong; Post: CJ Sapong
I stand with my original Sapong prediction, but would also give a shout out to A.J. Soares, Rich Balchan, and Jalil Anibaba here who proved themselves as respectable and reliable MLS pros. I didn’t see many DC matches this year… What do people have to see regarding Perry Kitchen’s performance?
Jared: Pre: N/A; Post: CJ Sapong
You know the movie D.A.R.Y.L? I’m convinced that little white kid was the prototype for the laboratory that CJ Sapong was made in.
Jay Bell: Pre: Perry Kitchen; Post: CJ Sapong
I’m going with a defensive draw (yeah, I know) between A.J. Soares and Perry Kitchen. They played far more minutes than most rookies and were impact players on defense. Well, those two defenses sucked.
Ah screw it, Jason made a great pick in the preseason with C.J. Sapong. He played over 2,000 minutes and made a direct contribution on at least 10 goals for one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Matthew TSG: Pre: Will Bruin; Post: CJ Sapong
Had Will Bruin–who of course got sucked into the Black Hole that is the Houston Front Line. Has anyone come out of there alive. It’s almost like Brian Ching has immunity–although he keeps getting hurt as well.
CJ Sapong should be receiving cupcakes in the mail any day now. A target striker with the Twitter handle “Big Afrika?!” Love it. There’s another Kanye West song in there somewhere.
Jalil Anibaba was not far behind.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Sal Zizzo; Post: Dominic Oduro
The Sal Zizzo train never left the station in Portland. This should have you worried–those with multiple knee surgeries in the midfield always have a difficult time getting back. (Stu…Hol…shut your mouth.)
Picked Chance Myers on my MLS ballot. Probably should have went to Oduro
Jason: Pre: Charlie Davies; Post: Charlie Davies
CD9 for sure. Also would like to give some credit to Justin Mapp, who has become an important player for the Union and who very well could have simply slipped into obscurity. I was hoping that Chivas would pickup the wantaway Irving Garcia and that he would lead the Goats in goals. Note to SF Black Sox owner… find Irving.
Jay Bell: Pre: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado; Post: Dominic Oduro
I’m going with Dominic Oduro here for coming back from sports obscurity. Sure the guy has played a lot the last several years, but that was because coaches always had dreams about what he could be if he put it all together.
Well, now he has. I guess he’s not really coming back from anything other than disappointment, but he deserves a mention somewhere in here.
Jared: Pre: Kenny Cooper; Post: Juan Pablo Angel
Has a dude ever won this award for coming back from events within the same season? If not, I nominate JPA. Talk about a guy that was cast out as a pariah.
LA basically had to pay Chivas to take this guy off their hands mid season and all he did was shove it in there face by scoring 7 goals in 8 games. Compare that with only 3 goals in 22 for the Galaxy. Respect where respect is due, Man Stubble had a great comeback year.
Best Expansion Side
Jared: Pre: Cosmos; Post: Cosmos
I stand by my Cosmos pick. In the last calendar year the Cosmos have signed, Pele, Cobi Jones and Eric Cantona.
They have played against Manchester United and their Cosmos Copa saw the most Polish named dude ever score from half field.In other news.
Kenny Cooper plays for Portland.
Jason: Pre: Portland; Post: Portland: Interesting-disappointing to see that Jeremy Hall couldn’t find a place in Portland. A good opportunity for him. A talented player who may never really cement a place in the league.
Jay Bell: Pre: Portland; Post: Portland
This one felt like a sure thing from the beginning. Both franchises have been enthusiastic and have great fans, but Portland seemed more ambitious, on the field, from the beginning.
Cooper, Chara, Zizzo, Perkins, Wallace, Nagbe, etc. just seemed like a more talented team.
Though it was also smart signings like Perlaza, Alhassan, Futty, Brunner and definitely Jewsbury that helped give this team the chance to fight for the playoffs.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: New England, Post: Portland
I said New England in the pre-season, but it turned out to be Portland–who was also our surprise team.
Thought New England might’ve had some experience on them. Go figure. Good show Timbers.
Jason Price: Pre: Ike Opara; Post: Not sure
What happened to Ike O? I really thought he would dominate this year. Again, anyone want to talk about his form. Teal Bunbury needs a change of scene. And I suspect Tim Ream will bounce back just fine if he is in the league next year–though a move to Holland might be a good idea.
Jay Bell: Pre: Ike Opara; Post: Luis Gil
Jeez, Ike Opara made me look stupid with my “prediction.” Slim pickin’s anyway. I don’t want to go with Mwanga when he has less goals in more games and more minutes than last year. Bunbury had a dip, Najar was distracted and Agudelo struggled for playing time.
Maybe ………. Luis Gil ….. by default???
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Teal Bunbury; Post: Zach Loyd
After a training in Stoke and some serious chops on the national team, thought Teal would be surreal. Alas, he needed to work harder.
Solid and steady in their second year? That goes to Zach Loyd.
Jay Bell: Pre: Bobby Convey; Post: Omar Gonzalez
It has to be Omar Gonzalez, right? John was stellar before his Blackburn transfer fell apart. Ream is the one with all of the attention, but he is definitely not where some want him to be. If Cameron would commit to being a CB, he’d be among the league’s best as well. Give Borchers some respect for holding down the RSL defense during some injuries when they were slumping. Carlos Valdes and Drew Moor have been consistently good all season.
Gonzalez’s main competition should be from the guy who has marshaled (ha, see what I did there?) the defense for the Columbus Crew. He made journeyman Julius James look like a better defender at times.
By the way, check out the fouls committed by these guys: James – 53, Marshall – 19, Borchers – 13, Ream – 10, Valdes – 37, Moor – 22, John – 24, Gonzalez – 16. I’m just putting that out there.
Jared Dubois: Pre: Sean Franklin; Post: Omar Gonzalez
I’ll go with Gonzalez, then Marshall and then Valdes.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Zach Loyd, Sean Franklin; Post: Carlos Valdes
I’ll go with Valdes first here. 36 goals against for the Union, Jordan Harvey shipped out, not always the most efficient or effective midfield, about 3 shots on goal that Old Man Mondragon had to stop.
Boy, good thing that Michael Orozco guy changed his name and only plays for the US National Team now.
Jason Price: Pre: Kevin Hartmann; Post: Kasey Keller
The only downside to Brad Friedel’s enduring form and remarkable legacy is that it may overshadow, a bit, in terms of the history of American goalkeeping, the place/role of Kasey Keller – the first American to really prove hiimself overseas. There really is only one Kasey Keller.
Jared DuBois: Pre: Sean Johnson; Post: Any dude in Los Angeles
Any tall dude in the greater Los Angeles area. Face facts, both Josh Saunders (.93 GAA) and Donovan Ricketts (.60 GAA) are the only starting keepers in the league to average under 1 Goal given up per game. Then pair that with with a supporters shield and the fact that one is technically a “back up”, and you have your joint Best Keeper of the Year winners.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Sean Johnson; Post: Keller
P Diddy stumbled before Frank Klopas took over. Josh Saunders proved that last year’s pick of Donovan Ricketts was ridiculous. Dan Kennedy was tremendous for Chivas, but I’ll echo Jason, 110 saves for Kasey Keller on second place Seattle?
Done. Goes to The Mullet.
Jay Bell: Nick Rimando; Post: Kasey Keller
Whew, tough enough competition? And what was that about GK quality falling in MLS? Hartman, Rimando, Keller and Mondragon have all been superb this year. All three of them have a goals-against average of 1.09 or 1.06. Keller has the most saves and is tied with Hartman on games and minutes.
I’ll give the nod to Keller.
Jason: Pre: Santino Quaranta; Post: Joel Lindpere
Poor Santino. I had imagined quite the season for him… In this category, see Joel Lindpere. Metros fans rate players
after each game at http://www.metrofanatic.com – it’s a remarkably accurate evaluation of the squad’s performance. With a 6.7, Lindpere has the highest ranking off all players. He also leads the team with 2958 min (as of the writing of this piece) with 7 goals & 7 assists and only 4 yellows. Remarkable for a two-way player on a struggling squad. Also would like to point out that Sharlie Joseph had, yet again, somehow, a respectable season.
Matthew, TSG: Brad Davis; Post: Geoff Cameron, Heath Pearce
Brad Davis finally got his accolades this year–of course TSG had to be the one to crank up the
hype machine. It’s not really a hype machine if the player is undervalued, right? Let’s call it a Make Right Machine.
Some names crossing our consideration: Jeff Parke, Juninho, Andres Mendoza (has a top goal scorer ever received less press?), Josh Wolff (still valuable amazingly)….but Heath Pearce stepped into central defense minus Jimmy Conrad who was suppose to be the leader and–when healthy–steadied it. After years on the left flank being almost good enough, Pearce, if he keeps his head about him, has a new life in the middle.
His sidekick on Team Kaiser Permanent should be Geoff Cameron who basically screwed around in the Houston midfield for three quarters of the season at near All-Star status before he was moved back to his appropriate centerback position.
Cameron should be starting for the USMNT at centerback come the 2nd go-around of World Cup qualifying…unless Michael Bradley’s been moved there (half-kidding.)
Jared DuBois: Pre: Osvaldo Alsonso; Post: Jack Jewsbury
Jack Jewsbury. The guy should hold his head up high after Portland’s inaugural season as the backbone of a young team. Jewsbury is a true Captain that shows night in and night out what is expected from every player on his squad by embodying it himself. Great pick up by Spencer as well.
Jay Bell: Pre: Michael Harrington; Post: Camilo
Hmmm, I was going to say Brad Davis, but I think people are understanding his quality contributions now. Then I was thinking Chad Marshall, but he should be a top 5 candidate for MLS Defender of the Year.
So I will go with Camilo with Vancouver. Hassli is known as the the temperamental goal scorer and Chumiento is the playmaker. Well, Camilo has two more goals than Hassli and yeah it came in a lot more games, but it does help to actually stay ON THE FIELD. He’s added three assists as well.
There is a reason that there were reports of a team or teams submitting bids for him back in the summer. There is also a pretty good reason Vancouver kept him too.
Jason: Pre: Sean Franklin; Post: Rafa Marquez
Well the Sean Franklin thing was a rub. This is a difficult one… If you do this by salary it’s got to be Rafa.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Donovan Ricketts; Post: Omar Cummings
Asked on Twitter today the following.
Rafa Marquez is the easy answer, so how about we plug our Golden Boot prediction in there? Omar Cummings, what happened?
Jay Bell: Pre: The Rapids’s CBs; Post: Jeff Larentowicz
The only person I can even kind of think of, since it is at the end of the season, is Jeff Larentowicz. If Larentowicz is seen as being good enough to get a call-up over some of the US’s other CM candidates, then he is overrated.
Jared Dubois: Pre: Julian DeGuzman; Post: Rafa Marquez
Rafa “Mother Flunkin’” Marquez.
Jason Price: Pre: Alain Rochat; Post: Mauro Rosales
Mauro Rosales numbers are really excellent, but Luke Rodgers, when healthy, seems to have been the key to the NYRB attack.
Jason Price: Pre: Teemu Taino; Post: Mauro Rosales
Someone nominated LIVESTRONG Park in the preseason, so I will go with the Timbers Army. Their support as a crowd and a community has been amazing. They’ve produced some of the best Tifo in MLS history also.
On the field, Mauro Rosales has been damn good. They played a lot less, but Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans also deserve recognition for their part in salvaging something out of the train wreck of a season up in Toronto.
Matthew, TSG: Pre: Fabian Castillo; Post: Mauro Rosales
Not quite for Castillo, though it may have been a different story if next year’s Comeback Player of the Year, David Ferreira was in the mix.
Many great newcomers–and that might be the most positive underlying story of MLS this season. Such quality with folks like Eric Hassli….
I said Eric Hassli.
Oh Goodness Hassli
….Faryd Mondragon, Danny Koevermans (who had one goal every two games and played solid hold-up), the aforementioned Perlaza, Luke Rodgers. A great story for MLS.
But the winner–in a walk–Mauro Rosales who may yet take Seattle to the long-awaited promised land.