Whew…that took longer than expected.
Last year, a group of so-called TSG “experts” converged on Las Vegas (“got together online”) and dropped science on the 2011 MLS season that not even the father of a toddler wouldn’t cringe at.
Juan Pablo Angel for the Golden Boot (JRodius). Ouch.
Eric Alexander, breakout player (yours truly). Ouch.
And oh-so-many more.
We thought, since we enlightened everyone so much in 2011, why not do it again in 2012?! And we’ve added a crew member.
So….we’re back and we hope to better than those guys in the pic up top with our sequel; frankly can’t be much worse.
A brief re-introduction.
There’s Matt Biggerstaff. Ticketing ace by day, soccer player by evening, and electronica fan of 18+ shows (he’s in his mid-20’s) by late night. A devout San Jose fan, Biggerstaff has a bigger chip on his shoulder for Seattle than Timber Jim.
Jay Bell. Now considered the voice of reason around the TSG Hall of Justice. The experienced midwest reporter comes armed with an unfailing breath of positivity for all things MLS–heck he even thinks Eddie Johnson was a great pick-up by Seattle!
Jason Price. Life-long MLS follower, once an assistant with the Malawian national team (true), once a leading scorer in the Malawian second division (true, also!).
Dan. Free. Beer. You probably know him. If you don’t, Dan is to beer and soccer what Kim Kardashian and Pamela Anderson are to sex tapes. That didn’t sound good. Sorry Dan, roll with it. Dan, creator of the very cool Free Beer Movement.
Up next JRodius, Jared DuBois. Rodius has a son named….”Kobe Bryant,” a love for the Muppet Babies and an insatiable desire to see the Los Angeles Galaxy steamroll the competition. Jared waxes poetic each week on The Best Soccer Show…that’s self-titled of course.
And pulling up the rear, yours truly.
Let’s go…the season is about to start!
Jay Bell: Mauro Rosales. Foreign players often fare better after at least one season in the league. Rosales was good enough last year to be an MVP candidate. He’ll also get extra votes if he happens to make Eddie Johnson look good.
Price: Thierry Henry. In part, because this usually falls to a striker, yet this is far from a sure thing. Apart from developing a decent strike partnership with Kenny Cooper, there is the issue of service. Neither Marquez, Tainio, McCarty,or Palsson are playmaking central midfielders. That being said, there is no one in the league with more class and, if he stays reasonably healthy, he wins the golden boot.
JRodius: Freddy Montero. If he can put Seattle in the shield race carrying a 200-lbs grown ass black man on his back, he deserves it.
Dan, FBM: Castrol Motor Oil or League?
Biggerstaff: Wondolowski. Here’s a thought, he actually has a midfield–finally–that I am not convinced I could start in this year for the first time, San Jose (Wondo) goes crazy scoring goals, he wins the golden boot and they make the playoffs.
TSG: Mauro Rosales: The thunder of this pick stolen by it being the selection of the so-called expert above.
Rosales would have challenged Brad Davis for our MVP selection last year had he not gotten injured. In short, no player in MLS has the range of game of Rosales. While he and Landon are cut from the same cloth, Rosales shows a bigger willingness to channel the game through then Landon who rightfully demurs with the weapons around him.
Rosales’s game is specifically geared to MLS and to playing on the Seattle rug….and he’s going to dance the carpet to the MVP.
Jay Bell: Real Salt Lake. Sometimes you might give the edge to a team that didn’t qualify for the Champions League. However, LA, Seattle and RSL all look head and shoulders better than the rest of the league. I’d make Vancouver a surprise pick if the Whitecaps were in the Eastern Conference. The CCL burden was lessened this year and LA will have a lot of international call-ups, so the advantage goes to RSL.
Price: Seattle Sounders FC. Sigi has assembled an excellent side here with an excellent mix of North and South American and European talent, many in the prime of their career, with an extraordinary supportive fan base who should be rewarded. Against Santos Laguna, SSFC trotted out Rosales, Alonso, Evans and Fernandez in the midfield with This is an astonishingly well-balanced midfield with a great mix of heart, ingenuity, grit, and measure. The big question will be at striker where much of the onus will fall on Montero, who is missing a tested strike partner and a marble or two.
Dan, FBM: Los Angeles Galaxy. Yeah… Yeah they’re stacked and it’s the obvious pick, but is anyone going to argue?
TSG: Sporting KC. They’ve got an incredible home field advantage, enough offense weapons, a weak conference and they don’t have to integrate as many parts as other conference foes. The war of attrition in the West along with CONCACAF Champion’s League play has our Supporter Shield brandished in the East.
JRodius: Sporting KC. Picking LA is like taking home the drunk fatty from the bar, it’s just too easy of a way to rack up a score. I’m going to pick KC. The East is weaker than a domestic pilsner. Points aplenty…
Biggerstaff: Los Angeles Galaxy runs far far far away with their weeknight half-capacity stadium with this one.
Most Improved Player
Biggerstaff: Ryan Johnson. Not like Ryan Johnson could be worse, and he showed some flashes for Toronto FC, so lets give him the nod.
Dan, FBM: Danny Mwanga. He’s got to get more reps and more goals now that LeToux is gone. Right? Right?!
JRodius: Benny Feilhaber. This may seem odd given what we know about Benny, however, in 2011 he didn’t show who he really is. With Simms doing the dirty work in midfield and Rowe stretching the field Benny will have room to work.
TSG: Steve Beitashour. The San Jose wingback will blossom in the absence of Bobby Convey and from the ability of San Jose to play more possession ball this year.
Jay Bell: Ike Opara. Last year the guy made me look really bad when I picked him to be the best second-year player. Now he looks to have his sh*t together and could realize a lot of that potential.
Price: Ryan Johnson. The Dutch system will benefit him and he’ll have his looks at goal.
Most Overrated Player
Price: Rafa Marquez. Not Sean Franklin, most certainly Rafa Marquez.
Jay Bell: Rafa Marquez. I don’t care if he gets cut by the Red Bulls or gets sold to a Mexican team in the summer, he’ll still be overrated and vastly overpaid.
Biggerstaff: Freddy Montero. He just doesn’t do it for me. Even when he scores, it doesn’t seem like he is doing much to help the team. Doesn’t do enough with his talent.
JRodius: Jose Afolfo Valencia. This dude is so overrated I bet he doesn’t score a goal all year…
Dan, FBM: Eddie Johnson…the “GAM,” not the Timber’s man.
TSG: Kevin Alston. Taking a break from Donovan Ricketts winning it five years running. At some point you are what you are….potential unrealized.
Jay Bell: Nick Rimando. He and the RSL defense will be at full strength this season. Honorable mention to Kevin Hartman and Jimmy Nielsen.
Price: Nick Rimando. This will be an interesting year in terms of goalkeepers. Lots of new and old faces getting serious opportunities–McMath, Meara, Gspurning, Saunders, etc. Nick Rimando is the easy choice though, and probably the best one.
JRodius: Red Bull Arena Anything that can stop Kenny Cooper’s shots from regularly hitting the parking lot deserves the award.
TSG: Dan Kennedy. One day the MLS fan community will wake up and realize that Chivas USA is not a farm club for Chivas Guadalaraja–okay, that won’t happen–but they will realize that, toiling in the shadow cast by the Galaxy, is an unflappable and steady keeper who commands his box on the “other team” that plays in Carson, CA. An honorable mention to Tally Ho!…I mean Hall.
Dan, FBM: Bill Hamid. The future is now.
JRodius: Apollo Creed. Dude died fighting a Russian in Stars and Stripes short shorts… Best American EVER!
Price: Landon Donovan. As long as he stays in the league, this award will always go to Landon Donovan.
Dan, FBM: Geoff Cameron. This important for our national team.
Biggerstaff: Eddie Johnson. Hahahaha. Brek Shea will go off again, likely leave during the summer transfer window for a top 8 club in the EPL.
Jay Bell: Benny Feilhaber. “No Air” Benny is going to dare Juergen Klinsmann to continue to keep him out of the national team setup.
TSG: Alexi “Lawless.” Want to know how you start a fight? Drop by The Hangar in Manhattan Beach, CA and claim that Wayne Rooney is a better goal scorer then Edson Buddle. Watch Lalas go honey-badger on your a*s.
Jay Bell: Mauro Rosales.
Biggerstaff: Jamison Olave will lead the best defense in the MLS and will consistently shine. For like the third year in a row?
Dan, FBM: Javier Morales. Welcome back to the top.
Price: The Rooster (Brek Shea) qualifies as ‘foreigner’, no?
JRodius: Sinisa Ubiparipovic – Dude has a last name with six vowels, six syllables, ending in a “C”… You win Europe!
TSG: Hans Backe….
wait for it
Ha ha ha ha, he, he, he. Can I go with Beckham here or does his relationship with Tom Cruise and US Weekly preclude this?
Best Central American player with the first initial “M”
Jay Bell: Marco Pappa. The team improved around him last year. With an improved supporting cast, he could set afire to MLS opponents.
Dan, FBM: Mr. Andy Najar (see what I did there?)
JRodius: Marvin Chavez. New Team, New expectations, Same great height. This dude could be the key to unlocking Wondo’s second Golden Boot.
Price: This required some research. The funny thing about the drop down menu on the team tab on the players page at the MLS website is that it still includes the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Squarely odd. Anyhow, I’ve done my homework; while I’m “on with the Marvins,” it’s still got to be big Pappa,
TSG: Marco Pappa. Never. NEVER go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ah, ha, ha, ha!. Wait I think I missed the question.
The Jorge Perlaza Award — Mr. Effort-Best Motor-Megabus-Award
TSG: Landon Donovan. You see what I did here. By inaugurating this award under Perlaza, I’ve got these suckers after me comparing some of the best players to him and thus increasing his brand equity. Master P owes me 5%! So. To continue the trend. Landon Donovan.
Jay Bell: Osvaldo Alonso. I had to mention him somewhere. His drive and skill in the midfield could drive Seattle to unprecedented success.
Biggerstaff: Kyle Beckerman seems to be everywhere on the field, all the time. Maybe it his hair that is reaching out and knocking balls away to teammates but whatever it is, he clogs the whole, and makes you wonder why his mother never said no to dreads.
Dan FBM: Kyle Beckerman… Midfield Man is going to be working so hard he’ll have no time to wash his hair.
JRodius: Luke Rodgers. Like all dudes that seemingly get stuck at the border, he would come to this country and work harder than anyone else.
Price: Darren Mattocks: I have no idea about his workrate, but if what people are saying is true then perhaps Darren Mattocks.
Worst haircut to best player ratio
TSG: Geoff Cameron. Okay, hmm, let’s see.
Who is the Bizarro Robbie Rogers? That’s got to be Brek Shea, right? Actually, let’s go with the bland pick.
Corporal The General Geoff Cameron. Flattops for white guys is a big, “FU” challenge to David Luiz for the right to be called the best “attacking central defender” on the globe.
Jay Bell: Wilman Conde, if he can get healthy.
JRodius: Not sure who yet, but this will certainly be a Timbers player… Maybe Chabala’s Rushmore cut. But dude is kinda pulling it off.
Biggerstaff: Juan Agudelo. I don’t know if this will hold up into the MLS season, but Agudelo’s ‘Fro it, bleach it, Neymar it’ is the dirtiest thing I have seen in a long time. He makes Brek Shea’s dead animal cut look goooooooooood.
Price: Nick LaBrocca. Is it me, or is there a disturbing likeness in the hairline of Nick LaBrocca and Joleon Lescott?
The “I should’ve been a DP” award
Jay Bell: Joel Lindpere. New York’s talisman will vastly outshine Marquez yet again, proving that $6 million more per year does not make someone a better player.
Biggerstaff: Javi Morales, who I am least 51% convinced is not a DP and am at least 51% convinced should be a DP. RSL will do some work this year in all competitions.
JRodius: Edson Buddle – by the end of the season he will look a steal at $200k.
Price: This is the Joel Lindpere story.
Taylor Twellman? So last decade. Andrew Wenger. 1st draft pick. Duke education. Montreal strip joints? Wait, son, you ARE a designated player. Big, big, big Impact.
This year’s Nick LaBrocca
JRodius: Justin Mapp–dude’s hair is going fast.
Price: If you mean best Rutgers’ alum, then Dilly Duka.
Jay Bell: Davy Arnaud. I’m calling him “This year’s Jack Jewsbury” too. With so many young guns flying around, I think the veteran will be a leader on the field and on the stat sheet.
TSG: Well it should have been Chris Birchall, but it’s not. So Bobby Convery. NOT! I really like the acquisition of Macoumba Kanji by the Dynamo.
Jay Bell: Davide Chiumiento. He was fifth in the league last year with nine. Vancouver has improved in the attack and Chiumiento will be key in spreading the wealth.
JRodius: David Beckham Best wingman for a dude looking to score since Pauly met Vinny. You ever seen Landon fist pump?
Biggerstaff: Landon Donovan. Galaxy’s front line got better, which means Landon Donovan will run rampage not scoring but setting other people up like it ain’t no thang.
TSG: Graham Zusi. The consistency of the Sporting KC frontline is tenuous at best, but with Zusi being ably protected by Espinosa and Nagamura, he’ll get forward more. The pinpoint-pass-pinger will be taking the set pieces and crosses and he’s got both CJ Sapong and “Aerial” Collin to finish in the skies. Awarded.
Price: Mauro Rosales runs riot.
Jay Bell: Danny Koevermans. The Dutchman helped to provide some hope last season to a fan base that has been beaten down over the years.
JRodius: Kris Boyd. A huge risk here, but dude has pedigree and can definitely threaten for this if he finishes even half of Cooper’s chances from last year.
Price: A DeRo, Henry and Montero draw at 17 a piece.
TSG: Dominic Oduro puts it together like Wondo did in 2010 and narrowly edges Kris Boyd for the title. Rock beats scissors; Fire best Timbers.
Dan, FBM: Wondolowski. Where’s Wondo? Seriously. This guy needs more props.
Best short player: Nominee (Gil, Duka, Mendoza, Dax, Plato, more)
Biggerstaff: Luis Gil is going to have a breakout year, so is Plata. Both of them are a lot of fun to watch, that is if you don’t look too high and completely miss them.
Dan, FBM: Nick Rimando. Haven’t seen a little guy work so hard since those Oompa Loompas had to roll away Veruca Salt.
Jay Bell: Dax McCarty had a really down season last year. If the guy is as good as I think he is-was, he should bounce back.
JRodius: Nick Rimando. Short man in a big man’s world. And he kills it year after year.
Price: Connor Lade. 5’5′ 140lb. Fierce.
TSG: Dilly Duka. Not enough to forget Guillermo Barros Schelotto, but he gets the ball rolling…just so long at Heinemann doesn’t step on him in the locker room.
Rafa Marquez Comic Relief Player
Price: You mean presuming Michael Ballack does arrives in the summer.
Jay Bell: Aurelien Collin, but in a good way.
Dan, FBM: Rafa Marquez…. “Not only is the trophy named after me, I’m a member as well.”
JRodius: Andrew Wenger. A dude with “Wang” in his name that goes both ways? Pure gold…
Biggerstaff: Osvaldo Alonso. His tremendous running around and hacking people then acting like nothing happened and he is astonished why he is getting a card is very “Rafaesqe.”
Biggerstaff: Toronto FC makes the playoffs. Let’s get crazy.
Dan, FBM: New England Revolution will win the Eastern Conference and force Kraft’s hand and wallet to give a damn about this team.
Jay Bell: Eddie Johnson scores 8 goals and assists on five more to make the All-Star team…..
JRodius: There actually is a bike in the basement of The Alamo.
TSG: Landon Donovan isn’t going bald. The Californian’s been carefully shaving and sculpting his hairline for years to deceive the opposition into thinking he’s lost a step. Landyman visits Wayne Rooney Rugland over the All-Star break and comes out of the Bald Club for Men closet after the break, reducing his “Forty” time by 30 seconds.
Price: A furious bidding war for Ike Opara ensues after a stellar Olympic games.
MLS Cup Winner
Real Salt Lake. This group has been together for several years now. They need to make their move this season. The development and depth of players like Gil, Schuler, Yordany Alvarez and Paulo Jr. could help get this team over the hump.
JRodius: Los Angeles. So sue me… I like fat chicks. (see: Supporters Shield, Rodius, J.)
Biggerstaff: The Los Angeles Galaxy does it again. Then Donovan finally leaves for Everton and all these dumbasses trying to compare/contrast he and Clint can have real EPL data to add to their annoying arguments.
TSG: Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo are downright giddy about a stadium. They’ve got a cohesive and seasoned backline that will be able to stymie anyone with the underrated Adam Moffat providing cover. So long as the Dynamo hold on to Cameron, get a healthy Brad Davis and add one more attacker, they’ll blaze the victory trail.
Price: The Los Angeles Galaxy get some vindication after losing the race for the Supporters’ Shield on the final day of the season.
Dan, FBM: Upset! Sporting KC.
Enjoy the season!