…and we forge on….without your consent or approval. (Part I here if you missed it.)
* The Mike Magee It’s Not HGH; it’s Landon’s Sabbatical Surprise Goal Scorer 2014 award?
Zack: Can I still pick Mike Magee for this? I look around that Chicago team and I’m not sure where else the goals will come from. I expect another big start to the season for him, especially with that potential, if unlikely, World Cup spot up for grabs.
Parchy: SURPRISE! You might’ve thought FC Dallas found Tesho Akindele in the Mines of Moria, and you’d be right. He’s an Oredigger, and he only escaped the mighty Balrog of the Misty Mountains via his wits and a pretty handy left foot. But, his entrance to the league delayed by a nasty case of dwarvish gout, it’ll be Alan Gordon. PLOT TWIST!
Nutmeg: You might think I’d say someone like Eddie Johnson, because anyone scoring goals in DC would be a shock to the senses. I think we’re all well aware that Ben Olsen is probably going to ride GAM until the wheels fall off, but I still don’t think that Eddie Johnson scoring goals is that surprising. The surprisingly still under-30 Kenny Cooper putting up Red Bulls numbers again, however, would be. Prepare.
Matthew: Urruti Tutti Fresh N’ Fruity. Can you imagine Timbs’ opponents this year. Valeri? ✓. Gaga Fernandez? ✓. Nagbe? ✓ “Damn, where did Valeri go?” “Wait who’s the young rattail kid sneaking in on goal all alone.” 12 to 15. Book it.
Biggy: Assuming Eddie Johnson is off to the World Cup, and that is a mighty large assumption, it will be Conor Doyle. He’s got a lot of potential, and with the offseason to actually get to know some of his teammates, he could be the breakout star of 2014. In fact, I’m going to go pick him up in fantasy right now.
Never gets old
* Seattle’s pitch in 2014 will…. get better? get worse? burst into flames? cave into a sinkhole? or other?
Zack: Somehow be triumphantly proclaimed “the loudest pitch in the league” in another MLS Cup-less season by Sounders fans and media.
Nutmeg: I’d like to allow Richard Sherman to answer this question for me since he feels the same way about Michael Crabtree as I do about Seattle’s pitch.
Matthew: …will do this:
Don’t laugh…that happened in Tacoma. Something about the Washington … air.
Parchy: This question should’ve somehow been melded with the Merritt Paulson tweet one. Can we give Merritt a dedicated Twitter account entitled “Does Seattle’s Field Have Football Lines Today?” Even when it doesn’t, every day is a “Yes.” To answer your question, orange.
* Player most likely to enjoy “the air” when in Seattle or Colorado?
Nutmeg: Thierry Henry isn’t a fan of the “grass” in Seattle, but at some point, if he decides to travel, he’ll need something to do with his free time. And they say “the air” helps with phantom ailments.
Biggy: Jermaine Defoe. Hands down. Most of the time when he’s on the field he lounges around like he is high anyway. We will see if that carries over.
Jay Bell: David Texeira. He’s going to have some family members visit and they’re going to want to recreate the atmosphere back home and…
Parchy: Not only is this Eddie Johnson, but he’ll print out flyers for the occasion. Too soon?
Matthew: Federico Higuain. Fed up with the lack of game planning around him, having to constantly battle triple teams, getting no respect from refs and MLS media, Higuain will finally say, “F*ck it!” and chill out on the Seattle carpet. It may not be a charging Gspurning, but he’ll still chip the keeper for a goal on Pioneer Square too.
Zack: How can this answer not be Kyle Beckerman? Allow me to direct you here…
* The 2014 “I Should Have Been A DP Award” goes to….
Federico Higuaín, who as far as my limited googling skills can tell me is not currently one. He’s going to score a lot of goals this year, so that the scoreboard isn’t the only thing on fire in Columbus.
Parchy: My Ozzie Drum! Anyway, Graham Zusi is not a DP. This shocks me to no end. Meanwhile, Kris Boyd.
Matthew: I don’t want to live in a world where Will Johnson isn’t a DP. That said, this award goes to the “I Should Have Been” which is exactly what Luis Silva will be gunning for after force-feeding Eddie Johnson his goals this year.
Nutmeg: Eddie Johnson, of course. EJ is going to score more than three goals this season. In DC, that is prolific.
Jay Bell: Eddie Johnson. And he’ll be oh so subtle about saying it too. I’m guessing a T-shirt under his jersey that says “I Should Have Been A DP” or “WHY NEVER ME?” with dollar signs on it.
Zack: Matt Besler. It’s not a tremendously sexy pick, but this is a case of the conditional statement – “if Omar gets paid, then Matt must get paid, too.” He is absolutely instrumental to his team’s success.
* Worst haircut-to-best player ratio
Nutmeg: Sebastian Velasquez wins this award forever, regardless of how he plays. Also, welcome to MLS, Bofo!
Biggy: Sebastian Velazquez on pure grossness, Nick DeLeon on diversity. When he bleaches it blonde, he wins hands down though.
Matthew: Velasquez is a layup. I give you Tommy McNamara … for Chivas USA by way of Clemson University, Brown and of course…. New Jersey! Actually he’s out of Don Bosco Prep–a high school I nearly attended. So props you McNamara. Kinchley’s Pizza in the house! (<– So good the Yankees used to freeze it and send it in aquarium styrofoam boxes to spring training–true.)
Zack: DeAndre Yedlin. He happens to be very good, but it wouldn’t even matter if he was warming the bench – the hair is that awful.
Parchy: It’s Yedlin. It’s always going to be Yedlin. His hair style changes so much that he tops the HAIRCUT CASTROL INDEX due to his supreme versatility. He can be a good player with a horrible mohawk, a good player with a horrible floptop, a good player with a horrible zig-zag thing or a good player with one of the Pointer Sisters sitting on his head. It’s no contest.
* Who is your 2014 ROY?
Jay Bell: Harrison Shipp.
Nutmeg: Schillo Tshuma If only Benji Joya was a rookie.
But due to playing with Santos Laguna, nope. And it’s hard not to root for Andre Lewis after *collapses on the floor laughing*.
This first thing you have to do to win RoY is play, which is a major obstacle for homegrowns and fresh out of college folks.
But, two kids who impressed me in college who I think could do some damage (with caveats): 1) Out of IU, San Jose’s homegrown Tommy Thompson might be able to offer a nice little person counter to SJ’s traditional large-person-centric attack; 2) If he can squeeze in some time behind Portland’s attacking core, I think Schillo Tshuma can impress. I watched him a bit at Maryland and the kid is exciting on the ball.
Zack: Andre Lewis. I think all signs point to this guy having the tools to rack up both goals and assists in this league – and to also have a great deal of opportunities to get his feet wet this year. JJ Koval could have a big impact on a Quakes midfield that has figured out that it needs a steady two-way presence and Schillo Tshuma in Portland looks promising as well – but neither will impact their teams’ fortunes the way Lewis will.
Parchy: Will Andre Blake even start? I don’t know. Tshuma had a poor sophomore year at Maryland, but putting him in Portland’s system could make him Alhassan 2.0. Also, McNamara’s mullet wins RHOY. That said, I’m going to go with D.C.’s Steve Birnbaum. The most MLS-ready player in the draft, and he’ll have a chance for serious minutes with a decent midfield in front of him.
Biggy: Does Benji Joya count? He’s new. I’m so sad that San Jose got in the lottery for a 15th forward instead of waiting for Joya. Joya has some real skills, and should see a lot of playing time in Chicago.
Matthew: Freddy Adu. MLS, Nike, Peter Nowak, Richard Motzkin & Twitter will find a way. However, if this loses on a technicality, I’ll go with a long shot. Mark Sherrod for the Dynamo. He’s like the MLS Nick Van Exel.
(And don’t sleep on J.J. Koval for the Quakes if one of the Quakes other four midfielders goes down.)
* Who wins the 2014 Dema Kovalenko Most Annoying Player Award?
Parchy: Robbie Keane may be a very nice person off the field. But watching him play, I want to punt random living objects into a never-ending lake of fire.
Biggy: Steve Zakuani, because I’m still annoyed by those MLSsoccer dot com video commercials that I had to see at least 5 times each time I tried to watch some highlights. I might even be permanently bitter at those. His rap wasn’t even that good either, get back in the studio dude.
Jay Bell: Steven Lenhart. It’s going to be re-named the “Steven Lenhart Award” at some point anyway.
Zack: Steven Lenhart. He may be effective at times and enthralling to watch, but he could not be more annoying on the field. Plays the game like NFL Blitz.
Nutmeg: Still Dema Kovalenko. There will never be another. He made annoying an art form. Steven Lenhart is the pirated version. Congratulations.
Matthew: Keane, Lenhart, Alonso…all worthy, extremely worthy. But Robbie Rogers–who the Crew faithful used to call “the unicorn”–is so infuriating. They should just call him “+1″ because anytime he’s got the open pass or shot, he takes that one more move to put him in Robbie Findley land. C’mon man!
* First coach to get fired?
Parchy: Sigi. Seattle stumbles out of the gate, the echoes awaken and he takes his horrifying scarf collection and gets the hell out of dodge.
Nutmeg: Wilmer Cabrera. I don’t like speculating on firings, but I can see a “moving in a different direction” speech in San Jose. Nevertheless, Wilmer Cabrera will either fire himself or be Coach of the Year.
Zack: John Hackworth. I think Philly will yet again struggle to get the wheels moving in the right direction. With questionable gameplanning—both on game-to-game and more longitudinal levels—I don’t expect “Hack” to make it through the year. …Then again, Nick Sakiewicz runs the team, so…
Matthew: Sigi Schmid–once Kenny Cooper starts mouthing pay-me to the highlighter home crowd it may spell trouble. If Sigi starts fast….. I don’t know how Frank Klopas got the job in Montreal, but I do know the Greeks and the Romans have a long history of fisticuffs. Klopas feels like a caretaker–until the right Sicilian comes down the pike.
Jay Bell: None of the above. Every coach was an MLS player like two years ago and their average tenure is about three and a half weeks. These guys will get an unprecedented level of protection this season.
* Who wins MLS Cup?
Zack: LA Galaxy. They’ve got all the pieces to make a run for the title again—and the acquisitions of Rob Friend and Samuel help them where they need it most. Expect the usual midsummer ennui to creep in before they hit form in the fall. Second or third in the West, but the ones hoisting the Cup when it’s all said and done.
Nutmeg: New York Red Bulls. Shhh. Stop it. Call me crazy, but the Red Bulls have to win it at some point. Now — before their best players turn 50 — is the time. I have a feeling that Henry will keep getting tattoos until it happens. Kind of like in Memento. Every morning he wakes up trying to piece together all of the bad things that have happened so that he can avenge past wrongs. This movie needs to end soon.
Biggy: New York Red Bulls. I think they will actually figure it out in the playoffs this year, and maybe make a big move post World Cup too. Plus, they finally won something, so who is going to bet against them winning it all? Oh, right, history. My bad!
Parchy: The Porter Porters. Portland also wins the Copa Libertadores, the 1987 Super Bowl and the sound of birds chirping. Don’t ask about the last one. It’s a long story.
Jay Bell: Portland Timbers. They’ll get an All-Star game boost like Kansas City and throw one hell of a party for MLS Cup.
Matthew: A new and improved Claudio Bieler. Another year of respect for Uri Rosell. Dom Dwyer here to stay…and play. Mikey Lopez going from everyone’s darling last year to Johnny-come-good this year in a super sub role. Sporting KC is set to repeat.
* The Will Johnson Award given to the player with the Best Motor in 2014 goes to…..?
Parchy: Freaking love watching Kyle Beckerman go. He may not always be spinning box to box, but he’s patient, knows when to pick his spots and his mind never stops churning. Have you ever seen Beckerman switch off in a game? If you have, you’ve also seen Donati’s Comet. WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE SINCE IT HASN’T APPEARED SINCE THE 19TH CENTURY JERK.
Zack: Jackson. It’s a tough question in a league with so many powerful, hard-working players in the midfield, but Jackson is a Corvette dressed up like a 1990s Chevy truck. An incredible work rate from box-to-box and a decent touch in the final third married with the ability to go into challenges “like a rock”…? Fuhgettaboutit. Enjoy him, Toronto.
Nutmeg: Ozzie Alonso. Why wouldn’t this award go to Will Johnson? Will he get mad if I give it to Ozzie Alonso?
Jay Bell: Marcelo Sarvas. Sarvas was 15th in the league in minutes played last season, 8th most in outfield players. His thankless contributions will be thanked a lot more this year.
Biggy: Sam Cronin. Dude was responsible for the entire middle of the park last year for San Jose while Baca essentially picked flowers like my younger brother did when he got forced to play soccer at age 3. They had about the same amount of impact on how the season went as well.
Matthew: DeAndre Yedlin. Kid brings skill and desire. He may read some plays wrong, but he doesn’t give up on trying to make a play. Got to love that.
* Who is the 2014 Goalkeeper of the Year?
Biggy: Jamie Pinedo for the LA for three reasons: 1) Hahahaha Carlo Cudicini was terrible. 2) Like so so so soooooo bad. I continue to laugh while I think about it. 3) Pinedo is quite good, which is the exact opposite of what Cudicini was last year, so if nothing else it will be the biggest year to year improvement.
Zack: Donovan Ricketts because his team won’t give up many goals; should be Clint Irwin though with the things he does on a regular basis to keep his team in games.
Jay Bell: Donovan Ricketts. It’s always Donovan Ricketts, no matter what.
Nutmeg: I’m waiting for the list of promising goalkeepers to transcend promise for an entire season. Until that point, it’s The People’s Goalkeeper, Nick Rimando.
Parchy: Can we get Mike Magee back in a keeper’s kit? No? OK. Nick Rimando. Because he was robbed in 2013 and you’ll all atone for your horrible mistakes in 2014. Rimando has never won an MLS Keeper of the Year award. And that’s stupid.
Matthew: Clint Irwin. In fact, my All-Honor Roll team defense–for guys that spend eons of time on film and technique–would pair Amobi Okugo and Matt Besler in central defense with Irwin backing.
* Your 2014 Outrageous Prediction?
Jay: New York City FC signs Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard for the 2015 season. I know it will devastate a lot of US Soccer fans to see the USMNT’s most exciting and marketable young star return stateside, but NYC FC knows it has to make a splash in its first year or risk losing momentum. Jozy’s got European dreams, but it will be hard to turn down a big money offer.
Zack: What, Gyasi Zardes as a breakout player wasn’t absurd enough? Fine… Russell Teibert will lead the league in assists up until the All-Star break.
Nutmeg: P. Diddy will buy Chivas USA, rebrand them as Ciroc Harlem West, and dance awkwardly in all of their goal celebrations. This will bother Suge Knight. They still won’t make the playoffs. Neither will Toronto.
Matthew: The Colorado Rapids get sold to an emerging Maple Syrup conglomerate while Stan Kroenke finagles Chivas USA for pennies on the dollar and promptly signs striker Thomas Vermaelen as their first designated player. You heard it here before Brian Straus.
Parchy: Caleb Porter ascends to the throne as King of the United States and, to begin his benevolent rule, institutes a rule whereby all Americans must pass a soccer ball to somebody no fewer than 46 times before arriving at work each day. This creates an enlightened society whereby disease and hunger are eliminated, somehow. The U.S. wins every World Cup from thenceforth until eternity.
Biggy: Zusi, Besler, Gonzalez, and Donovan all head to Europe after the World Cup is over. On vacation. Only Donovan comes back from vacation though. Geoff Cameron moves to a top 8 EPL side during the summer too. Mix Diskerud’s hair gets messed up once during 2014. Never again.
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