2017 MLS Predictions: Favourites emerge but all to play for in the middle of the pack

2017 MLS Predictions: Favourites emerge but all to play for in the middle of the pack

So what’s your thoughts on the season ahead? Let us know. We’ll list all our team’s individual choices below, but first, just a little bit of analysis of our final results.

All selections were made before the first round of matches this weekend, but it’s how teams do in the second half of the season that really matters anyway in this league, so we can’t read too much into the good or bad form we’ve seen so far.

What stands out in both Conferences is that it looks like there are two or three teams at the top that everyone is expecting to make the playoffs, and two or three at the bottom that no-one gives much of a chance to. But the fight in the middle of the pack for the last couple of playoff places could be immense, and a number of teams will fancy their chances of a postseason berth. There was certainly a lot of mixed opinions of who would fill those spots from our team.

There were a couple of clubs that produced a massive swing of opinion as to what lies in store for them this season. Colorado seemed to be the team to split opinions most in the West, with Columbus, DC, and Orlando doing that in the East.

On the flip side, all but one of our team (Joe) tipped FC Dallas to win the Western Conference title again. Only Dallas, Seattle, and LA received 100% backing to be in the playoffs come October. No-one tipped Minnesota, RSL, or San Jose to make the postseason, with the new boys and the Quakes hot favourites to be the basement dwellers.

In the Eastern Conference, Toronto garnered eight of the 11 votes to win the conference title. TFC and New York City FC were the only two sides to unanimously receive backing of being playoff teams, which either shows how wide open the East is this year or our team’s lack of knowledge of it! Every Eastern team had at least one person tipping them for the playoffs.

All but two of us predict that FC Dallas will be in the MLS Cup, with seven of us thinking they’re going to lift the trophy. Again, the East seems to be wide open in our opinion, although TFC are heavily favoured to head to back to back finals.

And can anyone stop Sebastian Giovinco becoming the league’s MVP? Maybe himself if he misses more penalties!

Anyway, here’s how the AFTN team saw the 2017 MLS regular season playing out:

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Authored by: Michael McColl

There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Anonymous at 10:25

    Victor Ulloa tied with Giovinco and Villa for Player of the year? Do you mean someone else on FC Dallas?

  2. Michael McColl Author at 10:37

    i’ll let Aaron answer that as he picked him!

  3. Michael McColl Author at 10:55

    Here’s the non positional selections of the team:

    AFTN TEAM’S MVP CHOICES:

    Giovinco – Chris, Drayton, Jacob, Jay, Joe, Michael, Nicolaas, Steve
    Lodeiro – Zach
    Ulloa – Aaron
    Villa – Tom

    AFTN’S GOLDEN BOOT CHOICES:

    Adi – Jay, Zach
    Giovinco – Aaron, Chris, Michael
    Montero – Steve
    Villa – Drayton, Jacob, Joe, Nicolaas
    Wright-Phillips – Tom

    AFTN TEAM’S SUPPORTERS SHIELD CHOICES:

    FC Dallas – Aaron, Chris, Jacob, Jay, Michael, Nicolaas
    New York City FC – Tom
    Toronto FC – Drayton, Joe, Steve, Zach

    AFTN TEAM’S MLS CUP WINNER CHOICES:

    Columbus Crew – Joe
    FC Dallas – Aaron, Chris, Drayton, Jay, Michael, Nicolaas, Zach
    LA Galaxy – Steve
    Toronto FC – Jacob
    Vancouver Whitecaps – Tom

    AFTN TEAM’S MLS CUP LOSING FINALIST CHOICES:

    Columbus – Aaron
    FC Dallas – Jacob, Joe
    New York City FC – Michael, Nicolaas, Steve, Zach
    Orlando City – Tom
    Toronto – Chris, Drayton, Jay

  4. Michael McColl Author at 10:57

    Jay also went to the time to add some comments about each team, so including these too:

    WESTERN CONFERENCE:

    1. FC Dallas – Strengthened where they needed it (a striker) and have the most complete squad in the entire league.

    2. LA Galaxy – Stacked in the midfield with plenty of creative and attacking options.

    3. Seattle Sounders – They’ll dip from their crazy end of season form, but Jordan Morris looks the be a legit 9, and with Lodeiro, Dempsey returning, Will Bruin as an option, they’ll still compete.

    4. Portland Timbers – Their front six may be the most dynamic and potent in the league, and a midfield trio of Chara, Nagbe, and Guzman could be the best in the league. They’ve got problems in defence. If they can remain even moderately cohesive in the back, they could challenge for the top of the standings, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them trying to outscore their issues. Will be fun to watch.

    5. Colorado Rapids – Stout defence and a bit of a rejigged midfield. Should be difficult to beat, meaning they’ll be in plenty of games.

    6. Vancouver Whitecaps – Montero fills the biggest need up top, and Williams seems to shore up the backline, but questions surrounding their midfield still remain. Once Reyna comes back healthy, and with the atmospheric rise of Alphonso Davies mean the team could also be a lot of fun to watch. If Waston and Laba return to 2015 form, the team could shoot even higher.

    7. Sporting KC – It doesn’t appear Sporting KC added enough to keep up with the clubs around them.

    8. Real Salt Lake – In a bit of a rebuild. Bit of a wildcard, could certainly challenge for a wildcard spot.

    9. Houston Dynamo – Another team in rebuild mode, but they have plenty of parts that are very interesting. If things come together, could also challenge for wildcard spots.

    10. San Jose Earthquakes – A team that had a difficult offseason. Could be a tough go for them this year.

    11. Minnesota United – Appears to be taking the Whitecaps 2011 pathway to the MLS – bringing in previous players who were successful in NASL. We know how that worked out. Expansion seasons are tough

    EASTERN CONFERENCE:

    1. Toronto FC – I hate to admit it, but they’re good.

    2. New York City FC – An addition of Moralez to their attack with the always dangerous Villa mean they’ll still be potent, and they added depth all over. Should still be good this season.

    3. Columbus Crew SC – I like their additions, although Higuain is not getting younger and is their only real creative midfielder. Still have a good striker, decent wingers, and have a beefed up midfield.
    4. DC United – Maintained what was a successful squad in offseason. They have quality young pieces that should continue to develop

    5. New York Red Bulls – Will miss Dax more than they would like to admit. Still a solid squad.

    6. Atlanta United – Splashing the cash with the big boys, but I’ll never be convinced an expansion side can truly challenge for the top of the table.

    7. New England Revolution – With Nguyen, Agudelo, and Kamara they have a reliable attack. Will their new defenders settle in? If so, they could challenge for the bottom end of the playoffs spots.

    8. Montreal Impact – Didn’t… really… do… anything. Mancosu still looks legit, but again, looks like teams could pass them by a bit this season.

    9. Chicago Fire – I think they’ll be better this season. In the limited parts I’ve seen of preseason, they looked cohesive and have a clever attack.

    10. Orlando City – I’m not sure what they’re doing in Orlando. Barnes doesn’t seem like the answer at all, and they traded one of their best players in Kevin Molino. Kaka is good, but man, he’s not getting younger.

    11. Philadelphia Union – Weren’t great last season, and also look a bit confused in their signings (a League 2 striker up top is not exactly a sure-fire bet.)

  5. Michael McColl Author at 10:58

    And Chris added a few extra predictions…

    CCL: Tigres vs. Dallas. Tigres wins.
    Cascadia Cup: Portland
    Voyageurs Cup: Vancouver

  6. Mattock at 14:51

    I presume.that photo of Seba with his finger in his breathing apparatus was not accidentally placed? It’s not fair but…..I don’t like TFC either – or players who whine every time they go down – justified or not, including all MLS players.

    I see that Houston will also be a counter-attacking team, kinda like the enthusiasm and pace of their attack. The Quakes also seemed geared for a better season and it kills me to say this, that Morris is a damn fine young player and Seattle will round into shape, especially with the strongly suggested DP coming this summer. 1st week – already getting into swing of things. Fun.

    Disappointing in the quantity and quality of the press reporting on the Caps – I’m speaking of the so-called mainstream press. I don’t discount, but neither do I give much weight to Perry – who appears to be a freelancer for the Caps or the coverage few minutes your spot on the networks, If TSN 1410 is going to rely on Carl, Paul, Mark and Carlo for their 5-6 minute coverage with Pratt etc…. not even going to bother with the lightweight banter – you think part of their job description is to sell the team. In the comfort of their own company with the pre and post-game shows will determine if they have an unbiased note to sing.

    In a strange way it seems to put pressure on you to stay on fairly good terms with the Caps – well, Robbo- so you can continue to have access, but I don’t believe the FO feel that the McColls, Berrisfords, Har,or the essentially non -critical FTBL etc really have a strong influence….you preach to the diehards who essentially are 90% hooked – positive, negative, in between – on the Caps. I really appreciate the effort of your team and those putting in time on the “fringe” covering our team.

  7. Aaron Campbell at 15:18

    Anonymous

    I pick Ulloa because I believe FCD will be best team in MLS by a wide margin and I see him having a breakout year at the DM role.

    He will be Laba times 300% this season.

    I know it’s a long shot but I went with my gut feeling.

    Plus fuck TFC and Giovinco!!!

  8. Michael McColl Author at 15:39

    Yeah I just really like that photo of Giovinco. Devalue his talent any way we can! haha What I’d give for someone like him or Valeri here.

    Interesting first weekend of results. Can’t read too much into anything, but a lot of the unfancied teams (Houston, San Jose, Orlando) got off to good starts and got points on the board early. Can they keep it up is the big question. Colorado did last year, but it’s hard to do.

    The mainstream press has just been so gutted here now that it’s making scrums painful at times. I think Perry is on a freelance deal with club, maybe a proper contract, but him and Farhan won’t really be allowed to ask much controversial or critical stuff.

    Last night’s postgame presser with Robbo was interesting. I was solely working on a Dean story and had to get out of there asap to get to the radio station for our show, but I asked a question, then Jim from the Province asked one, then no-one else did, so I asked another and handed mic back, expecting more from others. I didn’t want to hog the mic, but then no-one asked anything else and Robbo ended it. I had more to ask. Was told next time I need to hog it as no-one else will likely ask stuff! That’s a sad state of affairs.

    And like you say, the amount of people prepared to be critical or that have the soccer knowledge to be critical is dwindling. I have a good relationship with Robbo, but he knows and expects me to be critical. It’s hard on my MLS pieces as there’s a limit there, but here on AFTN, we’ll be super critical when it’s needed to be about the team, individual players, and the FO.

    As long as it’s fair criticism and accurate, and not just the world is falling when the team don’t score in one game, then I think the ‘Caps would and should expect that. If they don’t they’re delusional. Robbo does expect it and he respects my input and opinions because he knows I know the game and not into just sensational stuff that sells papers or gets clicks.

    We’ve joked I’ll be calling for his head if they get off to a poor start. Maybe, half joked!

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