So….about my preseason MLS predictions.
Yeah, after a quick review, they weren’t good.
But because I believe in accountability, self-flagellation and public humiliation, I thought it would be fun/aggravating to review what I wrote and note what actually happened.
Here is how the regular season finished in the East:
2. Atlanta United
5. D.C. United
6. New York Red Bulls
7. New England
Here’s what I wrote in a story published in early March:
Atlanta United (69 points last season): The reigning champs are the overwhelming favorite to repeat with a roster stacked with talents such as Josef Martinez, Pity Martinez, Ezequiel Barco, Julian Gressel, Hector Villalba, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Michael Parkhurst.
Here’s what happened: I was close on this one. I couldn’t predict that Ezequiel Barco would miss more games than he played, that the team would be without injured players for more than 120 games, and that Pity Martinez would fail to make a consistent impact.
New York Red Bulls (71): Replacing Tyler Adams is a huge challenge, but the Red Bulls went another direction by adding Danish striker Mathias Jorgensen to work with prolific striker Bradley Wright-Phillips. The defense is again anchored by Aaron Long, Tim Parker and Kemar Lawrence.
Here’s what happened: Wright-Phillips’ legs finally gave out. Jorgensen played in five games. Lawrence was hurt. Long wasn’t as good as last year. Parker, to me, remains overrated. It wasn’t good.
Philadelphia Union (50): No team in the East has done more to improve in the offseason. Losing Borek Dockal was huge, but the team may have upgraded with Mexican standout Marco Fabian.Working in a midfield that will include Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, the Union should be fun to watch. Of course, the strikers will need to consistently produce.
Here’s what happened: I got this one right! Turns out that Fabian added next to nothing, though. Kacper Przyzbylio did, with 15 goals and four assists.
D.C.United (51): They have striker Wayne Rooney. They have dynamic midfielder Luciano Acosta. They have newly signed winger Lucas Rodriguez. But they don't have a stopper on defense and they don't have depth. Should Rooney or Acosta suffer injury or need a break, the season could unravel.
Here’s what happened: I almost got this one right. Who would have predicted that Acosta would practically disappear after his transfer to PSG fell through and that Rooney would decide to leave at season’s end, with the team’s scoring seeming to decided that it wasn’t going to wait. They scored 42 goals, third-fewest in the East. Its seven wins at Audi Field were the fewest among playoff teams.
NYCFC (56): This prediction is also a gamble because this team was not only a tire fire the last third of last season under Dome Torrent, it also lost striker David Villa and midfielder Yangel Herrera in the offseason. It vastly overpaid for striker Alexandru Mitrita. What it does have is its ridiculous home field, which is good for playoff push.
Here's what happened: I got this one very wrong. Torrent did a fantastic job settling on two formations that the team used throughout the season. Mitrita scored 12 goals with three assists.
Columbus (51): And then there's Columbus, the metronome of MLS teams. It lost manager Gregg Berhalter but replaced him with Caleb Porter. That's about it, but the team has enough talent to finish in at least seventh.
Here’s what happened: Look away, I beg of you. Injuries didn’t help, but it’s a boring team.
Montreal (46): Let's see if Maxi Urruti can take the scoring load off Ignacio Piatti. If so, Montreal could challenge for final playoff spot.
Here’s what happened: Piatti barely played because of injuries. The team replaced one bad manager with one even worse.
BELOW THE PLAYOFF LINE
Toronto (36): How do you replace 68 goals with the loss of Sebastian Giovinco? Jozy Altidore needs a strike partner to be effective. Michael Bradley is not the same player he once was to the point that at times it looks like Toronto is playing with just 10 men.
Here's what happened: Got this one very wrong, too. Altidore found his scoring boots and Alejandro Pozuelo proved to be a difference-maker. The team added Omar Gonzalez to shore up a horrible defense and it was enough.
Orlando (28): A roster overhaul designed to improve play and chemistry was mercifully completed, but there still doesn't seem to be enough to move into a playoff spot. And adding Nani is a huge gamble in the locker room.
Here’s what happened: Yep, though it gives me no joy.
Chicago (32): Might be time to let this franchise go under and start anew somewhere closer to Chicago, which will hopefully inspire the fan base.
Here’s what happened: Hey, look at that?
Cincinnati (NA): They've spent money like madmen, sometimes doubling-up on the same positions in the back and midfield. Still no consistent goal-scorer.
Here’s what happened: They spent that money in all the wrong places, and finished as the worst team in MLS.
New England (41): It's a shame that this franchise isn't better.
Here’s what happened: Had they kept the overmatched Brad Friedel, I would have gotten this right. But the Krafts smartly fired him when the team had fewer points than every other team in MLS and replaced him with Bruce Arena. Who saw that coming?
Here is how the regular season finished in the West:
3. Real Salt Lake
5. L.A. Galaxy
8. San Jose
11. Sporting KC
Here’s what I wrote in a story published in early March:
LAFC (57): LAFC only need to look at Atlanta United to see what an expansion team can accomplish in its second season. The team hasn't added much, while losing the overrated Marco Urena and Benny Feilhaber.
Here’s what happened: Yeah, no sense in bragging about that because it was obvious.
Portland (54): The team is mostly intact after advancing to last year's MLS Cup. Sometimes, not doing much is exactly the right thing and the Timbers are making good decisions.
Here’s what happened: Turns out not making changes can sometimes not be a good decision. The team did eventually add talent but the goals never came with just 52 scored. It also didn’t take advantage of a back-ended home schedule with a record of 8-5-4 at Providence Park. Eight wins were the second-fewest among playoff teams.
Sporting KC (62): Gone are Ike Opara, Diego Rubio and Khiry Shelton. While the defense will still be solid, who will score the tough goals in the important games? Still enough talent to challenge LAFC in the West.
Here’s what happened: Injuries, lots of injuries…and no one scored the tough goals.
L.A.Galaxy (48): A full season of Zlatan Ibrahimovic means the single-season scoring record set last season by Josef Martinez could fall. It may need to because nothing has been done to fix the defense. New manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto has his work ahead of him.
Here’s what happened: The defense wasn’t fixed. It was horrible, allowing 59 goals. The Galaxy actually finished with a goal difference of minus-1.
Seattle (59): Seattle has also mostly stayed pat but did release influential midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. Who will fill in for Chad Marshall? Can a finally healthy Jordan Morris do anything of consequence?
Here’s what happened: Morris played very well with 10 goals and seven assists and the team did find a ways to replace Marshall and Alonso with Roman Torres and Gustav Svensson, among others.
Real Salt Lake (49): This team was all over the map last season but finished strong in the playoffs. It has a young core. Let's see if it grows together.
Here’s what happened: After Mike Petke was correctly fired, the team really came together.
Houston (38): Alberth Elis isn't enough to carry the team, but Matias Vera paired with Elis could be fun.
Here’s what happened: It wasn’t fun. Nothing about this team was fun.
BELOW THE PLAYOFF LINE
Dallas (57): They have a belief in the talented Homegrown players they continue to add because the team has unloaded most of its attacking players as well as manager Oscar Pareja.
Here’s what happened: One of those young players, Paxton Pomykal, blossomed into a solid talent.
San Jose (21): New esteemed manager Matias Almeyda will need every bit of his knowledge because this roster doesn't have enough talent to be consistently good. It will be fun to watch Chris Wondolowski finally break Landon Donovan's scoring record, though.
Here’s what happened: Wondolowski did break the record and Almeyda worked wonders. In the end, the team just didn’t have enough talent and depth.
Colorado (31): This team was horrible last season but made numerous moves to improve up the middle by adding strikers Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio, midfielders Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe and fullback Keegan Rosenberry. It wouldn't be surprising to see them finish seventh.
Here’s what happened: Like New England and Real Salt Lake, once the coach was fired and replaced by a better manager, or in this case, managers, the team really played well. But it couldn’t overcome its horrible start.
Minnesota United (36): Adrian Heath has yet to lead an MLS team to the playoffs, and I don't see that changing now, despite the upgraded defense and a new stadium.
Here’s what happened: I stink. That’s what happened. Heath did a wonderful job. The front office did a wonderful job adding Alonso, Opara, Jan Gregus, Vito Mannone, etc.
Vancouver (47): A massive roster turnover for the Whitecaps and new manager Marco dos Santos will mean a year of pain.
Here’s what happened: I got it right, but still stink.
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