Kind of Bold Predictions: MLS Western Conference

Western Conference ShieldBY CHRISTIAN ARAOS
Staff Writer

Last week, I ran through all the teams in the Eastern Conference and provided a quick look at what to expect from each of them, issuing a kind of bold prediction in the process. Frankly, making your predictions “kind of bold takes” away the semblance of arrogance that comes in making your predictions bold.

In other words, don’t get too riled up over this sort of stuff.

Anyways, westward bound we go!

Chivas USA

Chivas USA LogoAhh Chivas USA. The team is trying to implement a Mexican-American policy that is both controversial and entirely legal (I talk about it here.) In the overhaul, the club has lost two of it’s most talented players in Sharlie Joseph and Juan Pablo Angel. That leaves 20-year old Juan Agudelo as the team’s biggest name and main attacking threat. With Agudelo very much on the radar of several European clubs, new Head Coach Chelis is going to have to find someone who can serve as Agudelo’s partner and replacement, especially as José Corria and Tristan Bowen remain quite unproven.

Defensively, Chivas are going with height in their three man back line, but Oswaldo Minda as the club’s best choice defensive midfielder, expect teams to fire away at Dan Kennedy for another long year.

Kind of Bold Prediction: Juan Agudelo leaves in the summer.

Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids logoAn 0–6 July effectively ended Colorado’s hopes at a playoff berth last season.  This season, Oscar Pareja is working on putting the pieces together to get the Rapids back into the playoffs after missing out last year. The return of Pablo Mastroeni will help the team in regards to experience and bolstering an already deep midfield.

While midfield depth is not a concern, attacking depth is. With Edson Buddle, the club’s only proven forward, a shadow of the player who went to the 2010 World Cup, the Rapids may see a positive season come up short.

Kind of Bold Prediction: The Rapids fade in the final six weeks.

FC Dallas

FC Dallas logoInjuries and a jaded/regressed Brek Shea made FC Dallas one of the biggest disappointments of the 2012 season. Now that Shea is gone, FC Dallas can return to being a faceless team that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Dallas has a very capable attack with David Ferreira serving as playmaker for Kenny Cooper, Eric Hassli and Blas Perez; three strikers who know how to score. Jackson and Fabian Castillo are solid wingers which gives Dallas the three core components of an MLS attack (playmaking, service and finishing). In order for Dallas to crack the top five, they will need depth and strong defensive midfield play.

Kind of Bold Prediction: Dallas trades for a depth winger.

LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy logoThe Galaxy will begin their MLS Cup defense without two of it’s biggest stars. David Beckham is now at PSG and Landon Donovan was last spotted in Cambodia on sabbatical. The load is now placed on recently named captain Robbie Keane. A handful of players including Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho can replace Beckham but LA are going to start out slow without Donovan, especially if they decide to test out youngsters Jose Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes.

Kind of Bold Prediction: Landon Donovan’s absence costs LA the Supporters Shield.

Portland Timbers

Portland Timbers LogoThe dirty little secret about Portland was exposed the last season. It just took a little work to look past the fan atmosphere and see a mediocre product on the field.

Now Caleb Porter is in charge and looking to install an attractive form of soccer. The roster is being overhauled and for the most part isn’t completely done yet. Ryan Johnson and Ben Zemanski are good acquisitions and with Darlington Nagbe and Danny Mwanga, there is definitely the possibility that Portland can have an electric attack. Mikaël Silvestre does not convince me as a solid defender in MLS and this team will have backline issues.

That being said, as long as Portland remains patient with Porter’s project, then there will be good vibes out of Cascadia.

Kind of Bold Prediction: The Timbers will end the season strong.

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake LogoWith the departures of Will Johnson, Jámison Olave and Fabián Espíndola, RSL are looking to reload with cheaper talent. Robbie Findley returns to Utah after a failed stint with Nottingham Forest and Joao Plata comes in from Toronto FC. Getting Lovel Palmer and Cale Grossman will be a plus but RSL are just lacking that game changer to be legitimate MLS Cup contenders at the current time.

Kind of Bold Prediction: Robbie Findley scores 7-10 goals.

San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose Earthquakes logoSan Jose’s success last year was not that surprising. They hafreshly-paid Chris Wondolowski will continue to give defenses problems. Picking up Mike Fucito as a fourth striker is a superb move as the Earthquakes will not be able to rely on all three strikers being available due to USMNT duty.

Expect San Jose to go for a young, creative DP in the summer with CCL action coming up.

Kind of Bold Prediction: San Jose wins Supporters Shield.

Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders logoThe prediction that Seattle will get eliminated by Tigres is not an indictment on the talent of this Sounders team but rather a testament to a red-hot Tigres side running into a team that is just starting it’s season.

Seattle looks every bit like a team that is going to be a force in the Western Conference despite the departures of Freddy Montero and Jeff Parke. Two things to pay attention for this season: first, Eddie Johnson is the leading forward for the team but national team duty will be draining on Johnson so depth is needed. That need leads to our second item, who will be the attacking DP that Seattle aims for. If the past few years have presented us with any indication of the type of player the Sounders would go for, then don’t expect the player to have recently played for teams in West London.

Kind of Bold Prediction: Seattle gets knocked out by Tigres in the CCL.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver Whitecaps logoThe Whitecaps took a gamble last year on Barry Robson and it didn’t work, killing the momentum of a good start. Robson is out and Daigo Kobayashi is in as the playmaker. Nigel Reo-Coker joins as a defensive midfield option. Vancouver’s defense will be solid all year and that will allow for the offense to settle. More importantly it takes the stress off Darren Mattocks who is expected to have a big year. Mattocks will not have to score every game for Vancouver to be in playoff contention but how hot he gets determines how far up Vancouver goes in the standings.

Kind of Bold Prediction: The Whitecaps qualify for the CCL.

 

Kind of Bold Standings:

1. San Jose

2. Sounders

3. Galaxy

4. RSL

5. Vancouver Whitecaps

6. FC Dallas

7. Colorado

8. Portland

9. Chivas

  • NEW @Christian_Araos Kind of Bold Predictions #MLS West Conf http://t.co/6j2vEbs9v6 #Sounders #FCDallas #LAGalaxy #RCTID #RSL #Whitecaps

  • Dave from Dix Hills

    Good call in RSL though I think whitecaps are going to be a big surprise. Good pick ups late this offseason

  • DJ

    Don’t sleep on the Galaxy man