MLS Spotlight: Revisiting the ‘Kind of Bold’ Predictions – Eastern Conference

EASTERN CONFERENCE BANNER

BY CHRISTIAN ARAOS
Staff Writer

This is probably the most nervous I will feel writing about soccer and it is not even that big of a deal. Why so nervous? Because it is time to revisit the team by team predictions made before the regular season started.

Prefacing the predictions by saying they were “kind of bold” was a way to not get too caught up in the bloviating that comes when people make predictions in sports.

In other words, I gave myself an out.

But now comes the moment of truth … onto the predictions.

KIND OF BOLD EASTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTION REVIEW:

Chicago Fire

Chicago-Fire-Soccer-Club-LogoThe Fire’s season was always going to be dependent on the performance of it’s attacking players. Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald are an underwhelming forward pairing, especially when put against the better defenses in MLS. It showed as the Fire struggled out of the gate earning MacDonald the “Oaf of the Year” prize, but the acquisition of Mike Magee gives this team a shot. While Magee is not the League’s MVP, he has certainly become the Fire’s MVP scoring six goals in eight games since joining the Fire.

Still, the jury is still out on the Fire.

Preseason Prediction: The Fire’s season will depend on the acquisition of an effective attacking player as a DP

Result so far: Well there’s this so let’s wait and see.

Columbus Crew

Columbus CrewThe Crew have taken a step back so far this season. Had it not been for the implosion that is going on at DC United, the hottest seat in MLS would belong to Robert Warzycha. Federico Higuain has come down to Earth after a sensational second half of the season last year. He has five goals and six assists in 20 games compared to the five goals and seven assists he had in just 11 during the 2012 campaign. Add to that the 10 goals in 10 home games and you have the makings of a mediocre attack.

Statistics aside, the Crew just do not have any composure or confidence and it showed last Saturday when they conceded twice in stoppage time to lose to the Revolution at home.

Preseason Prediction: The Crew will make the playoffs.

Result so far: The Crew are six points behind the Houston Dynamo despite playing one extra game so their chances are unlikely at best.

DC United

DC United LogoThe end of the first paragraph from before the season says ‘ DC United are a good team.’ Well they certainly are not now. This still applies – and it was written in May.

Preseason Prediction(s): Chris Pontius becomes a USMNT mainstay and eventually goes to Brazil.

Result so far: Also unlikely – at best. Pontius couldn’t crack the preliminary roster for the Gold Cup. He will have to have a strong second half of the season to get a look at a November friendly or Camp Cupcake call-up in 2014.

Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo logoThe Dynamo have won their last two games after going winless in the previous seven. It was a nightmare dry spell for the team as they hadn’t scored for over six hours before Ricardo Clark put one in against the Philadelphia Union a couple of weeks ago. That dry spell has them sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but they are better than three teams above them in the standings.

Out of all the Eastern Conference teams, expect the Dynamo to make the biggest surge.

Preseason Prediction: Boniek Garcia will enter the MVP race.

Result so far: Also not looking that great as Garcia has missed games due to national team duty throughout the early season.

Montreal Impact

Montreal Impact LogoThe Impact’s early season success surprised many, but they have fallen back to Earth during the summer going winless in their last five. The Impact were always going to live on borrowed time because of their age up front and in the back. Marco Di Vaio has been superb with 11 goals but the Impact can only hope that the personal matter that forced Di Vaio to leave the team last week is not something that will keep him off the field for long.

Preseason Prediction: Marco Schällibaum doesn’t last past the summer.

Result so far: The Impact’s current struggles, plus the Juan Carlos Osorio rumors (even though they were shot down), puts Schällibaum’s position under question. Having Joey Saputo as a chairman doesn’t help either.

New England Revolution

New England Revolution LogoThe Revolution’s influx of exciting young players will continue to make them a team people will want to watch. Acquiring Juan Agudelo, New Englanded added to a young core of attacking talent with that also features Diego Fagundez, Saer Sene and Lee Nguyen.

However the most important aspect to the Revolution’s turnaround has been the play of José Gonçlaves. He has been a rock at the back and added a timely winner against the Crew last Saturday. The Revolution may not make the playoffs this year but they look to be in contention until the very end.

Preseason Prediction: Jerry Bengtson will score 10+ goals.

Result so far: Bengtson has one goal in 13 games and fell out of favor with the Honduran National Team. He has three goals in 26 games with the Revolution and if that mediocre form continues, it would not be a surprise to see his days in New England end.

New York Red Bulls

rbnylogoThere is never a dull moment on or off the field for the Red Bulls. This is a team that beats a second placed team 4-0, then has a scoreless draw with a second-from-bottom team the next week. This is a team who will always be at the forefront of any large debate in this league, from foreign players to fan behavior. A steady presence in the midfield would go a long way with this team as the season goes on.

Preseason Prediction: New York will blow first place late in the season.

Result so far: Your guess is as good as mine with this team.

Philadelphia Union

Philly Union LogoThe Union have also been inconsistent, but of course, not nearly as soap-opera like as New York has been. Amobi Okugo and Jack McInerney have excelled with the increase in playing time while Roger Torres remains mired on the bench. Sheanon Williams has also stepped up this season but the Union need to improve at left back to contend in the East.

Preseason Prediction: The Union will lose ten home games.

Result so far: The Union only have two home losses and with six home games remaining, they won’t lose ten.

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City LogoSurprisingly, Sporting Kansas City has more home losses than the Union.

Nevertheless, they are atop the Eastern Conference by four points and with the three teams below them being far from predictable, Kansas City are good value to remain atop the East.

Preseason Prediction: SKC will go undefeated at home.

Result so far: Losses to Portland, Seattle and Montreal proved that to be wrong, though SKC is the only Eastern Conference team with a positive road/goal differential.

Toronto FC

TFC logoDespite drawing the Red Bulls on Saturday, Toronto is winless in its last seven and they have not scored in their last three games. They only have two wins on the year and are not getting off the bottom parts of the table any time soon.

Preseason Prediction: Danny Califf gets traded.

Result so far: The Union considered trading for him but never did and Califf retired.

Predicted Standings (Current Standing)

1. SKC (1)

2. Houston (5)

3. RBNY (3)

4. DCU (10)

5. Columbus (8)

6. Chicago (7)

7. New England (6)

8. Philly (4)

9. Montreal (2)

10. Toronto (9)