Friday, March 2, 2018

2018 MLS Season Predictions

In my traditional cheap way of getting content onto this website without exuding much effort, it's time for some 2018 MLS predictions as the season starts this weekend. I'm excited, and a few others are, so where do I think all of these teams are going to slot in during the 2018 season?

Eastern Conference:
1. Toronto FC
3. Atlanta United
4. New York Red Bulls
5. Orlando City
6. Columbus Crew
7. Chicago Fire
8. Philadelphia Union
9. New England Revolution
10. DC United
11. Montreal Impact

Comments: Toronto FC is, and has been, the class of MLS for a few seasons now, and there's no reason to think they won't be again with the adjustments that they've made. They may not win the Supporters Shield again because of CCL focus, but they are the best team in the league and one of the biggest favorites for MLS Cup in recent memory.

NYCFC and Atlanta United both have the ability to challenge TFC atop the East, but both have some notable flaws, being NYCFC's overreliance on David Villa, and ATLU's problems deep in midfield. Both won't have trouble scoring goals, but there are a few notable flaws which may keep them from upsetting the Reds. The Red Bulls have made quality adjustments this offseason and look as if they may have just turned the corner, and Orlando City's huge offseason makeover and desperation to finally make the playoffs will get them in at long last. Columbus, who were inches away from MLS Cup last season, have uncertainty about where they'll be playing in the future over their heads, as well as dealing Meram and Kamara away, leaving them with some big holes, but their style will be good enough to make the postseason.

Western Conference:
1. Seattle Sounders
2. Real Salt Lake
3. Portland Timbers
4. San Jose Earthquakes
5. LA Galaxy
6. Sporting Kansas City
7. Houston Dynamo
8. FC Dallas
9. Vancouver Whitecaps
10. LAFC
11. Colorado Rapids
12. Minnesota United

Comments: While the Sounders are older and lacking Jordan Morris, some CCL evidence shows that they're going to be a-OK, at least barring any other major injuries. They're a favorite in the West, but not the favorite. RSL was the best team in MLS from June on, and their attack has some great potential. They look to make a huge jump this year, as do the LA Galaxy, whose own roster makeover was notable in major ways, and Sigi Schmid has the track record of making teams like this work. Portland has a new manager and a much younger roster, but there are questions about how they play and why Caleb Porter left, leaving the defending regular season champs from the West last year in a little hole.

San Jose will be sneaky good this year and play good soccer, and as the team is far more balanced now, they are a dark horse Cup contender. And Sporting Kansas City with their physicality and defensive posture should have enough to make the postseason again, if just barely, because they always run out of steam by August. This means both Vancouver and Houston will fall out from last year's six teams out West, and FC Dallas, who have fallen off a cliff in the last nine months, may not be able to climb out either. Notably, LAFC will have a season more akin to Minnesota United rather than Atlanta United in year one.

East Champ: Toronto FC
West Champ: Real Salt Lake
MLS Cup 2018 Winner: Toronto FC
Supporters Shield: NYCFC
Open Cup: New York Red Bulls
Golden Boot: David Villa
MVP: Miguel Almiron
Defender OTY: Justen Glad
Goalkeeper OTY: Nick Rimando
Coach OTY: Patrick Vieira
Rookie: Tomas Hilliard-Arce (LA Galaxy)
Newcomer: Carlos Vela

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