28 March 2006

2006 MLS Predictions: How the West Was Won. Or at least, not lost.

Well, I guess it is time for me to join in the fun. Now, before you go off and place some wagers on these predictions, just remember that the coach of your local U12 team probably has a better sense of the game than I do. Also, the new episode of the Screaming Eagles podcast has a nice quick thumbnail summary of the entire league, so listen to it if you've missed the off-season.

The other thing is that I haven't taken much a strong analytical view to this at all. This is all gut feeling. I don't think MLS supports a sort of SABR viewpoint at this point where I could sit down and calculate Win Shares or the like. And when I listen to my instincts, they tell me to say things that could very easily be wrong. So, that being said, here's my best guess at order of finish.

The West: It is still the weaker conference in MLS, the opinions of websites with unlinkable Terms of Service aside. You know that there will be three decent teams, and three weaker teams.

  1. Houston Dynamo: Don't expect to see an impact of the move to Houston manifest itself in the first few games. Perhaps in August, when Houston and San Jose are different climates entirely, but I expect Houston to perform well.
  2. FC Dallas: No more Eddie Johnson, but still a fairly decent Carlos Ruiz. FC Dallas will settle into Pizza Hut park this year, enjoy increased attention to soccer in Texas in general, and edge out the competition for the the second spot in the west.
  3. LA Galaxy: Two things: the loss of Landon Donovan for the World Cup may not hurt as much, but I'm not quite ready to believe that Herculez Gomez is going to sustain the performance he had from last year.
  4. Chivas USA: Really, the entire bottom three finish of the west is a crap shoot, but yes, I'm really thinking Bob Bradley will get Chivas into the playoffs. Barely. Bradley has the relationships with his senior players to execute his vision, something he never had with the Metros. That should be the difference to get them in. But only just.
  5. Real Salt Lake: RSL will just miss the playoffs. I'm thinking within 4 points in the standings. The team is better, and I certainly expect better midfield play and transition. RSL might even see 40 points in results this year, but Chivas will see just a bit more.
  6. Colorado Rapids: Poor, poor Mike Petke. Really, all I see here is a mediocre team that hasn't really gotten better while their competition has improved.