I had the chance last season to write the SI.com MLS preview, so I was able to get my predictions down and I had Houston beating New England in the MLS Cup. Yes, behold my genius. Uh, nevermind that I jumped off the Houston bandwagon entering the playoffs...
Anyway, I wanted to get my season predictions in for this year so I can again marvel at my own genius or idiocy. I think I'm somewhere in between (though some of my SI readers would say I'm more toward the latter than the former).
5. Real Salt Lake
6. FC Dallas
2. New York
4. New England
5. Kansas City
MLS Cup: Houston over Chicago
The reasons behind my madness: Houston didn't do much to improve. They didn't get a big name to insert in their lineup. But what they have going for them is a loaded roster. Everyone knows about Brian Ching and Dwayne De Rosario but Ricardo Clark and Brian Mullan are just as talented and effective. Add to that Wade Barrett's experience and leadership and the overall work rate and Houston is about as good as it gets going into the 2007 season.
In the East, I think Blanco will give Chicago a boost at the right time. Unlike the Galaxy, who will also receive a boost, the Fire's schedule with Blanco in tow is not as hectic as Beckham's schedule with the Galaxy. The Fire will be hitting their stride in late October. I didn't pick them to finish atop the East but they'll get in the playoffs.
As far as the locals, the Galaxy needs to resolve their defensive situation, mainly in the center. Tyrone Marshall is solid but is a health risk. Troy Roberts, Kyle Veris and Shavar Thomas will have to all play well. But the Galaxy is pretty deep at midfield with Cobi Jones, Peter Vagenas, Nathan Sturgis, Kyle Martino, Santino Quaranta, Quavas Kirk to name a few. Kirk and Sturgis will miss time for the U-20 World Cup, though. That's where Frank Yallop's managing skills come into play. I think we'll see a fluid lineup which I think is not necessarily a bad thing.
Chivas USA is good. They just are. Like I said in my column for LASoccerNews, too much is made of the losses of Palencia and Loco Garcia. They were good parts of the team last year but it's not like the bottom is going to fall out with them gone. They have leaders, they have youth, they have talent, they have experience.
The best thing about this is that it will all start to play itself out on the field soon.