The MLS Talk 2011 Season Predictions

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After weeks of previews, discussions, and debates, we are roughly 36 hours away from the beginning of the fifteenth MLS season.  The league has seen an offseason full of drafts, some national team names fleeing to Europe, some old friends returning to the league, some of the league’s first faces becoming the next wave of head coaches, and a new playoff structure that divides fans but gives us some intriguing championship possibilities.

And now it’s time for some soccer.  As a reminder, join me tomorrow evening on this site as we live chat during the MLS First Kick – Los Angeles pays a visit to Seattle for the league’s official first match.  As for the predictions below, the MLS Talk writers were asked to submit their predictions for the final rankings of the 2011 season, as well as the conference playoff winners, MLS Cup winners, and recipients of some of the more high-profile postseason awards.  Agree or disagree?  Sound off in the comments section below.

There were some common elements in our conference standings.  First, we all thought New York was the class of the East and a lock for the #1 seed this year.  As for the rest of the conference, there are some… differences.  Out West, everyone has Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles as the top two seeds, in some order.  Everyone also had the Sounders making the playoffs.  The Wild Card picks were diverse, including some of us who thought the West would have all four wild card spots.  Here are your 2011 conference predictions (playoff teams in bold):

Daniel Feuerstein

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Real Salt Lake
Houston Dynamo Los Angeles Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City Seattle Sounders
Toronto FC FC Dallas
New England Revolution Chivas USA
Columbus Crew Colorado Rapids
DC United San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire Vancouver Whitecaps
Philadelphia Union Portland Timbers

Earl Reed

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City Colorado Rapids
DC United Los Angeles Galaxy
Philadelphia Union Seattle Sounders
Columbus Crew San Jose Earthquakes
Houston Dynamo FC Dallas
New England Revolution Chivas USA
Chicago Fire Portland Timbers
Toronto FC Vancouver Whitecaps

Kristan Heneage

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United Real Salt Lake
Houston Dynamo Seattle Sounders
Chicago Fire FC Dallas
Toronto FC Colorado Rapids
New England Revolution Chivas USA
Columbus Crew Portland Timbers
Sporting Kansas City San Jose Earthquakes
Philadelphia Union Vancouver Whitecaps

Robert Hay

Eastern Conference Western Conference
New York Red Bulls Real Salt Lake
Sporting Kansas City Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United Colorado Rapids
Houston Dynamo Seattle Sounders
Philadelphia Union FC Dallas
Columbus Crew Chivas USA
New England Revolution San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire Portland Timbers
Toronto FC Vancouver Whitecaps

MLS Cup predictions: Daniel, Earl, and I agreed that the MLS Cup champ would be a one seed, with Daniel taking the hometown Red Bulls as his pick and Earl and I picking Real Salt Lake.  Kristan went out on a ledge and took DC United to win their fifth MLS Cup.

Most Valuable Player: Again, the top teams reigned in this category.  Daniel selected former Arsenal man Thierry Henry, Earl and Kristan picked U.S. national Landon Donovan, and I went with Alvaro Saborio from the future MLS champions Real Salt Lake.

The Golden Boot: There was much uncertainty in this prediction, and only Earl and I were ambitious enough to wager a guess.  Earl picked my MVP Saborio to take the top goal scorer crown, while I am tipping my cap to our Sounders contigent and picking surprise candidate Fredy Montero.

Coach of the Year: Last season’s coach of the year was veteran coach Schellas Hyndman, although only three of those coaching years were in MLS.  All of our coach of the year selections were new MLS coaches, with Daniel seeing Toronto head man Aron Winter wining the award while Earl and I again agreed upon DC United’s Ben Olsen.

Newcomer of the Year: This category spurred some interesting thoughts from the group.  Last year’s controversial winner was Thierry Henry, showing that MLS sometimes values a name over contributions on the field.  Our predictions were somewhat all over the place: Daniel went with Fabien Castillo of FC Dallas, Earl and I chose Omar Bravo for Sporting KC, and Kristan went with Erik Friberg of the Seattle Sounders.

Rookie of the Year: Much like Newcomer of the Year, the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year race was controversial and had three worthy candidates.  With a loaded draft class this past offseason, you would expect our picks to be very random, and they certainly are.  Daniel continued to predict great success for the Red Bulls by tabbing Juan Agudelo to win the award.  Earl, Kristan, and I were influenced by the University of Akron hype and took Will Bruin, Darlington Nagbe, and WIll Bruin respectively.

Most Improved Player: I asked everyone to submit a suggestion for this category because every year there is an MLS player or two who finally fulfill their hype or potential, and suddenly become big names in the league.  Kristan and Daniel thought that Dane Richards, the Red Bulls winger, would be that player in 2011, while Earl picked Richards’ teammate Tim Ream.  Since I wanted to show my Black-and-Red colors a little, I thought the player who would finally fulfill his promise would be D.C. United’s Branko Boskovic.

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39 Responses to The MLS Talk 2011 Season Predictions

  1. Dan are you crazy? Crew, Rapids and Earthquakes to miss out?! San Jose maybe, but Crew still one of better sides in a weak EC.

    Great shout for Sarobrio as MVP and Golden Boot, though Montero will contend for latter.

    Should have had a Most Improved Team category. Think that’s going to go to DC United. No way they’ll hold up the EC this year.

  2. Bandeeto says:

    It’s Alvaro Saborio.

    Some interesting predictions up there.
    -Don’t see how Houston finishes lower than 2nd.
    -CO won’t finish above LA or Seattle.
    -Though the east us currently the weaker group it is an interesting one, especially the lower 4-5 teams. Lots of parity and plenty of potential for the organization that gets it right. it’s going to be a dogfight for wildcard spots!
    -Now that I’ve had time to digest the new expanded playoff format its beginning to grow on me. I’m looking forward to lots of year end wildcard drama leading up to the playoffs. Ioat most wish there was one more game, after the MLS cup, between the SS and MLS Cup winners to determine who gets the buy in CCL play and who must enter the group stage. Don’t known about timing, etc. but I think it would be interesting.

  3. Robert says:

    kind of a shame that first kick is on the same day as Real Salt Lakes 1st leg of the CCL. I understand that MLS is scared to face March Madness but MLS should show a little respect to the CCL and get behind RSL. After the 10 team playoff announcement and now scheduling conflicts that will cannibalize the audience for the CCL, MLS has taken another 2 steps back.

    • watch both says:

      I will be watching both… first kick on flat screen and CCL on on my laptop

      • Brennan says:

        Try watching the CCL game on It’s free and the feed is pretty good, probably a lot better than’s feed.

        • derrickslc says:

          Wish I could be there at Rio Tinto.. but hence have to work. There for the 2nd leg vs. the Crew and it was absolutely insane. Bet the CCL match vs. Saprissa will be even better. Will switch between both RSL and MLS Kick, but it’s all about RSL on this day! The Concacaf live stream is high quality but lacks in its commentary and on-screen graphics like goals and time (at least last time I watched on their site).

          • Robert says:

            Sorry you have to work. I hope there is a great showing at the stadium and hope this match gets better ratings than First Kick. IF SLC can get 2 goal lead heading into Saprissa I feel confident that SLC can make it into the finals.

  4. Clampdown says:

    I would love some of whatever Kristan is smoking.

    • Kris Heneage says:

      Hahaha thanks mate!

      I let my heart rule my head a little with DC, I just see good things for them this year.

      I think this season will be a year of shocks so who knows!

  5. DomiNate says:

    Some great picks and some awful ones. Next November, PLEASE have the nerve to post this again and defend your answers!

    Good picks- NY and RSL winning their divisions, Montero in as a golden boot candidate, Donovan as MVP.

    Bad picks- PU finishing dead last, Portland finishing ahead of SJ, and not one of you put Seattle higher than 3rd in the West. I will keep saying this until someone acknowledges it, Sounders had the best record in MLS for the second half of the season last year. Knocked out of playoffs by a good LA team.

    • Dan says:

      good call on posting picks tho! they will be off, LA to win the West and Supporters shield again, might come down to last ditch effort to beat NY too it tho.

  6. Dan says:

    Montero golden boot? Lol, ok 😉 Perhaps the kid finally starts working hard this season then yes I can see it happen but now he is just pure lazy, and no the community shield isnt a valid prediction of what his season will look like.

    I agree on NY but having RSL as first i have to raise an eyebrow to. Hopefully they make it to the CCL championships and further but that will also greatly impact their MLS season, MLS just doesn’t have the kind of depth yet that it needs to field a strong team for 2 matches in a week, perhaps even 3!

    • Jeff says:

      RSL won’t have to contend with a congested schedule towards the end of the season this year like they did last year. The CCL knockout rounds are early in the season while the qualifying is later in the season. If anything, Seattle, LA, Colorado and Dallas will be the ones struggling at the end of the season.

    • Eric says:

      I am not sure why people keep thinking that RSL making the CCL finals would affect their MLS season. You do realize that if they made it to the finals there would only be 2 extra games added to their season right? And they would be over before the end of May? This would have zero affect on their season and their schedule is actually set up (at the request of RSL) in the early stages to afford them the best chances of succeeding in CCL (they have plenty of time before each potential CCL match and their early schedule is home loaded).

      In any case, RSL is insanely deep again this year and will have no problems with added competition. If anything they will be struggling to find their younger guys more time to get experience. Last year they fielded mostly reserve lineups against Cruz Azul (and won 3-1) and Colorado (tied 1-1) towards the end of the season and had great success. They are absolutely stacked at midfield, easily the deepest team in MLS, and have the best defense in MLS. Their offense will again be one of the best, if not the best, in the league.

  7. kickit says:

    Playoff Predictions- West : RSL, Seattle, Dallas, LA, Colorado, San Jose East: New York, Sporting KC, Houston, Columbus. MLS Cup Final: RSL vs NY Winner: Real Salt Lake.

  8. Alan says:

    I don’t think people are giving San Jose enough credit. I don’t think they will win the west, but I’m going out on a limb and saying top 4. They did better than expected last year and I believe they will do better still this year. They didn’t make a lot of adjustments but they trimmed some of the mediocre and made a couple of solid but unspectacular additions.

    Of course I am a supporter so I am biased. I think Earl’s overall predictions will be the most accurate, followed by Robert.

    • Charles says:

      At first glance it looks like everyone went safe, but then there were some that picked Colorado to finish higher than consensus.

      Not one person had Seattle in the mix ?
      That is bizarre, not just because I am a Sounder’s superfan, because they had such a great second half ( Salt Lake style ), they improved the team in the offseason, if only because injured guys came back. They are very deep and not old, so the injury ex-factor that is a major risk for LA is not there.

      Daniel…Henry for MVP ?
      You might want to go back and watch last season with a little less bias. He did close to NOTHING for NYRB last year. I guess you have him as most improved for sure.

      • Clampdown says:


        He came to RBNY with an injury that was clearly much worse than anyone divulged. He also played very little for the club after he got here. There is no way you can make any conclusion about Henry based on last season.

        I would be extremely surprised if he doesn’t have a great year and dominate many matches. This isn’t Ljungberg we’re talking about here.

        • Charles says:

          I understand that, why do you assume his injury was worse than anyone imagined though ?
          He did play 11 games.

          Second thought, why do you think he plays so much more this year. He ain’t a year younger.

          I do agree this is not Ljungberg, but I don’t think this is Landon or Ferreira either.

          Go ahead and take him on your fantasy team, our team will just beat yours by that much more !

          • Clampdown says:

            Yes, 11 appearances, and definitely full matches. I don’t recall him playing more than one or two full matches, if that. If you watched him play you could tell he was carrying a not insignificant injury.

            I know it’s become your thing to hope for the DPs to fail, but I think it’s unlikely that he won’t be the top player in the Eastern conference this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is MVP of the whole league.

          • Clampdown says:

            Hmmm, just checked. He played more minutes than I thought. Anyway, I’ll stick by the other stuff.

          • Charles says:

            I dont HOPE for DPs to fail, I just don’t hold much hope for them to succeed. They are old in a young man’s game in a young man’s league.

            Have you seen NKufo ?

            I saw Henry play plenty, I thought he looked old, you thought he looked injured. Either way, you have to think that injury is a big risk this year too, no ?

            BTW, There are a LOT of good players in the East, just not good teams.
            Well we disagree, at least we are aguing about soccer…nice improvement on this site !

            You have your fantasy team yet ? The race for second it on !!
            Our team is like BARCA BABY !!!

          • Clampdown says:


            I will agree with you on that … it is a young man’s league. It is faster and tougher than a lot of people outside of this country know. And yes, I think this will cause problems for older players, particularly those that think they can come here for a paycheck (which is why I don’t want either Lampard or Anelka coming here). I think Henry is different, though. He is too talented not to have a major impact. I guess we’ll find out this year.

            I didn’t sign up for the fantasy league. I should have.

  9. AJ says:

    Didn’t Will Bruin go to Indiana, not Akron?

  10. Brennan says:

    When you say Theirry Henry won Newcomer of the Year last year, are you talking about on this site or the official MLS award? Because Alvaro Saborio won the official MLS Newcomer of the Year award in 2010. Theirry Henry was just a controversial finalist for the award.

  11. dan says:

    lol, u guys are giving WAYYYY too much credit to RSL. they beat a brand new second rate mls team in the CCL. The crew might as well be an expansion team with how much they changed their squad. I really don’t see RSL winning a title. They will probably be 2nd behind LA. Dallas i think wont repeat what they did last year. Seattle will be a solid mid table club as usual. Colorado wont repeat success, they might sneak into playoffs again. thats all

  12. Sancho says:

    Is it just for me that Heneage’s wild card picks don’t appear?

  13. Dan says:

    My Predictions
    1.FC Dallas* 2.Real Salt Lake* 3. Seattle Sounders* 4.LA Galaxy* 5.Colorado Rapids* 6.San Jose Earthquakes 7.Portland Timbers 8.Vancouver Whitecaps 9. Chivas USA

    1.New York Red Bulls* 2. Houston Dynamo* 3.Columbus Crew* 4. Sporting Kansas City* 5. Philadelphia Union* 6. DC United 7. New England Revolution 8. Toronto FC 9. Chicago Fire

    I think this is the year the East could start to catch up to the west

  14. Alan says:

    My predictions:

    West: RSL, Galaxy, Colorado, Dallas, San Jose, Seattle, Chivas, Portland, Vancouver.

    East: NY, Sporting KC, DC United, Houston, Columbus, New England, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto.

    MLS Cup: RSL v NY. RSL with the win.

  15. Charles says:

    Salt Lake


    Wild Cards too hard for me to predict, plus 10 is too many for me anyways…

    Is it game time yet ?!?!?!

  16. Tyler says:

    East: RBNY, Sporting KC, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo
    West: Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, Vancouver Whitecaps FC

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