Friday, March 4, 2016

MLS 2016 Preview: 21 Years And Going Strong

Last year the MLS season ended with my hometown Portland Timbers claiming their first MLS Cup over my initial club, Columbus Crew SC. In their MLS fourth campaign, earning their first star was quite an achievement for the Portland Timbers. Now it's time to fill the role of prognosticator as another Major League Soccer season is upon us.  This weekend, I'll be taking part in the Portland Timbers flag unfurling and then joining the Timbers Army faithful as we stand and cheer as we raise the curtain on our 'Defend The Cup' campaign. Having attended the first Columbus Crew match back in 1996 when they played in 'The Shoe,' I am very excited for this MLS Cup rematch and the strides the league has made. Below is my attempt to make sense of what the standings will look like on Sunday, October 23rd after all the regular season matches are played.

Eastern Conference
This looks to be a tight race from top to bottom. I believe that Toronto FC will put things together this season due to key off season defensive upgrades that will complement their potent offense. As Toronto begins their campaign with eight straight away I believe this will allow the team to gel and also set the tone for their success in allowing them to finish strong at home. My surprise team on the upside is the Philadelphia Union and the success of Earnie Stewart's "MLS Moneyball." On the downside I see NYC FC regretting that they did not invest another season in Jason Kreis as they continue to search for success.    
  1. Toronto
  2. Columbus
  3. Montreal
  4. NY Red Bulls
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Orlando
  7. New England
  8. NYC FC
  9. DC
  10. Chicago

Western Conference
Very much like last the Eastern Conference, any of the top four clubs below could finish at the top of the table. Even with major roster changes for Portland, I still think they clinch the top spot in a tight race. My surprise team on the upside will be San Jose. They will find a way to win close games and move up the ladder. On the down side, Seattle will miss the presence of Obafemi Martins as Jordan Morris is one year away from making a major impact on the scoreline. I also see Los Angeles having some chemistry issues that will cost them in the standings.    
  1. Portland
  2. Vancouver
  3. Dallas
  4. San Jose
  5. Seattle
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Kansas City
  8. Houston
  9. Real Salt Lake
  10. Colorado
MLS Cup Winner

For the final I see it wrapping up at Providence Park as the Timbers earn their second star against Montreal. Hope that you enjoy the season and get a chance to attend a match or two this season. Let me know how you see the season unfolding and who you think wins MLS Cup in 2016.