After an offseason that seemed to fly by, the MLS regular season kicks off this weekend. Last year was fantastic: you had Toronto setting the MLS points record, Atlanta having an incredible year in their 1st season, finishing 3rd in the Supporters’ Shield standings, and Seattle made it to a 2nd consecutive MLS Cup final, only to lose to a nearly unstoppable Toronto team. But what does 2018 have in store for us?
Real Salt Lake wins the West
Last season RSL missed the playoffs by 1 point, and to make it even worse, it came on the last day of the season as the Quakes pulled off a 3-2 win against Minnesota United, it was only the 2nd time they missed the playoffs in club history. This team may have some questions at striker, but they have a ton of wing talent and a good defense. The West this year looks like it may be a bit of a crap shoot, so my pick is for RSL to be consistent all season and take the top spot heading into the playoffs.
Atlanta United wins the Supporters’ Shield
Atlanta finished 3rd in the race for the Supports’ Shield in 2017, despite it being their 1st season in the league. They already have a massive fan base, and my guess is their popularity will only continue to grow, especially if they keep winning. They were a big surprise last year, but the young squad just seemed to run out of gas in the playoffs. I think they will have learned and grown from that experience, and they’ll come back even stronger this year. Plus, Toronto may be a bit worn down after their unbelievable play last year, which could help Atlanta out. Side note: Josef Martinez is my pick to win the Golden Boot.
Sporting Kansas City wins another US Open Cup
As an SKC fan, this is a frustrating one for me to pick. Sure, it’s great to win a trophy, but you’d like to win a better one than the US Open Cup, which SKC seems to dominate for some reason. In 3 of the last 6 years (2012, 2015, and 2017), Sporting has come away with this trophy, but you’d like to see better appearances in the MLS Cup (won it in 2013, but haven’t made it out of the knockout stage since) or the CONCACAF. This team should be good, even with losing Dom Dwyer last summer and Benny Feilhaber this winter, and I expect the playoff streak to stretch to 8 years, but I think the US Open Cup is the only piece of hardware that has a chance of coming home to Kansas City.
New England Revolution win the… Wooden Spoon
For those of you that are unaware, the wooden spoon “award” goes to the team that finishes last in points. Last season it went to DC United, who is much improved this year, probably even a playoff team, and the Revs finished 7 points ahead of them. The problem is New England didn’t improve. At all. Which is a huge problem in the MLS because it seems that most teams tend to take a step forward each year. They should be able to score some goals, but that won’t matter because of how god awful their defense will be. I don’t think this team stands a chance of stopping anyone. The only team that I think can give them a run for their money for the wooden spoon is LAFC, which is an expansion team.
Finally, the MLS Cup winner will be…
The LA Galaxy
This may seem odd to those of you who follow the MLS closely, given that LA finished dead last in the West last year and tied for last in points with DC, but this team is good. They reloaded and look ready to go for 2018, and as I previously mentioned, the West is going to be a tight race. I think LA is going to have the talent to emerge from the West victorious in the playoffs and take down Atlanta in the MLS Cup finals. There are rumors that they will sign European star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which would be an incredible add. I think Ola Kamara has a great season and leads this team to their 6th MLS Cup title.
BONUS: Extra Hot Take
The Seattle Sounders will miss the playoffs
The last 2 years, the Sounders have struggled out of the gate, only to find their groove mid-season and make it to the finals (and win an MLS Cup), and they will start slow again this year, only they won’t recover. Dempsey is old and has a lot of mileage on his legs, Jordan Morris was supposed to be the breakout star, and they didn’t do anything to improve this offseason. For the first time in club history, the Seattle Sounders will miss the playoffs.
Please give me a follow on twitter @TCalvin_PSF, where I will live-tweeting some matches this season!