MLS: Reviewing Preseason Predictions…It’s Not Pretty

Those who frequent TSG know we pride ourselves on accountability and the axiom, “you can’t look at a single observation, you have to look at the entire body of work.”

On the former, witness Defense Exhibit A below. We probably should have doctored up some of the predictions (Kenny Cooper for Comeback Player of the Year or Eric Alexander for Breakout Player), but we didn’t.

On the latter, we give you Brek Shea (check out our interview with him), the lead MVP candidate with multiple positive observations in the first half body of work.

And now, let us cringe:

(By the way, it’s “tie-up” columns like this where I think, might be time to redo that layout at TSG. But then I think. I need another coffee and the feeling escapes me.)

B-, C+? We're being kind...(click to enlarge)


• CJ Sapong, best rookie and biggest surprise wrapped in one? Brek Shea or even Rich Balchan might have something to say about that.

• Will the Philadelphia Union still have time to fizzle this year?

• Is Donovan Ricketts just a tad overrated given that the Galaxy defense has stumbled much more with Gonzo out, not Ricketts?

• What does the 2nd half see for Philly’s Sebu Le Toux?

• Best keeper? Perhaps the best question…

16 responses to this post.

  1. Well, in TSG’s defense Will Bruin did look like a ROY candidate for a while The Dynamo as a whole are trending downward sharply, however, it’s not fun to watch.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/07/25 at 10:01 AM

      What’s the big issue there — haven’t seen a game of theirs in about 1.5 months.


      • Short answer: lack of service from the midfield in general, largely due to a lack of a true attacking centermidfielder. Teams have learned if they shut down Brad Davis on the left we have little attack to speak of, Cruz has his moments on the right but we can’t control the middle of the field.

        We also have all the same sort of striker up top with no variety in the attack, Bruin and Ching are both solid but there’s no pacier forward to play off their holdup play.


        • When you say lack of center midfield, I don’t think people fully understand sometimes. Geoff Cameron, a CB, is our best CM. Not only do we not have an attacking midfielder like you said, but we also lack a deep lying holding midfielder. When our defense just pings it back and forth amongst themselves. It’s because in the center of midfield we have nobody checking back for the ball nobody to inititate the attack. They stand still and watch the back line try to make something happen. Watch closely to the 3-0 loss this week TO CHIVAS USA. Nobody had any movement whatsoever off the ball with the exception of the Will Bruin give and go he should have finished. Once the ball is finally in midfield, making any remotely dangerous attacking move dies in the black hole we like to center midfield.


  2. Posted by dth on 2011/07/25 at 10:23 AM

    the unofficial rules of these MVP races are always difficult to sort out (there’s the novelty factor, the underdog factor, etc.), but Thierry Henry has easily been the best player in the league. In my opinion.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/07/25 at 10:42 AM

      Take out “easily” there. He’s probably close to the leader, but if he goes down Agudelo steps in.

      For Dallas, in fact, Ferrara went down. Yes, Hyndman changed the systems, but he had to have Shea to make it happen.

      I think it’s of course a grouping, but MVP candidates I have–in no order–are Henry, Shea, Wondolowski..and I’m thinking about putting Rosales in there.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/07/25 at 11:16 AM

        And if Agudelo steps in, what happens? Agudelo’s a worse goalscorer (.45 goals/90 vs. .67 goals/90 for Henry), and not even in the same planet as a playmaker.

        Henry is the best goalscorer, and top five as a playmaker. Can’t think of any players doing that this year–the unfortunate part of the Ferreira, Morales, etc. injuries.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/07/25 at 6:05 PM

        One last point: the real MVP of Dallas is “the defense.” Take out Brek Shea and Dallas become Columbus-in-the-Heat. Take out Hartman or John and Dallas is screwed.


  3. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/07/25 at 10:32 AM

    I think you nailed “Most Disappointing Team”, actually. NYRB has one fewer point than Colorado with the same number of games played, and I think most people understood their MLS Cup win didn’t necessarily place them in the league’s elite. On the other hand, a fashionable preseason discussion was whether NYRB had the best collection of talent every assembled on an MLS team.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/07/25 at 10:39 AM

      Fair point, +1 for TSG.

      More so if you consider Backe said he cared more about the Supporter’s Shield.


      • Posted by Jake C. on 2011/07/25 at 11:04 AM

        That’s statement falls on Backe, not necessarily on his team. I sympathize enough with the sentiment that a team should be gunning for the most wins during the league season, but it’s hard to instill that in a team when the structure of the league doesn’t encourage consistency. The bigger disappointment would be for the fans–NYRB’s underwhelming season has to be disheartening for them. A waste of a world-class stadium if you ask me.


  4. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/25 at 12:59 PM

    Why the Union doubt? Strong defending team with a solid offense thats still waiting for Le Toux to find his goals form. Valdez and Williams are two of the more solid backs in the league and Mondragon has been a huge upgrade in goal.
    Played both Everton and RM straight up and looked solid esp against Everton’s first side.
    Where’s the fizzle trend? I don’t see it…
    Le Toux has suffered a bit with Ruiz up front. He occupies a lot of the space that LT had free run into last yr. And he does love to run. Nowak seems to have a good handle on his talent base and will find ways to get LT into better positions I think.
    This is a good team that hasn’t seen it’s ceiling yet IMO.


  5. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/25 at 1:06 PM

    btw- if there are any defenders of Balotelli left out there please crawl back under the rock….

    I don’t care if you’re 20 or 15, if you don’t know that that is unacceptable in this game, then you’re never going to know. All the talent in the world but he’ll be on his 10th team by the time he’s 25. Let’s keep the showboating in the NBA and NFL where it’s become acceptable to disrespect the opposition.
    Totti gave him a nice going away present from Milan for that and you try that s— in an EPL match you better keep your head on a swivel.


  6. Posted by Crow on 2011/07/26 at 9:09 AM

    Not to be a jerk…. but I told you the Philly Union D would be good! But you didn’t want to listen! lol


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/07/26 at 9:27 AM

      Still time to fizzle, still time to fizzle.

      But Philly look sharp. I have to believe a lot of that has to do with Brian Carroll playing a solid onfield and off-field buffer as well as Mondragon’s influence.


      • Posted by Crow on 2011/07/27 at 12:41 PM

        Good point. Valdes and Califf have been great, and Modragon has alot to do with that, but I certainly agree that the presence of Carroll (and don’t forget about Okugo who has been playing well beyond his years when healthy) has made a huge difference.


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