It's prediction time again! My predictions last year had some hits and misses, though I think I was pretty good overall except saying LA would underachieve...oops. This year we've added the predictions of our four other writers, Drew, Steve, Jason & AC so check ours out and give us your predictions in the comments!
What happens to FC Dallas this season?
Daniel - I think FCD starts slow like they traditionally do this season. Without Brek Shea for a few weeks and David Ferreira potentially missing the first couple of games, a lot of pressure is going to be on Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo, I'm not sure if they're ready to shoulder the load yet. I do think Dallas hits their stride in the middle of the season and is right there in the playoffs, but gets knocked out in the semifinals to Los Angeles.
Drew - 4th place finish overall in MLS (oddly enough 4th in the West)
AC - If Ferreira and Shea stay healthy and competitive, there's good reason to believe this team can make a run at the cup. If they don't make/win the MLS Cup, they are still at the very least making it into the playoffs, likely past the first round.
Jason - Just to avoid homerness, I think they will finish third in the Western Conf. and nod out of the playoffs in the conference championship.
Steve - 12% improvement over 2011 in goals scored and allowed, so 47 for and 34 against. 3rd in West with 1.5 points per game. Lose in conference finals to LA.
FC Dallas Golden Boot Winner
Daniel - Blas Perez. He was brought here to score goals and teams will only be able to defend him 1v1 when Shea, Ferreira & Castillo are on the pitch.
Drew - Blas Perez. The big man should get plenty of goals in Schellas Hyndman's set up.
AC - I'd like to think it's Blas Perez but Shea is also another strong possibility. It depends on what sort of role Blas will be playing at striker. (The second of Alfredo's non-committal answers :)
Jason - Blas Perez
Steve - I'll be shocked and disappointed if it's anyone but Blas Perez. 15 goals.
FC Dallas MVP
Daniel - Andrew Jacobson. The forgotten man in everything is AJ's return to full fitness. When this team is great, he plays well. The attacking quatro are very very important, but I think the single most important is seen to be AJ.
Drew - Brek Shea. He'll be a major factor in getting this team into this playoffs this year.
AC - If Ferreira stays on the field I'll go ahead and name him. We saw in Orlando how he can just unlock defenses and place the final ball. That's something FCD sorely lacked last year.
Jason - Brek Shea
Steve - David Ferreira. I remain hopeful he'll play enough, and he's clearly a difference-maker on the pitch (look for my statistical breakdown of FCD with and without El Torito next week).
One bold prediction about the season
Daniel - Five goals for Ruben Luna this season. They'll come later in the year, but Luna breaks out in the second half of 2012.
Drew - Neither Brek Shea or George John will leave during this season.
AC - The Whitecaps will make the playoffs and maybe even Toronto. I don't think any of us would have been saying that midway through last season. (I'm not sure he understood the question)
Jason - Fabian Castillo proves his worth with a huge season by tallying double-digit goals.
Steve - Despite a substantially improved offense overall, FCD will have a 300 minute scoreless streak at some point, probably in June.
MLS Cup Champion
Daniel - Seattle Sounders. This is finally the year they put everything together with Fredy Montero winning golden boot. The Sounders upset LA in the Western Conference Final at the HDC & win the cup in front of a raucous home crowd.
Drew - Seattle Sounders FC. I think it is finally their year to get over the hump and not only win a playoff series but host a MLS Cup.
AC - LA Galaxy. I just don't see anybody fielding similar quality across the board.
Jason - As bad as I hate to say it, Seattle Sounders. Good squad that got better with offseason additions.
Steve - LA. I really hate to go with the easy answer, but their stars, depth, and coaching are all MLS-elite.
MLS Golden Boot Winner
Daniel - Give me Fredy Montero with 17 goals sparking a hot battle from European clubs to sign the Colombian.
Drew - Danny Koevermans (TFC). He should be able to bag at lead 16 or 17 this year, if not 19 or 20.
AC - I'm going to go with Edson Buddle. He won it two years ago and returns to the same cast. Keane alongside should free up space for the big man.
Jason - C.J. Sapong
Steve - Edson Buddle with 18.
Daniel - Toronto FC should make the playoffs for the first time. Would it be overachieving? I'm not sure, but tons of credit goes to Aron Winter who has turned things around behind Torsten Frings & Danny Koevermans. Look out for Chicago as well.
Drew - Portland Timbers. John Spencer and company have enough talent to get into the playoffs.
AC - Chicago Fire. They aren't an elite squad but last year's late-season run fueled their belief. Sometimes belief is all it takes.
Jason - Toronto FC
Steve - Chicago. I just like the construction of their squad. Top seed in the East.
Daniel - Sporting Kansas City. They won't have the final 3 months of the season at home this year and I'm just not sure they've gotten better in the off-season.
Drew - New York Red Bulls. Hans Backe won't last through the summer with this bunch
AC - Philadelphia Union. They lost more than a few useful players, including Mondragon who is replaced by very inexperienced keepers.
Jason - New York Red Bulls
Steve - Sporting Kansas City. Most analysts predict they'll be #1 in the East. I think Houston, Chicago, and NY will have better records.
One bold prediction related to MLS about any player or team
Daniel - Andy Najar makes the MLS Best XI side. Playing next to DeRosario and with Salihi up top, the Honduran is one of the breakout starts of 2012.
Drew - A second NY team will finally be award an expansion club. Yeah I said it.
AC - Teal Bunbury still won't live up to the hype. I didn't see what all the fuss was about last year and watching him in the preseason I still don't. Also I say Dallas picks up acceptable attendance (please...).
Jason - Montreal Impact will make the playoffs despite being an expansion team.
Steve - Despite playing 70%+ of their matches vs West opponents, LA will have most shots on goal, and Dallas will allow the least. Given unbalanced schedule, favorites should be Sporting KC and Philadelphia.