The 2011-2012 offseason has officially begun. We get expansion draft protected lists this afternoon(hopefully) and there could be a small about of player movement as there is a one day trade window open today in advance of Wednesday's expansion draft.
With the season ending last night, I thought it would be fun to look back at my predictions from the beginning of the season and beginning of the playoffs. I had some glorious hits and some ridiculous misses. Here are my predictions from March 15.
Dallas will give up fewer than 25 goals this year, leading the league in goals against.
An MLS goalkeeper of the year candidate with a backup who is no slouch himself. Then, you've got these options for your back 4: Jackson, Loyd, Shea, John, Ihemelu, Benitez. Five players who have spent time with their national teams. That's the deepest defensive rotation in the league and you've still got Daniel Hernandez, Eric Alexander and Andrew Jacobson in the midfield to muddle things up. The defense is going to be very very good.
Dallas gave up 17 goals in the first half of the season and 22 in the second half. That number of 17 goals is a bit misleading, however, as Dallas had 8 shutouts in the first half of the season. The defense was very very good in the first half, but collapsed in the second half as there was the George John transfer situation, injuries to key players, Jackson and Shea moving back into the attack and an overload of games. It's very interesting to see that I thought the team was very deep defensively at the start of 2011 as defensive depth was one of the biggest problems towards the end.
Five 0-0 games this year.
Last year, FCD played in just two 0-0 games, and I think that goes up in 2011. Yes, that means five games in
which David Ferreira doesn't have a goal or an assist. The offense is going to look like Barcelona in some
weeks and others Stoke City.
That's the nature of young attackers and while Castillo, Luna and Chavez will form one of the most exciting
partnerships in the league, the problem with youth is that it's inconsistent. The defense will bail out FCD in
some games to earn points. The 0-0 games won't likely be boring though, I can tell you that.
Well there were 3 0-0 games in 2012, but it would've been 5 had the defense been a little better. Dallas was shutout 7 times in the last two months of the season, but the defense couldn't keep pace. Overall I think this prediction was pretty spot on.
Rollercoaster ride offensively.
As I eluded to in the last prediction, look for games where FCD scores 3 or 4 goals almost effortlessly while
there will be other games in which FCD is gameplanned perfectly by the opposition and gets shut down.
While FCD is the deepest team in the league defensively, there's not a whole lot onces you get past Milton,
Luna, David, Avila, Castillo and Chavez. Ricardo Villar could be a spark plug, but I'm not ready to anoint him
24 goals in the first half of the season, a pace that puts FCD near the top of the league offensively, 18 in the second half, a bottom of the league pace. However, this is all kind of a wash given the absence of David Ferreira for the vast majority of the season so it's tough to analyze this though the offense was a rollercoaster this year.
Andrew Jacobson will have a breakout season.
Those of you who are avid readers know I really like this kid. From everything I've been told, AJ was not used
properly in Philadelphia and should thrive under Schellas Hyndman who knows exactly how to use the kid
due to his relationship with Andrew's college coach at Cal.
This one was spot on. AJ was arguably the best player on a very good 1st half FC Dallas team. He provided the link in the midfield between defense and attack while winning almost every ball in the air. He picked up an injury in the July RSL game and was never quite the same. The good play from the first half earned Jacobson a new contract and he is a long-term FC Dallas player.
Dallas will make another trade from their defensive depth to acquire a forward midseason.
This won't be a blockbuster trade, but I see FCD getting a proven forward from within the league at some point
Pretty close on this one. Dallas traded from midfield depth, Eric Avila to acquire Maicon Santos, a trade that didn't really work out. I still contend that this one could be a success in the future as Maicon learns to play with his FCD teammates in next year's pre-season. Don't close the door on Maicon yet.
FCD wins the US Open Cup.This is an extremely risky prediction as I can see Schellas go either way with his
squad selection for the tournament going with the "play the kids" style of Arsene Wenger or the complete
opposite knowing that he needs a trophy this year. Dallas is such a deep team defensively, and tough to beat
on any given day which will help them in this tournament. Ruben Luna tends to dominate younger defenses
and I think he ends up as the leading scorer.
Well I wasn't too far off on this one. Dallas eliminated Orlando City and Real Salt Lake but fell to Seattle 1-0 in a closely contested semifinal. Maybe next year....
Dallas advances to the Western Conference Final losing at Real Salt Lake.Without the distraction of
Champions League in 2011, RSL makes a late run to win the Supporters Shield and defeats FC Dallas at a
raucous Rio Tinto Stadium.
Western Conference: Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders FC, Los Angeles
Galaxy, Portland Timbers, San Jose, Chivas USA, Vancouver Whitecaps
Eastern Conference: New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Columbus Crew, DC
United, Philly, Chicago, New England, Toronto
WCF: RSL def FCD
ECF: NY def KC
MLS Cup: NY def RSL
Well I got the playoff teams pretty much right except for Philadelphia, but the rest is kind of sketchy. Neither MLS Cup team made it, though I got 2 of the 4 conference final teams. I had Kansas City as my overachievers which was pretty spot on, but had LA as underachievers which I'd like to strike from the record.
MLS Golden Boot Winner: Alvaro Saborio
MLS Defender of the Year: George John
MLS Coach of the Year: Jason Kreis
Nope, nope and nope.....oh well.
If you remember, Drew and I both had LA defeating Sporting Kansas City in the final of MLS Cup in our playoff predictions made a month ago, so we can both take some credit for that.