See, the joke is, I'm advising you not to use these picks for gambling purposes. Because you totally wouldn't - you'd have to be completely stupid. That's the funny of the post title.
Okay, I'm deeply resentful now, because Jamie Trecker didn't make any predictions. Who the hell am I supposed to crib off of?
In predicted order of regular season finish:
The Columbus Crew have been -
Kidding, of course.
Toronto's fans have been -
No, obviously not, my God, can you imagine?
Any lingering questions on the comparative worth of the Supporters Shield were answered this offseason, when two-time, two-time Shield winners DC United took a meat-ax to the roster. I love who they brought in to replace them, though. I think Zach Wells is an upgrade to Troy Perkins, and he might not even start. I can't wait to see the finesse and grace that 6' 2", 200 lb. Gonzalo Peralta brings to MLS from the Argentine Second Division. We'll see if Fred improves on last year, but you can't ask more from Luciano Emilio. And they even got Frank O'Neill to give breathing room to Jaime Moreno, and to bring in the Irish audience.
Then there's the guy they get to replace Christian Gomez. Gallardo is just one of those signings that made fans of other teams go "Aw, crap." DC learned their lesson in trying to replace Etcheverry and missing the playoffs for two years. I wish I could get to a place where I didn't think Gallardo was going to chew up our little league, and the best I can do is "Well, I thought DC would win the double last year, and they only won the Shield, so maybe there's hope."
They even get an early chance to gel against quality opposition - no, not Harbour View, Pachuca. It's one thing to sew "Tradition" on the collars, but it's another to understand how that team was built, learn from mistakes of the past, and continue to improve. Jesus, I hate DC United, don't you?
I always think New England will belly-flop in the regular season, and they make it to the championship. Then I pick them to win the game, and they belly-flop. You'd think the team with the most consistent personnel in the league wouldn't be so baffling, but there you are.
Love the Chris Albright pickup. Defenders, as we've noted, are at a premium these days, especially proven winners who can contribute to the offense. Maybe "let's get older in the back" isn't usually a recipe for success, but I like the experience of Heaps, Reis and Albright to handle what this division is going to throw at them. And Michael Parkhurst is going to be the defender of the year, so by heisting Albright, the Revolution have a reliable defense and are preventing teams like Chicago and New York from shoring up their weaknesses.
Midfield seems set, with Joseph, Larentowicz and Thompson. Don't put these guys on your fantasy team, for God's sake - unless you're in my division, in which case, yellow cards count more than goals this year. It's a new rule. Then there's the wonderful Steve Ralston, who I hope plays forever. He was shafted out of a Best XI place last year, so maybe this year if he leads the league in assists again he'll get a little appreciation.
I'd feel better for the Revolution if they weren't totally dependent on Taylor Twellman, but maybe Adam Cristman will replace Pat Noonan adequately enough. He's not already on the disabled list, though, so maybe not.
Curt Onalfo brought in a totally new style to the Wizards last year, that made them so much fun to watch. They even won half the time. And when given a choice between winning ugly and losing beautifully - Onalfo sold his soul, and Kansas City made it to the second round.
Drive for show, putt for dough, I suppose. I think the big question on defense isn't so much the loss of Nick Garcia as whether Kevin Hartman continues taking out full-page ads in USA Today saying "I'm on the downslope of my career," metaphorically speaking. Throwing a two-game shutout of Chivas USA in the playoffs helps, but Houston winning the semifinal in a stroll doesn't. No defense led by Conrad and Zavagnin is going to be in terrible trouble, but Kansas City played a high risk game last year, and Hartman's margin for error isn't big.
The big news for the Wizards offense is, "Wow, Davy Arnaud's been in the league six seasons now? Where does the time go?" Okay, no, it's actually Claudio Lopez, and how he meshes with Marinelli and Colombano. (Fun fact: there are more Argentines in MLS than Canadians.) The latter two didn't achieve as much last year, but the theory is that Lopez raises their game a lot, and frankly I'm on board. I like the direction of this team a lot, and while I don't think they're going to win the East, I think they and New England keep DC United from winning another Shield.
Oh. I have to decide whether Chicago or New York gets the last playoff spot. Hm.
The Red Bulls have two great players - one with serious upside, one with, well, not - and if MLS Cup were decided on the basis of best players whose last name starts with "A", then the Red Bulls would be in year two of a dynasty. We saw what happened when one or both of them isn't on the field. New York will go exactly as far as Jozy and Juan Pablo take them, and frankly it's asking a lot for Altidore to skip the Olympics just for your benefit, Red Bull fan, you selfish swine, you.
I like Dane Richards, and all, but the Austrians got him. The rest of the roster looks like a Claudio Reyna Farewell Tour. I'm just not seeing these guys troubling anybody. Look, if your hopes for the season rest on a variation of "Wait until Hunter Freeman gets back!" - you're not in a good position. Not to be too cruel about it, but Lopez and Gallardo are gonna KILL you.
I'm also not sold that Osorio is an upgrade over Bruce Arena. Paulo Wanchope, Red Bulls fans. Paulo Wanchope.
The real problem is and continues to be Giants Freaking Stadium. No championship team will ever, ever play in that stadium, mark my words.
Then there's Chicago, who I think will be on a mission. They're ticked off at their former coach, their new coach is part of the family as well as being a hard-driven leader of men, and they have new-found international popularity with Cootiemac Blanco.
Except, they just seem terrible to me. I've always had a knee-jerk irrational hatred of No-Neck, fine, but he's at least as overhyped as Beckham, and two years older. I think Beckham's a more legitimate offensive threat, especially given that Blanco's dives make Ruiz look like Gary Butcher in comparison. And when Blanco doesn't get the call, he leaps right up and berates the ref - taking himself out of the run of play, and helping make sure he doesn't get the next, perhaps legitimate, call. I think there's going to be a much more serious DP hangover in Bridgeview than in Carson, and I think there's going to be a lot less for the Fire to fall back on. What else is there to get excited about? Yeah, I like Justin Mapp as much as the next guy, but the next guy is Chad Barrett.
Perhaps with Wanchope out of the way, and hence the Fire playing with eleven guys, Blanco and Rolfe are going to roll through the league's weak defenses while the Fire's back line of...yeah, you see? Prideaux and Brown are living on time borrowed from Jim Curtin, although the camaraderie built through mutual disdain of Wilman Conde will help during those long summer months. Jon Busch was rejected by Columbus and Toronto, for pity's sake. I'm not saying bring back Zach Thornton, but if your team is looking jealously at Jon Conway, Bill Gaudette and Greg Sutton, something's amiss. I think they would put up a better fight in the playoffs than New York...but I don't see them making the playoffs. Shut up, that's not a contradiction.
Huh. Andy Herron's still in the league. How about that.
I don't know anyone who's giving Toronto the time of day, so I'm going to follow along the bandwagon here. MLS is so irritating about their popular teams playing hideously, and their good teams drawing like...well, okay, Houston and DC both draw well. There's actually a lot to like here - I would definitely buy tickets to watch Edu, Wynne, Cunningham, Samuel, Dunivant and Dichio. Except I couldn't, because everyone's bought the tickets already. Well, I'll just sit in the 500-seat visiting fan section. The Tories could get better a lot more quickly than people think - in other words, think Miami or Chivas USA, only with people watching. They're drafting really well, and despite last year's ridiculous roster turnover they seem to have found a core of good players.
The problem is, having to give jobs to Canadians who aren't good enough for Europe. This is roughly the same problem MLS had in 1996, with its Americans who weren't good enough for Europe. Now, if Toronto had Onstad and De Rosario, then I'd be on a very crowded red bandwagon, but they've got guys like Andrea Lombardo.
I get annoyed when people talk about Crew attendance. Of course attendance is terrible. It's a terrible team. If you put a winning team in Crew Stadium, you'll sell more tickets. It's not because of Ohio State or the Blue Jackets or the state fair or the quarter horse show - it's because the Crew are sadistically difficult to watch, with a roster crammed with fairly anonymous players.
Yes, Schelotto's great. Eric Wynalda really likes Robbie Rogers, and I'm a huge mark for Frankie Hejduk. If the Crew get within screaming distance of the playoffs, those three players will have to end up on the Best XI this year - I mean, they'd have to earn it, not slouch their way in like Christian Gomez did last year. I realize I shouldn't already be giving up on Eddie Gaven, since he can't even legally drink yet, but I can't for the life of me think of a reason why I shouldn't. He just has "I'm going to be traded to Toronto in June" written all over him.
Sigi Schmid's still burned about having been fired by the Galaxy while in first place. Well, good news, he won't have to worry about being fired while in first place. Say, what is Steve Sampson doing these days?
1. Houston (Shield)
2. Bizarro Chivas
4. Los Angeles
5. Either Colorado or Salt Lake, I forget
6. Either Colorado or Salt Lake, I forget
7. San Jose
1. DC United
2. New England
3. Kansas City
4. New York
Playoffs: DC over New York; New England over KC; then DC over New England. Los Angeles over Houston - you know what, this is an insane pick, don't even pay attention to it, I was asked for another site what I thought the Galaxy would do, and I said "MLS Cup," so now I'm stuck with it, I apologize - Dallas over BC, "Los Angeles" over Dallas. But it'll be close, and exciting.
MLS Cup: DC 3, "Los Angeles" 1
US Open Cup: New England or Dallas could make a serious run at - oh, it's an even-numbered year? Chicago
MVP: Landon Donovan. Same to you, buddy.