10 Bold Predictions For the 2015 MLS SeasonThe strike is averted, and MLS will have its 2015 season. Here are 10 predictions.
by Herb Scribner | Friday, March 06, 2015
The strike is averted, and MLS will have its 2015 season.
But this season is going to be more than normal. We’ve got two new expansion franchises, a new TV deal and swarm of successful international players entering the league, which will make this league something of a spectacle this season.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the 2015 season.
Orlando City will win the hearts, NYCFC will win on the field.
This is the story we’ve seen coming. Orlando City’s journey to MLS was built on organic growth from a hip, young, millennial fan base. The purple pride will surely be one of the most passionate fans this season, which will make TV viewers and casual fans get behind the club. It doesn’t hurt the team’s star player is Kaka, who has drawn an international and American fan base. His name recognition will turn the heads of casual fans and get them to watch.
New York City, meanwhile, will have the on-field success that Orlando will lack. Orlando’s expansion draft picks were subpar to say the least, while NYCFC gathered a squad that’s the right balance between veteran MLS players and foreign imports. With coach Jason Kreis at the helm, it’d be surprising if they didn’t make the playoffs and make a decent run towards the MLS Cup. Though it may be too soon for them to win the trophy — the MLS playoffs are, after all, a crapshoot — NYCFC will still have enough success on the field to solidify them as a powerhouse MLS club.
LA Galaxy will repeat as champions.
Much of what made the LA Galaxy successful in 2015 is still around, which will give the club an advantage this season and help them repeat as champion.
Landon Donovan will be a huge gap to fill, but Steven Gerrard is a good fit for the team who will help bring some production in the midfield. Gyasi Zardes will continue to mature and gain confidence, which will compensate for the aging Robbie Keane, who will probably continue to produce, at least for another season.
With the experience this team has, LA Galaxy have the right mix to make it to MLS Cup and walk away with the championship.
Real Salt Lake will continue to decline into mediocrity.
RSL was one of the greatest success stories in MLS history. The club’s run in the CONCACAF Champions League was a shot of fresh air for the North American soccer narrative, and showed MLS clubs could go toe-to-toe with the Mexican elite. Couple that with an MLS Cup victory and another appearance, the Salt Lake City side brought a new meaning of success to MLS.
But since coach Kreis left for NYCFC, RSL has dropped in quality — the possession style that made it famous has drifted away (they are no longer using the diamond midfield, after all) — and will continue to do so as the elite stars that made it so successful, like Kyle Beckerman, the Nick Rimando and Javier Morales, begin to age. And with coach Jeff Cassar being less than an inspiring coach who has brought in mediocre players to place the lost pieces, RSL will continue to drop down and be a bubble squad for the playoffs.
Seattle Sounders will come close, but be eliminated in the playoffs. Same for Toronto.
Seattle Sounders will make another run to playoffs, as they’ve done over the last few seasons. But with few additions in the offseason and another year added to Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey’s career, it’s hard to see the Sounders making a serious run for the MLS Cup. The team will make another run, sure, but won’t get through the ceiling into MLS Cup glory.
It’ll be a similar story for Toronto. Things will finally start to click for TFC, as Giovinco and Jozy Altidore seem to be a perfect pair upfront. The Reds should find their way to the playoffs, but they’ll drop short when their postseason inexperience is exposed.
San Jose will be the fun place to play, even though the team will struggle.
San Jose has got one of the best looking stadiums in the country now with Avaya stadim. And since it’s smack dab in sunny California, it’s going to be a hopping place for fans to go with a cool bar near the goal line. It’ll also be a nice story for the league, as another club gets a modern MLS stadium and raises the bar for others in the league.
Still, the Earthquakes haven’t had the greatest offseason and don’t look like they’ll compete with the powerhouses this year. So even though the Quakes’ new stadium will be a fun place to play, the team won’t find on-pitch success.
Another big name from Europe will move to MLS.
Is it Mario Balotelli? Is it Xavi? Rumors continue to climb that an international star will come to MLS, and it’d be surprising not to see another do so this year. Giovinco, Villa and Kaka moving show MLS is a place to head even if it’s not retirement time.
During the summer transfer window, another big name will enter the league and continue to the build the narrative of MLS being a spot for young and old players alike to compete.
Kaka will be the most successful of MLS imports.
Who will lead the way as far as former European stars go? Will it be Kaka? Lampard? Villa? Giovinco?
Kaka, hands down, will make the most impact. His slick style of play will fit well with this league, as long as he remains healthy. And given the rest of the Orlando squad is average at best, Kaka’s efforts will be the most valued across the league, too.
Jurgen Klinsmann will make more anti-MLS comments.
The United States Men’s National Team coach will continue to hammer down on MLS this season, likely around the Gold Cup when flares rise over how USMNT takes players away from the league. This has continued to be an issue for the league, where the head coach of the country’s national team speaks out against the domestic league, or, at the very least makes things difficult. As Klinsmann has gotten more comfortable in his role, he’s made more remarks against the league and its players. And there doesn’t seem to be any signs of slowing down.
New England will announce a new stadium.
Pressure from every other team in the league will force New England to finally make a decision about a new stadium. The location of the stadium may not be solidified, but Robert Kraft and the rest of the Revs owners will announce that it’s time they join the modern era of MLS with their own stadium.
Sacramento and Minnesota expansion clubs will be announced.
Come on, how could they not? Sacramento will be announced as an expansion club first and they’ll continue to inspire fans much in the same way Orlando has.
And, by the end of the year, one of the two warring bids in Minnesota will win out and bring MLS to the state.