2015 MLS predictions: Cup winners? MVP? Lampard or Gerrard? Kaka or Giovinco?
It’s prediction time! With the 2015 Major League Soccer season kicking off this week, we’ll tell you who wins every major trophy, award and how many goals some of the league’s biggest newcomers will score.
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U.S. Open Cup winners
Joe Prince-Wright: Seattle Sounders. They love an Open Cup, don’t they?
Andy Edwards: FC Dallas. Semifinalists in 2014, it’s Oscar Pareja’s easiest route to a trophy in an unbelievably tough Western Conference.
Nicholas Mendola: New England Revolution.
Kyle Lynch: Seattle Sounders have dominated the Open Cup as of late, and they can do it again.
Duncan Day: Portland Timbers. They’ve made a few promising international acquisitions to put them in better playoff position, and I think Caleb Porter will see ideal result outside of league play.
Kyle Bonn: LA Galaxy.
Supporters’ Shield winners
JPW: LA Galaxy. Arena’s boys will kick on after Gerrard’s arrival.
Edwards: Seattle Sounders. Full season No. 2 for Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey will (somehow) be better than the first.
Mendola: New England Revolution, though look out for Toronto if they get steady play between the sticks.
Lynch: LA Galaxy. They won the league last season and aren’t looking back.
Day: NYCFC. Once Lampard comes to town I expect a surge from these guys. They have the capability to strengthen their squad before the window closes if the need dictates.
Bonn: Seattle Sounders are the favorite here, and with each team owning up to a heavy weakness, they’re the good pick.
MLS Cup matchup and winners
JPW: LA Galaxy vs. Toronto. Toronto to win. Bold statement, I know, but I’m feeling it.
Edwards: Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew SC. Gregg Berhalter’s side is the most complete team in the Eastern Conference, capable of winning home-field advantage in the playoffs, and they’ll have learned from last year’s disappointment.
Mendola: Toronto FC vs. LA Galaxy, because the fix is in!
Lynch: LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution. The Cup goes back to Hollywood.
Day: LA Galaxy 2-3 Orlando City SC: Orlando makes its way into the East finals against Toronto and manages a slim-margined win. Kaka really proves his worth in the playoffs.
Bonn: Toronto may not win the Supporters’ Shield, and they may not even get a #1 seed, but come playoff time they’ll have had a full season to play together, and will likely be a team geared for a playoff setting. It’s why I picked them in the Open Cup, and why I’ll pick them to get here. Toronto and Seattle, and the Sounders win it.
JPW: Sebastian Giovinco. How they managed to get the “Atomic Ant” I don’t know, but I’m glad they did. Wonderful talent.
Edwards: Obafemi Martins. Dempsey will miss a month for the Gold Cup, and Martins showed last year he can carry the team when he’s not around.
Mendola: Michael Bradley. The new TFC captain has a wealth of talent in front of him and a better defense than you think.
Lynch: David Villa. The Spanish legend leads New York City to the playoffs.
Day: Sebastian Giovinco. I believe he has the opportunity to be the most dangerous player in MLS due to his combination of pace and skill. He will produce a fair amount of both goals and assists, and that’s where he will set himself apart in the MVP race.
Bonn: Giovinco. What a signing.
Newcomer of the Year (including returning MLSers)
JPW: Jozy Altidore. Expect the big man to find the back of the net regularly. Man, I’m bullish on Toronto this year, huh?
Edwards: Jozy Altidore. Once we put our USMNTers-should-be-in-Europe biases aside, we all agree he’s going to score a hundred goals this season, right?
Mendola: David Villa. It almost feels like cheating to write this, as he’ll be going well with Mix Diskerud and company before he even gets the aid of Frank Lampard.
Lynch: David Villa. Even though he’s 33, the MLS rookie will light it up.
Day: Octavio Rivero of Vancouver Whitecaps. Goal leader of the Chilean Primera Division last year, he has buried 20 goals in his past 33 appearances. With Kenny Miller gone for good, Rivero looks to be the new target man for the Caps, whose midfield should mesh well with the Uruguayan.
Bonn: Frank Lampard is going to be monstrous for NYCFC, because he clearly has a ton left in the tank, but he’s only got a half year to make an impact. If Giovinco’s the MVP, he’d obviously qualify here as well.
Golden Boot winner
JPW: David Villa. I think the Spanish veteran will rip MLS defenses apart. Clinical and from the Robbie Keane school of finishing.
Edwards: Obafemi Martins.
Mendola: Josmer Volmy Altidore.
Lynch: Villa, Villa, Villa. As you can see, I think David Villa is going to be good. Really good.
Day: David Villa. The best forward talent in MLS, Villa scored a solid amount of goals last year (15 in all competitions) with Atletico Madrid as the No.2 man to Diego Costa, so a big goal tally in MLS should naturally suit the Spaniard.
Bonn: Dom Dwyer.
Who’s the Lee Nguyen-esque (veteran) Breakout Player of the year?
JPW: Nat Borchers leading Portland’s defense. I expect the Timbers to have an impressive season.
Edwards: Bernardo Anor. Quick — tell me what team Anor plays for. If you don’t know now, you will be April or May. Can’t believe Berhalter let him go.
Mendola: Sam Cronin, Colorado Rapids.
Day: Benny Feilhaber. Sporting KC have a good squad as usual, and Dom Dwyer will likely serve as the team’s main impact player still, while Feilhaber will build off one of his best seasons in MLS on a similar but smaller scale than Nguyen did.
Bonn: I’m not so sure this is a breakout, but I love Jamison Olave back at RSL. Their new-look defense is well put together.
Who’s the Gyasi Zardes-esque (young) Breakout Player of the year?
JPW: Umm…Tony Taylor for NYCFC?
Edwards: Luis Gil. We’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for Gil to have the breakout year. This is finally it.
Mendola: Thomas McNamara of New York City FC. He showed plenty of promise for Chivas USA last season before a crushing injury. If he can get get on and stay on the field in NYC, he will shine.
Lynch: Erik Palmer-Brown. The 17 year old is one of America’s brightest prospects, and this could be the year he becomes a household name in MLS.
Day: Patrick Mullins, NYCFC. The former New England Revolution players showed great flashes of skills for the Revs. Mullins could provide an immediate impact, especially with the service of Mix and Lampard.
Bonn: Love me some Khiry Shelton.
Cascadia Cup winners
JPW: Seattle Sounders will just edge out Portland and Vancouver. Expect it to be a tight race up in the Pacific Northwest.
Edwards: Vancouver Whitecaps.
Mendola: Vancouver Whitecaps. Carl Robinson is doing things, man.
Lynch: It’s a toss-up, but I’m taking the Portland Timbers.
Day: The Whitecaps are set to extend their recent streak and success against Seattle and Portland, but may not enjoy a better league finish than both the Timbers and Sounders.
Bonn: This is going to be FUN this year…but when isn’t it? I’m going with the boring pick of Seattle simply because of my pick to get them the Shield, but it will be close. The other two teams are very much improved.
Better first six months in MLS — Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard?
JPW: Steven Gerrard. He can slot into LA seamlessly, while NYCFC will hit plenty of speed bumps along the way during their inaugural season as a club.
Edwards: Lampard. His team will need him to do more from day one, and I still don’t know how Gerrard is going to fit into that Galaxy team.
Mendola: Lampard. Honestly, it feels like Lampard has more left in the tank, or at least in his legs. Maybe it all comes down to who finishes more, Nemec and Villa or Keane and Zardes, but I think Lampard is better at this stage in his career.
Lynch: Lampard’s great form for Manchester City carries over to New York City.
Day: Both will be coming off Premier League seasons, so I wouldn’t expect very quick impacts, but over the course of the year, I see David Villa and Lampard combining to create the best attacking combo in MLS, with the Chelsea great enjoying top-notch performances.
Bonn: Gerrard is beyond his best and Lampard is looking sluggish down the stretch after a full year in the Premier League. Father Time has stricken both, but Lampard still has more left in the tank. I like him more once he returns from England.
Greater points tally — New York City FC or Orlando City SC?
JPW: New York City FC. Having the likes of David Villa, Frank Lampard and Mix around will win you plenty of points. I’m pretty confident Jason Kreis’ boys will make the playoffs.
Edwards: New York City FC. The trust I have in Jason Kreis outweighs the questions that come with the Frank Lampard saga, but only by a little.
Mendola: New York City FC. And they’ll make the playoffs.
Lynch: New York City FC. I fully expect to see a playoff game at Yankee Stadium this season.
Day: New York City FC has the greater point tally. I don’t think Orlando will have that flashy of a regular season, but in the playoffs, their Designated Players will start to flourish in critical situations.
Bonn: Liking NYCFC. They may be somewhat even through the first half, but Lampard will make a significant difference.
[ WATCH: Diskerud hits a screamer from 20 yards ]
Will Toronto FC (finally) make the playoffs?
JPW: Yes. 100 percent. Gulp… I hope I’m right but with players like they have, it’s difficult to see them not making it and going deep.
Edwards: No. 3 seed behind the Crew and Revolution.
Lynch: This is the year, Toronto. Jozy Altidore scores some big goals and Toronto FC find themselves in the postseason.
Day: Toronto is poised to be a big contender in the East because I think the additions of Jozy and Giovinco will also help spur Bradley’s play, making for an especially dynamic group.
Bonn: Absolutely. They’re much better put together this time around. They might sputter early, but they’ll get it together.
Jozy Altidore — over/under Jermain Defoe’s 2014 goal tally (11 in 19 games)?
JPW: Over. Jozy will rip it up.
Edwards: Over, by nearly 10.
Mendola: Over, if only because Giovinco and Bradley will be in Toronto all year, and Defoe had to deal with the World Cup absence of Bradley.
Lynch: Jozy Altidore finds the form that made him one of America’s most feared strikers, and scores at least 15 times for Toronto.
Day: Very close if you’re looking at the number goals per game. But Jozy will probably play a few more games, and I expect his tally to be around 20.
Bonn: Over. In the first half of the season.
More goals/assists combined — Kaka or Sebastian Giovinco?
JPW: Giovinco. I still think he’s an incredible addition and will become a star of MLS for many years to come.
Edwards: Kaka. Caveat: If healthy, Kaka is the 2015 MVP. Let’s not forget this is the 2007 World Player of the Year, arguably the best player in the world for a time.
Mendola: Giovinco. Sorry, Kaka fans, but as bizarre as this sounds he has far more to prove this season.
Lynch: Giovinco is teaming up with Michael Bradley in the midfield and Jozy Altidore up top, while Kaka is walking into a brand new club. I’ll take the Italian, and look for Giovinco’s name to be near the top of the MVP discussion as well.
Day: Giovinco. The ex-Juve man will work well with Jozy and Bradley, while Kaka will tend to be more of a one-man show.
Bonn: Giovinco. Kaka is nice but, at his age, nowhere near a Sebastian Giovinco in his prime.
Who misses the playoffs in the West?
JPW: Colorado, Vancouver, FC Dallas and San Jose.
Edwards: Colorado, San Jose, Houston and Real Salt Lake.
Mendola: San Jose, Colorado, Portland and Houston.
Lynch: San Jose, Colorado, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver.
Day: San Jose, Houston, FC Dallas and Colorado.
Bonn: San Jose, Vancouver, Colorado, Portland. Tough pick here. Will be very, very tight.
First head coach fired
JPW: Tough to say. I’m thinking Colorado continue to struggle and Pablo Mastreoni will be out. Legend of MLS, but not sure the Rapids will flourish once again this season.
Edwards: Frank Klopas in Montreal. Joey Saputo has the track record for having a quick trigger finger, and if Klopas don’t make the playoffs in the East, he’s out.
Mendola: Caleb Porter. I’m kidding, because I don’t think Portland will pull the trigger during another disappointing year. i think there’s something to be said for no one being fired this season. Lot of new faces, lot of established ones. Jesse Marsch?
Lynch: Ben Olsen’s entire playing and coaching career has been in the nation’s capital, but if DC United start slow, he could be the first to go.
Day: We’ll see if any team sinks way below expectations that warrants a quickly-decided firing, but by the end of the season, it may be Fire coach Frank Yallop under scrutiny.
Bonn: Frank Klopas is going to struggle at Montreal, and I think he’s the first to go.