It’s been 2 years since the last Atlanta United game and all I can say is, MLS is BACK. It’s back, it finally is back. Real MLS, not fake CCL MLS. The weird roster rules with anonymous college graduates playing alongside World Cup stars,
As soccer fans in the US we need to admit something. Nobody likes soccer, people like baseball or football or basketball or hockey or the Bachelor or MMA or Nickleback, not soccer it’s not that cool. And within soccer MLS is the lowest rung of coolness, people like minor league baseball or D3 NCAA Football or the D-League or children’s hockey or Bachelor in Paradise or Bellator or cornhole, MLS is lame and they don’t like it. But, that’s why it’s good. If you can appreciate the brilliance of several Godoys or love seeing one of 30 or whatever former basketball players start in goal every weekend or enjoy watching the technical precision of a Will Bruin be tall and home something good happens goal or see a player who is destined for Europe do something incredible just to watch someone who went to college at Akron screw it up for him or just love that a lacrosse coach manages a team in the league and tells everyone they don’t know anything about soccer, then you know that MLS is perfect and you are in the right place.
Or, as Atlanta United legend Bobby Boswell put it:
A reminder as @MLS kicks off tomorrow, that this league gave this slow goofy kid from Florida a chance to play against some of the best to ever do it. So yeah, I’m a fan and I will be supporting the league. pic.twitter.com/7qlsfdxYCw— Bobby Boswell (@bobbyboswell) April 15, 2021
One of the more perfect parts of MLS is that it’s somewhat unpredictable. Ok, that’s not true, the league seems to uniquely favor home teams when compared to other leagues. It doesn’t matter how many Russell Teiberts you have, if a team traveled to your city the chances are good you’ll win. It’s because of flying coach or because of mountains or something. In any case, other than that nobody knows what’s going to happen in MLS. This is good because now we can predict what’s going to happen in MLS with perfect certainty.
Before that we’ll get to the comment o’ the week:
This is a good comment even though it didn’t make me cry or include the great suggestion of using baseball players. The old NWSL fantasy game limited the number of allocated players you could have and that did make the decisions more interesting. Enjoy the $100 scarfcoin you can use to build your fantasy roster shameus.
Anyway, look here’s my very brief MLS season preview. The West didn’t really get better and in fact got worse. Only LAFC and Portland really added better players, the Galaxy got a better manager but still have to hope Chicharito is good, the Sounders will be fine but it’ll be tough without Jordan Morris so they’ll probably play plenty of anti-soccer this year, the division is bad enough that I looked at Colorado getting Michael Barrios and said - oh, that’s going to help them a lot in the division this year, RSL traded their best player, the Dallas daycare will be inexplicable competitive even with Ryan Hollingshed playing winger, the Dynamo have a 63 year old man playing center back for them and the coach might hate their best player, Minnesota is going to be good... but like Western Conference good, San Jose added Eric Remedi, Kansas City is older and has somehow less depth than last year when they only played with 4 subs for most games as I understand it, the Vancouver Whitecaps should possibly be contracted, and Austin is going to score a lot and get scored on a lot and will probably get beat a lot until they can play at home. So here’s my Western Conference prediction:
2. Minnesota United
4-7: 4 way tie between Colorado, Seattle, Dallas, SKC
8-12: San Jose, Austin, LA Galaxy, RSL, Houston
In the East, well it’s a little different, because it’s a lot better. Atlanta United completely retooled and is awesome now, the team was so good everywhere else on the field that it decided it didn’t need to sign something like a fancy winger to a DP spot and signed a centerback to one, Montreal is awful and should be contracted, the Fire are the same they got a new coach or something and some new young South Americans but they’re the same, they’ll be OK, the Crew were solid last year and added depth at striker and got Kevin Molino so they’ll be good again, DC United will be better by virtue of the fact that Ben Olsen is finally mercifully gone and can no longer inflict the terror that someone who hates goals as much as he did on the rest of the league, Cincinnati is actually trying after two years of not trying because they opened a new stadium in a habit that MLS teams have that is pretty cynical at this point, Miami looks like they’re a good team but is run by people who thought that the Bay of Pigs invasion was probably a good plan, Nashville didn’t get better but didn’t get worse and that’s probably fine, the New England Gil-Bous will rely on Carles Gil to do everything for them again, NYCFC sent their best players to Cinci and Austin and didn’t do much to replace them or address their weaknesses, the Red Bulls got way better because Chris Armas isn’t the manager anymore but they did lose Kaku to free agency and didn’t do much to add better players so that’s sad, Orlando lost Daryl Dike to loan and he’ll probably be sold for $100,000,000 or something, Philly lost their best playmaker and best defender but it might not matter that much, and Toronto is old and managed by Chris Armas. In short, overall the conference probably got worse but is somehow still better than the West and will be more competitive.
1. No idea, literally no clue. There’s no clear best team in the conference.
2. 6 way tie between Atlanta, Columbus, Philly, NYRB, Orlando, Nashville
7-12. Miami, New England, NYCFC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Toronto
13. DC United
For fun, MLS got rid of interleague play this year so there’s no way to actually gauge if the East is better than the West other than me telling you it is. But here’s how the table would look if there was some sort of balanced schedule:
1. Someone from the East
2-8. Atlanta, Columbus, Philly, NYRB, Orlando, Nashville, LAFC, Minnesota
10-19. Miami, New England, NYCFC, Chicago, Cincinnati, Toronto, Seattle, Colorado, Dallas, SKC
20. DC United
21-25. San Jose, Austin, LA Galaxy, RSL, Houston
Last. Vancouver, Montreal
Golden Boot: Robert Beric
MVP: Alan Franco
Supporters Shield: Someone from the East
MLS Cup: New England somehow probably
So there it is, my prediction and my question: what do you think the table will look like at the end of 2021?