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Are we headed for the most unpredictable MLS season yet?

Feb 28, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT

Los Angeles Galaxy v Portland Timbers Getty Images

First Kick is on Saturday, and I have no idea what’s going to happen during the 2013 campaign. I mean, sure, I have some ideas, some vague notions that I feel reasonably confident might come off, but it’s a lot of grasping around in the dark. And you know what? Anyone who tells you differently is lying.

Think about it: How many teams are dramatically different from the end of last season? The New York Red Bulls turned over basically its entire roster, save Thierry Henry who is already complaining about losing Kenny Cooper. (Oh, the irony.) Chivas USA went further, jettisoning pretty much anyone without Mexican heritage. (For the record, I love the idea — as Alexi Lalas says, a plan, even a bad one, is better than no plan at all — but it makes the club remarkably unpredictable.) Real Salt Lake, one of the perennial fixtures at the top of the Western Conference, is working through some issues. The Columbus Crew should be fun with Frederico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta, but who knows how the duo will hold up through the rigors of the long season. Caleb Porter showed up, went to town on the Timbers roster, and isn’t done. (Playoffs, yo. Mark it down.)

(MORE: full roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

The Vancouver Whitecaps will only go as far as Jay DeMerit takes them, and his injury concerns are, well, concerning. Toronto FC is playing Where in the World Is Our Coach, but could be surprising when Ryan Nelsen arrives. (Or, of course, they could be terrible.) The Seattle Sounders find themselves without Fredy Montero and needing a performance in the playoffs. That will certainly add pressure. The Los Angeles Galaxy, well, who the heck knows. We know the team will be good — definitely, maybe — but how good is up in the air and largely on Mr. Cambodia. And then there’s Freddy Adu, Chris Wondolowski, and Carlos Ruiz, all with things to prove or not prove or whatever have you.

And that paragraph above is what makes MLS great. Sure, the quality of play could be better, and the referees could improve, and you wonderful readers could think of one hundred and one things to improve in the next five minutes, but you gotta love the league for the fun of it. Anything could happen. That’s something worth celebrating, I think.

  1. charliej11 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    It is absolutely worth celebrating, I was listening to the start of Tim Howard on a podcast. “If we can steal some points, then maybe we can go somewhere…” ( paraphrased ).

    But he knew he wasn’t going anywhere, they are going to finish like they do every year.
    Two middle level teams playing on ESPN last week. I thought they were in slow motion. There was ZERO intensity.

    SBI has the Sounders 1st currently, SI has them 6th. If Man U, who is coasting to its 20th title in about 25 years, wasn’t ranked 1st, maybe 2nd, in preseason that would be international news.

    MLS is a great league, the wonderful readers who can think of 101 things to improve in 5 minutes…..they are whiners and I wish they would go follow other leagues. Seriously.

  2. pensfan603 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    The offseason moves every team makes every year and it always seems like no team every really comes out to much of a favorite, i love it vs the epls of the world. You could say alot of it is because of the MLS spins this stuff but ya very interesting.

  3. mkbryant3 - Feb 28, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Every year I get more and more stoked for MLS.

    I wonder what Jeff Baicher is doing these days.

    • Steve Davis - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:14 PM

      Whoa! Somebody went way MLS Mitre ball old school on us; Jeff freakin’ Baicher.

      • joeyt360 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        RASNoD!

        (Loved hearing his name on the Spanish language broadcasts.)

  4. east96st - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I wish more of the critics of MLS would actually come out to a few of the games. Is it Barca Vs Real Madrid? Of course not. But attending that match isn’t in most of our travel budgets. MLS is good, competitive soccer and, for me, soccer is always so much better when you’re there. I’m guessing that ten years from now, a lot of the critics will be on season ticket wait lists wondering why they didn’t come out and enjoy the game in person sooner.

  5. joeyt360 - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    MLS has usually been pretty unpredictable in this way, the last couple of seasons, where you expected the Galaxy pretty much out of the gate, were kind of an aberration (though I have been wondering if we were in a new era, where more of the big spenders would come in as preseason favorites more of the time).

  6. danielofthedale - Feb 28, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    I totally agree! LA, Seattle, and RSL are all weaker this year than last. San Jose is the walking wounded. Portland has had major roster turnover. Chivas is well Chivas so who knows what they will do. Out east, New York is working in a lot of new people and most of them are not as good as the ones the lost. How will SKC handle lossing Espinoza and can Bennie replace Zusi’s midfield production while Zusi tries to replace what Kia did on the forward line? Houston and DC pretty much stood pat, not sure Carols Ruiz will last the season in the capitol. What will be coming out of the Great White North?

    Then throw in the fact that its a World Cup Qualifying year and Gold Cup summer so many of the leagues best teams will be missing some of their best players for long stretches of time and it just adds even uncertainty to the season too.

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