Otto Greule Jr
Through polling Sounder at Heart writers and a blogger from Seattle's biggest rivals all see the club in the MLS Cup Playoffs again.
Each of the teams at the top of the Western Conference lost talent to some level, but three clubs are seen as favorites in the Playoff hunt with each member of the voting panel putting them into the second season. Nine of the writers from Sounder at Heart and the blog managers of StumptownFooty, LAGConfidential, EightySixForever and RSLSoapbox all participated in the predictions poll and none had Seattle out of the Playoffs.
The SaH writers averaged a 2.33 place in the West while the rival bloggers had Seattle finishing as high as first (one went so far to say winning the Supporters' Shield) and as low as fourth. The other two both put the Sounders third.
With a heavily partisan crowd it is not a surprise that Seattle was most named as the team likely to win trophies. What may be a bit of a surprise is that Sporting Kansas City who lost Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara is picked second most often. One of the rival bloggers did not participate in this part of the poll. malcontentjake refused to pick an MLS Cup winner. A total of 10 different MLS sides were picked to win at least one major trophy in 2013. No rival blogger saw the Sounders winning the MLS Cup or CCL title, but one each picked Seattle to win the Shield and the Open Cup.
My own picks were the chalk for the Playoffs (Seattle, San Jose and LA in some order), Real Salt Lake and edging into that final play-in spot I have the Portland Timbers. The Houston Dynamo revamped their squad last midseason, have a great home record and are coached by a man who may belong on the MLS version of Rushmore so they are my pick for the MLS Cup. In season 18 I see the New York Red Bulls finally winning a trophy. They have the talent and a coach that understands the league. Their first Supporters' Shield will also feel like a disappointment. And while my Bold Prediction for the preview is a Seattle MLS Cup I actually think their roster is again built for a US Open Cup. The CCL is going to be tough this year, I'm one of those that put Tigres ahead of the rest. I will still watch the matches and cheer with you.
Outside of the picks of Seattle (of course) and Sporting KC there was a ton of trophy variety. Predicting the MVP was an even wider race. Eddie Johnson got two predictions as the MLS MVP, both from SaH writers, but he wasn't the only one with two votes. Boniek Garcia, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan also saw support from two participants (12 total predictors). Sporting KC had two players (Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong) get a single vote. Robbie Keane was a second LA player to get support. One person predicted a second straight win for Chris Wondolowski.
For all the significant players lost the writers here, and those at the biggest rivals' blogs, see Seattle as a strong team still capable of contending for trophies.