The MLS season is about to be (or is depending on when you read this) upon us, and for the fast growing league this season looks to be a great one. So many teams are so close to each other in terms of quality or lack thereof, so the matches are sure to be even more exciting than they were already.
Here are my predictions for the MLS season.
Most Improved Player: DeAndre Yedlin - Seattle's first homegrown player has already earned a cap for the USMNT at the tender age of 20 and looks to be, for the moment, the United States best talent for the future. He had an amazing season for the Sounders last year and earned himself Rookie of the Year honors. I see the 2014 MLS season as his statement season. This is the season he tells the rest of the league (and possibly the world) "Here I am, I'm not going anywhere" and if he can improve on his already great rookie season with an even better sophomore season, Yedlin will start to turn heads for more than his hair.
Flop Player: Jermain Defoe - One of the new "big three" formed in Toronto, Defoe carries the expectation of proven scorer in the Premier League coming to MLS to dominate the league. But Defoe isn't the player he used to be, and his age will catch up to him with the rigorous travel schedule MLS has. Defoe will not get the pass that MLS favorite Dwayne De Rosario and American favorite Michael Bradley will get if he plays bad. I think Defoe knows this, but I still believe he will not live up to the hype.
Surprise Team: Real Salt Lake - Salt Lake had a great season last year, no one can deny that. Coming within a few missed PK's of MLS supremacy. But I for one would not be surprised to see them make it back to the biggest stage in MLS. RSL is the team full of players you can't name, at least I can't, but that doesn't matter. The fight I saw in that RSL team last season was something I hadn't seen in a team in a long time in MLS. They will be hungry to make it back to the final.
MLS MVP: Clint Dempsey - If any of you know me or have watched any of the videos I make on YouTube to talk about soccer (check out the channel) you will know I am a huge critic of Dempsey. In my opinion, he is a bit overrated. Not good enough to be named the "best player on the national team" while I do think he is the best American player out there. Dempsey will come into the season with a point to prove. After this move from Tottenham to Seattle he did virtually nothing. Most games I forgot he was on the field and I think a lot of MLS fans did too. The thing I will say I admire most about Dempsey is the chip on his shoulder he plays with. Just when you think he is "done" he will do something that will make you pause. I will still be a critic, regardless of if he wins MVP or not as I do not judge him on club performances anymore. But I can't see past the best American player making a statement out of this season and winning MVP.
MLS Cup Champion: Portland Timbers - The Timbers come into the season with not TOO much hype. We all know what they are capable of, they were on a tear last season and had a slip up in the playoffs, but this season I think they will refuse to take their foot off the pedal. They have the talent, they have the fan support, and they have the hunger. Portland will bring the MLS Cup to the Pacific Northwest, and they will probably rub it in the faces of the Sounders.
What do you think? Are you excited for this MLS season? What are your predictions for the "big" categories?