2017 Staff Predictions

2017! A new dawn in Major League Soccer is upon us! With the dawn comes a new chance to make the most of the year. Each team will fight for their place at the table, some finishing higher or lower than expected, and a select few players will outshine their competition. The beginning of the year is the time for pundits and fans alike to start predicting the outcomes of the season based on their knowledge or hopes.

Here at Total MLS, we are no different. Over the past couple of weeks, we have deliberated and voted on who we think will accomplish what, and with that our justifications for our choices. Below, you will find the predicted MLS Cup winner, Supporters Shield winner, domestic cup winners, various individual accolades, as well as a certain team we feel will bring up the rear. We do not claim to be Nostradamus, but do not be surprised if at the end of the year, we pull this article up to either be smug about our correct decisions, or to be ashamed of how terrible we are as proclaimed experts of the league.
 

MLS Cup Winner: Toronto FC

The majority of the group chose in favor of the Canadians, with TFC being the East’s best team in 2016. Reaching the final with only one step to progress, the choice seems simple to bet on Red. MLSE made major strides this offseason to remedy the issues they felt were needed in order to jump the final hurdle. The question remains though: will these short term solutions be the answer, or will the shot miss? (5 votes)

(Honorable mentions: FC Dallas (2), NYCFC, Montreal Impact, Seattle Sounders, LA Galaxy)

Supporters Shield Winner: Toronto FC

The group is predicting a double? Last year, TFC finished 5th overall, seven points behind shield winners FC Dallas. The team’s midseason form was nearly unstoppable between July and September, but nearing the post season saw them bleeding points with four draws in their last six matches. If they can secure wins in the important matches this year, they may very well finish top of the table. (5 votes)

(Honorable mentions: FC Dallas (4), NYCFC, Red Bulls)

US Open Cup Winner: Chicago Fire

In a shock result, last year’s worst team overall has been chosen to win this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Trophy. If history has taught us anything, however, is that the underdogs in this tournament can not be counted out. D.C. United in 2013 lifted the trophy, and the Philadelphia Union have reached two finals in the last three years despite not making the playoffs in either of those years. The Fire have beefed up their squad this offseason, so time will tell if Chicago can claim another one for the cabinet. (3 votes)

(Honorable mentions: Seattle Sounders (2), Sporting Kansas City (2), Orlando City SC, D.C. United, Atlanta United, LA Galaxy)

Canadian Championship Winner: Toronto FC

It seems Total MLS is predicting TFC to win the treble! Either that, or the group believes heavily that the club will walk away this year with something to show for their efforts. Even though the Canadian Championship is contested by a much smaller list of participants than the U.S. Open Cup, there is no doubt that the significance is just as meaningful to the few clubs that participate. (8 votes)

(Honorable mention: Montreal Impact (2))

League MVP: Sebastian Giovinco

Toronto’s own personal highlight reel has been nominated as 2017’s predicted MVP, likely based on his play over the past two years. His performances were so impressive, China’s clubs were rumored to have called the attacker offering lucrative contract deals, only for him to decline such things and reiterating his comfort in Toronto. Surely, he will continue his trademark performances. (6 votes)

(Honorable mentions: Jordan Morris, Ignacio Piatti, Kevin Molino, Nicolas Lodeiro)

Golden Boot: Bradley Wright-Phillips

The New York Red Bull attacking core has remained relatively unchanged this offseason. This is a good thing, as the club finished 2nd overall in goals scored, eclipsed only by a single goal to their neighbors across the river. BWP was the golden boot winner last year as well, beating out his rival David Villa by a single goal as well. (3 votes)

(Honorable mentions: Sebastian Giovinco (2), David Villa, Nemanja Nikolic, Cyle Larin, Patrick Mullins, Fredy Montero)

Rookie of the Year: Ian Harkes

Harkes, the D.C. United Homegrown, has quite the impressive highlight reel in college. In addition, the young prodigy has been awarded the All-ACC Academic team three times, All-ACC Freshman, All-ACC 2nd team, 1st team, All-Tournament team, and a slew of other awards. In addition he rose through the D.C. United Academy prior to attending Wake Forest, and has lived under the tutelage of his father, American Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and former D.C. United player, Jon Harkes. With a reputation and a pedigree behind his name, expectations are high for Ian. (6 votes)

(Honorable mentions: Jackson Yueill (2), Jonathan Lewis, Zeiko Lewis)

Newcomer of the Year: Nemanja Nikolic

Shortly after scoring a goal in the UEFA Champions League with Legia Warsaw in an 8-4 thrashing against Borussia Dortmund, Nikolic’s name was swirling in the Major League Soccer rumor mill - followed promptly by confirmations - that the Chicago Fire had acquired Nikolic for the 2017 year. Nikolic brings with him an exceptional resume that shines brighter than others, having a goal scoring record of over one goal every two matches he has played for the Polish side. Given Chicago’s inability to score (barely 1.35 goals per game and the worst GPG in the Eastern Conference), his contributions could find points on the table the Fire never could have found without him in 2017. (3 votes)

(Honorable Mentions: Romain Alessandrini (2), Josef Martinez, Bashkim Kadrii, Albert Rusnak, Cristian Colman)

Worst team: Minnesota United FC

One would feel that a fresh, new expansion team would get a short deal when deciding on who would finish near the bottom of the table. It’s a fair assessment. Even still, the hiring of Adrian Heath, followed by the signings of many NASL-caliber players, thrown into what is arguably the more difficult of the two conferences, and given the herculean task of playing in a shared stadium with a reputable college that requires as much if not more field time than the club; the odds are heavily stacked against MNUFC at least for the time being. (6 votes)

(Dishonorable mentions: Vancouver Whitecaps (2), Columbus Crew, New England Revolution)