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DC Hope Wizards Break Their Bad Spell

I believe this is the earliest in the schedule that any team in MLS history has actually faced a true must win match. At 0-5 and with the expanded league where only half the teams make the playoffs, DC certainly has that playoff sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, so points are imperative immediately. Not only that, but another cruel home loss where the team plays decently and falls apart at the end and DC would almost certainly enter a death spiral that could easily see them surpass the 2001 Revs (0-6) and the 1999 Wizards (0-7 shootout aided) season opening losing streaks.

Everything out of the team this week has been along the lines of “unacceptable” “we’ve got to do better”, “must find a way to win” etc. And really there’s nothing else they can say given the terrible funk this team is in. But, if they ever want those brutal postgame questions to stop, they’ve simply got to put it out there on the field and win. Simple, I know.

Now, on the bright side, they have played decently enough to win (or at least not lose) all of their home matches this year. If NE can play like crap, get two players sent off, and still blatantly steal a point like they did last week against Dallas, then DC deserves more from their home efforts this year. However, the one thing different between DC United and the Revs is that Nicol’s boys play like their lives depend on it, while a lot of United players really just seem to be going through the motions.

Obviously, that apathetic attitude has to end before the wins will come. Now, Onalfo was fired by Vermes pure and simple because he felt Onalfo couldn’t get the team to play with enough intensity often enough. Of course, Vermes did not do any better last year when he took over, and then stacked the team he’s coaching this year with a lot of new talent, but the point remains that if Onalfo ever had a match he wanted his team to play intense, it’s this one. Plus, if the thought of another embarrassing performance in front of their fans as well as another round of microphones in their faces asking why they stink isn’t enough for this team to dig deep and win, then United’s season is well and truly over. But, I think this match is the one where they pull it together and something good goes United’s way early so the tide swings in their favor for once.

For one thing, it seems Onalfo has actually found a formation that will work in that 4-5-1 and a set of players that can play the roles well enough to find success with a bit of focus and attention on the details to become more consistent. With Cristman as the lone forward and Quaranta, Najar, and Castillo taking turns making dagger runs forward to partner with him United did generate some very nice offensive plays and chances. Of course, they missed them, but that can’t continue. Roughly one of every ten shots goes in, this isn’t hockey with tiny openings to shoot for, any shot hit in anger toward a corner will find net soon enough. With Cristman’s aggressive turn and fire attitude, he’ll catch someone off guard and score or lay off for a bomb from Santino.

Plus, the five man midfield allows Simms and the very tidy Barklage to not only clean up trouble in front of the obviously shaky defense, they can each get forward from time to time as well like Clyde the glide did on that early header that really needed to be closer to a corner of the net (and not hit off his shoulder for that matter). Barklage too has a nice sense of when to get forward and both Simms and Barklage have nice shots from distance.

And the offense must click and take the pressure off the defense as they have shown they simply cannot play shutout ball. Granted, they shouldn’t have to, but they also shouldn’t be giving up the dewy soft goals they’ve been giving up either. Pena and Talley were decent in the center if a bit unlucky on both NY’s goals, Graye was much more solid than his Open Cup debacle, so as long as Wallace can find it in himself to actually concentrate and, you know, defend his position, DC should be in good shape.

The defense has to play light’s out too because Perkins is in an unholy bad place and obviously needs to be protected. I usually don’t talk about keepers because they’re usually pretty consistent and the defense in front of them is more important to the result than their efforts (outside of the odd blinder where they stone a team and win the game all by themselves, which is totally a crapshoot to predict). But, Perkins is actively finding ways to lose games for DC and clearly that has to stop or else it is be time to play Hamid.

Interestingly, DC’s formation will give them a tactical advantage over KC too. The Wiz play a similar formation, but they actually play more of a 4-3-3 where Wolff and Ryan Smith don’t really defend much on the outsides, so their three man midfield will have a lot more work to do on a much wider field than what they’re used to at home. Plus, with Arnaud out due to a sketchy red card, their captain and most important two-way player in that midfield is out for this match.

KC only has five goals in five games on the season, and they hung four of them on DC in the opener, and they have been shutout in their last three matches. Houston blanked them last week in a 3-0 loss and Seattle got a last second goal to skunk them in Seattle, with a 0-0 tie with LA at home sandwiched in between. So, they clearly have not got their offense sorted out either and as mentioned, losing Arnaud won’t help that at all, although the likely insertion of that beast Rocastle does give one pause. That is one bad dude and he looks like he’d pull someone’s arms out if he doesn’t get his way. That stare down of Mullan was classic. Mullan is as feisty as they come and he looked like he a kid who yanked the wrong chain desperately looking for an escape hatch once Rocastle turned on him last week.

However, KC’s defense is very good, despite the 3-0 loss last week. They’d only given up 1 goal in their first four matches, that last second winner by Fucito in Seattle, before getting dismantled in Houston. But, the early red card to Arnaud changed that match and then Vermes going for it with three in the back sealed their fate as Oduro flapped all over them and set up all the goals.

KC’s defense consisting of Harrinton, who scored the winner the last time KC won in RFK btw, second year Besler, converted Honduran midfielder Espinoza, and the new Colombian Escobar have been a rock solid back four while Conrad is out and there’s no reason to think they’ll be any different in RFK unless DC gets the benefit of an early red card. In addition, Nielsen has been the most impressive goalie this year and that includes Ricketts. He’s still the only keeper to keep red hot LA off the scoreboard this year. He has regularly come up with huge stops and made everyone forget the name Kevin Hartman a lot quicker than anyone could expect.

The matchups in this one are a bit tricky as the formations don’t really line up too well, but with both teams jamming up the central midfield, the key to the match will likely be who controls the wings. If Quaranta and Castillo keep Espinoza and Harrington pinned back, and even better force Wolff and Smith back farther than they would want to go, the KC’s attack will suffer as Kamara is starved of the ball. Even if KC goes to lumping the ball over the top for Kamara to knock down, there won’t be anyone there to collect his layoffs (hopefully). If DC controls the ball well enough and Cristman continues to fire away like loose cannon, something good has to happen. I’m sure of it.

The intangibles go DC’s way too. KC is playing their second away game in four days, while DC is home for their second straight match over the same span. Plus, KC has never really had much success in RFK, overall DC is 11-4-4 over the Wizards in RFK, and 5-1 since 2005, including that absolute steal of a win late last year when Arnaud missed three sitters allowing Emilio to find the winner in an ugly 1-0 match in one Vermes’ first games in charge after firing Onalfo. KC’s only success here in the last five years was that brutal loss in the home opener in 2007, the only blemish on United’s success over the Wizards in RFK lately. But, then again DC owned the Metros up until a few days ago, so maybe the soccer gods have abandoned DC.

Now, this game has 0-0 written all over it if it were a normal early season matchup of normal teams, but this is not a typical match for DC. They should be beyond desperate and should be peppering KC’s goal, and Onalfo should have United wound up like a bunch of cymbal clapping monkeys. For KC, there’s a lot less at stake, it’s their second straight road match without their best player in the lineup before they head home for two in a row on their baseball field. They can chalk this one up and move on with their lives easily.

Of course, now that I’ve created this whole fantasy world where DC is all but a lock to win and the order of the universe will be restored to its proper order (at least for one week), the team can’t possibly go out and lay another egg in front of their diehard supporters. Surely, they can’t possibly keep losing at home? I mean, DC will win a game, won’t they?

The State of United: Nowhere to Go But Up

That painful performance was about as bad a result as possible given the brutality of the scoreline, the ineptitude of the players (that apparently had Onalfo as befuddled as the fans given his expression throughout the game), the head scratching lineup decisions, the loss of Simms for at least a month, the hammering of the confidence of two young players in particular, but also of an entire team and organization desperately hoping that it had put the past two dismal years behind them.

Well, after two years of overpriced talent underperforming, especially a defense worse than a tissue paper hammock, this was supposed to be the year DC returned to simple competence as well as making themselves a much tougher team to beat. Obviously, the horrific 0-4 mauling in KC showed that DC is clearly putting off simple competence for at least a week. So, the question remains if this just a mulligan off the first tee or are DC truly weekend duffers?

Now first off, it was just one game in bad conditions with some key players out and a shuffled lineup that was forced by an unusually bad situation. Plus, every team in the league will drop a clanger like this one sometime in the season, and some might argue it’s better to get it out of the way early. After all, DC showed they could play with a more than competent pre-season where they won the Carolina Cup, beat a Mexican team in Mexico, and in fact only lost one time due to an own goal.

But then again, DC struggled to score at all in pre-season outside of beating the crap out of teenagers and Santos Laguna’s reserve side, as well as getting all five goals by Moreno in the Carolina Cup largely against RSL’s reserves, an equally pitiful TFC side, and against a USL side that had only been practicing for about a week. So, there is reason to cast aspersions on those results if one were so inclined.

Then, there was DC’s defense that looked rock solid all pre-season, only giving up a couple goals here and there, mainly the U-17’s in a 5-2 win and a couple by Laguna’s first team in Mexico. But both of those games were wins, and the only other goals were an own goal that gifted the league best Crew a 1-0 win in the very first match and an RSL PK before they subbed out the majority of their starters, so maybe the idea that DC had solved its defensive problems was a bit over-rated as well.

But, either way, unquestionably in a game that mattered in MLS, and often sets the tone for the early part of your season, the defense that DC trotted out in KC looked like Swiss cheese, except not quite as sharp. Certainly a lot of that can be attributed to the absence of Pena getting his paperwork finished up, Julius James being sick most of the weak, and unlucky injuries to McTavish (and Burch, as well as the Namoff saga) thinning out the herd at an inopportune time. But, then again Jakovic and Wallace both struggled, as did Simms and James when they were in there, and those guys are projected starters. Plus, how shaky is this defense if it apparently relies so heavily on a Bolivian legend that is so old that he farts dust?

Which brings us to the coaching decisions made by Onalfo. Starting Simms at right back where he is sketchy at best when he was coming off an injury and expected to play in horrendous weather conditions is in hindsight an obviously bad choice. Granted, hindsight is 20-20, and Simms has always been remarkable in coming back to fitness quickly, plus he pulled a hamstring which wasn’t the injury he was coming back from. But, seriously coaches are paid to know better. Barry Rice was on the roster, James obviously could play as he indeed did when Simms had to come out. Given the rain and cold and the fact Simms was guarding Ryan Smith arguably their best midfield/forward threat, it seems a no-brainer that Simms should not have been put in that spot.

Plus, Simms is arguably the one player on the roster that is pretty much irreplaceable. Well, unless you count Morstinck as a viable replacement. Now although Onalfo obviously sees something in that turnover machine that no one else does, but even at best he’s a stop gap measure. Unfortunately, with Simms out for at least a month, now DC’s shaky midfield that is still trying to find its identity will now be without one of their most consistent players and a veteran presence.
Onalfo also has to take some heat for starting Najar ill-advisedly then yanking him at halftime. Najar is talented no question, and he had DC’s closest scoring attempt of the night with a wicked chili dipper off the crossbar, but he was obviously in over his head and getting benched almost certainly hurt his confidence equally as badly as getting the start boosted it to begin with. Maybe there’s a reason no other player younger than him ever started a season opener, on the road in bad weather no less.

Pontius too, got the start at forward, but was bounced to a wing position at halftime in favor of Alsopp, which could not help his confidence in the least either. Plus, it raises the specter of doubt that United might actually be better with him in midfield and Alsopp starting alongside Moreno. Certainly not the way he expected to be used this year, a year in which he desperately wanted to fill the nets as a forward to get that “good player, poor finisher” bugaboo off his back. Tough to get a lot of chances as a wide player in this league unless your name is Donovan.

Plus, what does this say about Alsopp that he couldn’t even crack the starting lineup after being signed as Emilio’s heir apparent. He was supposed to be the economical version of Emilio that does similar work for less money. Well, it’s a lock Emilio would have started this game, so the Aussie doesn’t seem such a good bet anymore does he? Still, it’s a long season and surely this will play out better than it has so far. Undoubtedly it’s too early to shovel dirt on offense especially after pretty much no one played well in that abysmal opener.

But, the question is, does this team even have the tools to turn this thing around? Obviously, Onalfo’s coaching record to date doesn’t show he knows how to get a team turned around, and I gotta tell you that baffled look he showed throughout the game didn’t inspire much confidence either. He looked more like a third grader trying to solve differential equations than he did a head coach in this league who knows what he is doing. His vague quotes afterward weren’t too reassuring either. “For whatever reason” the team wasn’t ready, “we need to do better”, “we had trouble with the field”, “It was an odd week”, etc. etc. all are the kind of quotes that are a bit too vanilla after the hiding his team just took by the team that had fired him last season.

Another troubling aspect was the complete lack of composure by the team. The defense dithering on the ball and giving up bushels of second and third chances, Tino slapping someone, Moreno mud wrestling off the ball, etc. all of which are hallmarks of poor teams. They are also things you might expect from young players, but not from your team leaders. Then overall, once things are obviously going against you, good teams just tighten up and keep the score respectable, but not this DC United side. They got down and then just kept digging themselves in deeper. None of these are good signs for a team looking to get back to competence, especially when the knock against Onalfo in KC was his complacency when faced with undisciplined or shoddy play from his teams.

Then again, leaving the aside Onalfo, is this team actually capable of playing above average in this league even when fully healthy and playing reasonably well? There are some grave doubts when simply looking at their talent alone. Considering they are leaving a good chunk of their salary cap open and top to bottom have a significant deficit in pure talent, this team absolutely has to play together and be more than the sum of their parts because their talent level is simply not there.

At forward, Moreno and Pontius or Alsopp isn’t even in the top half of the East much less the league. Schelotto and Lenhart or Renteria, McBride and John, Angel and Kandji, and apparently Wolff and Arnaud or Smith are all more effective. But, at least DC’s next two opponents are worse off, NE and Philly, plus, TFC with DeRo and White are not that scary either. But, then again, the West almost top to bottom have better forwards than DC.

Overall in midfield, Quaranta, Simms, Castillo, and whoever, again barely crack average at their very best. Obviously, the Crew, Fire (with Thorrington), NY, apparently KC, arguably TFC have better midfields, only NE (even with Joseph) and Philly seem to have worse personnel in midfield. Plus, nearly every team in the West, except SJ (and its close there) has a better midfield than DC.

In defense, if Namoff comes back 100% and Pena holds up or James improves a bit and Wallace gets a bit tighter, DC probably has a pretty decent defense, maybe above average to top third. But if McTavish or Talley become the regular on the right, any central defender comes up lame, and Wallace keeps getting caught ball watching, then DC will have a bottom third defense for certain, especially if the midfield continues to expose them with costly turnovers.

Bottom line, this team shows every indication of being an average team at best. They should be able beat teams like NE, Philly, and SJ, so the schedule helps a bit in the near future. However, clearly this team has a long way to go to get themselves into the upper tier of the league, and the jury remains out on whether the dumbfounded Onalfo has any idea how to turn around a team that cratered so badly in their opening match.

There’s equally as many questions about a front office that apparently thinks this team is good enough to compete in MLS, when there’s very little doubt this collection of talent will struggle unless they stay perfectly healthy and play above themselves every match. But, I guess any organization that can annually egg themselves with embarrassing slogans shouldn’t be expected to handle roster building either.

Obviously, it’s only one game into the season, and anything can happen in MLS and usually does, but clearly DC has some heavy digging to do to even become respectable right now. The players and coach said as much after the match. Jaime said it was “a slap in the face”, Perkins that the result was “an eye-opener”. Obviously, players only say such things when they think they are better than they really are. DC has had those delusions before as the last two years of failure are a testament.

Well, there’s no question about it now. DC United is well and truly rock bottom of the league right out of the gate. About the only good thing is that there’s nowhere to go but up, let’s just hope it doesn’t take too long before we see some dramatic improvements and a lot of nagging questions get answered in a good way.

UnitedMania will be giving away some World Cup soccer jerseys and soccer jerseys from our good friends at SoccerPro. Simply comment on this editorial for a chance to win. We will pick one lucky visitor at random and announce the 1st winner live on our next podcast on 4/11/2010 at 7:00 PM.

DC United Starts Off with the Wizards

So, for the 10th time in MLS history, DC starts the season on the road, and the 3rd time it’s been in KC to boot. DC lost the previous two in tornado alley and the prospects for this one don’t seem much better. Still, a promising result in the Carolina Challenge Cup and the phoenix, Moreno once again rising from the ashes along with all the other compelling storylines might mean DC could pull off an early surprise.

But first things first, United faces yet another opener on the road where they are 4-5-1, but most of those wins came in the golden age and two of those wins were against expansion teams to boot, Miami in ’98 and Chivas in ’05. Which incidentally is the last time DC won an away opener, and that 2-0 spanking of Chivas is in fact the only away opening win since 1999. This century, DC is 1-4-1 in road openers and more ominously two of those losses were in KC, including as recently as 2008 when the Gallardo era opened in auspiciously ignoble fashion.

Then there’s the Midwest weather that always rears its head. Whenever thunderstorms are expected in tornado alley, it’s easily the most optimistic among us who expects this game to come off without a hitch. Remember this is the place where butt luck always seems to play a role. A silly storm there resulted in the first ever MLS game called because of weather, Quaranta scored two in a 3-0 rout after a 30 hour plane delay odyssey when he was 16 years old, Emilio stole a win with an out of the blue goal on independence day, and of course Julius James scored an erstwhile winner before a late PK tied DC right out of the playoffs last year. So, the form book really is of no use in this one.

But, that is fitting since this is the first game for both sides this year anyway. Obviously, DC has changed as has KC.

For DC there is of course the revenge factor for Onalfo against Vermes, who hired, fired, and replaced him as coach of the Wizards. But United has also lopped off the top 40 percent of their salary cap since that fateful tie and replaced them with solid, but unspectacular replacements, most of whom will be called upon to help Onalfo exact his revenge against his former team.

Which leads us into who exactly will play for United in this tone setting opening match for United’s 2010 season and unfortunately, I think there “It Takes More” slogan couldn’t be more apropos.

At forward, going into pre-season, it was Pontius and the newly minted Aussie Alsopp as the forwards with Moreno an afterthought assuming he would take a reduced role and go quietly into the night, but after a stunning pre-season by the Bolivian legend, he’s actually the only clear choice to start while Pontius and Alsopp have both looked a bit sketchy so far. Pontius missed a lot of time with the US team and with a hamstring pull recently, so he predictably looked rusty and out of sync in Charleston. While Alsopp started regularly and showed the work ethic and smarts one would hope for in a replacement for who merely has league MVP, and 41 goals in three years to his credit, but Alsopp did not score at all this pre-season which is of course, the most important job of any forward.

So, Onalfo has a tough choice right out of the gate in deciding who starts alongside Moreno. Pontius would be the obvious choice, but he looked understandably out of sync in Charleston, and while Alsopp looked extremely promising, albeit hideously unlucky. So, which way will Onalfo go? The solid Aussie workhorse who will fill the basket once he’s fully integrated, or with the young superstar that could be the future of the franchise as long as he’s not thwarted prematurely by hired gunslingers and a legend that will not die.

Amusingly, Onalfo’s choices in midfield really aren’t any easier. The Salvadoran Castillo on the left and Quaranta in an attacking role are no brainers, but with iron man Simms recently returned from injury and Teen-O vacating the right side without an obvious replacement means the anxious Onalfo also needs to decide whether he goes the safe or inspired route when filling those crucial positions.

The right side is particularly a concern and a tantalizing prospect as Barklage, Boyzzz, and just maybe the baby-faced Najar will be the opening day starter in that crucial wide midfield role now that Onalfo has dragged DC kicking and screaming into the modern tactics of world soccer. Barklage has the athleticism and dogged skill of a Josh Gros, but is not really a wide player. Boyzzz is lights out good as a third forward, but not so good as a wide defender. But, Najar is pretty good all around if his pre-season auditions are any indication and given his flat out breathtaking attacking flair, he probably should start. But how incredible would that be?

United has had oodles of precocious teenagers entering opening day, but none of them have started. Adu, Convey, or Quaranta none of them have actually started opening day. Now, granted this a perfect storm opening the gates for Najar to start, but then again it could be a significant sign that this United team is flat out so infamous that a teenage rookie could own a starting spot on opening day.

Then in defense no question Jakovic starts, and with the newly signed Pena not available, James is pretty likely to partner him in central defense and Wallace is almost a lock down pick, but who mans the right will be interesting considering Namoff is still not back from concussion and McTavish has pulled up a bit lame. Obviously, newly signed Carey Talley could easily man that role as he won an MLS Cup there in 1999. At least goalkeeper is set with Perkins.

So looking at the matchups, DC might actually have a pretty good edge overall. Moreno and Alsopp might just squeeze a slight edge over Conrad and Escobar or Besler. In midfield, Q and Simms easily outpace Jewsbury and the newly signed Auvray or Rocastle, or Hirsig in the center. On the left, Castillo and Wallace easily outplay Chance Myers and Harrington. Even on the left Boyzz and Talley probably outplay Smith and Espinosa too.

So, as long as DC’s defense holds down the fort, DC should be in good shape but of course that has always been the problem with any DC team looking for trophies. Flat out, the difference in this game is Jakovic and James keeping Wolff and Arnaud in check. If that happens, DC ties or wins. If not, it’s a tough way to start the season.

Bottom line for me is that I think KC hasn’t done enough to upgrade from a dissapointing season last year, while DC has just enough to expect a modicum of competancy. Sounds like a 1-1 tie to me as long as the soccer gods keep their noses out of it. If they do get involved, let’s hope they are on the United side of the equation.

On another note, starting with this post UnitedMania will be giving away some World Cup soccer jerseys and soccer jerseys from our good friends at SoccerPro. Simply comment on this match preview and the upcoming match report for a chance to win. We will pick one lucky visitor at random and announce the 1st winner live on our next podcast on 4/11/2010 at 7:00 PM.

Unitedmania Prognostications 2009: Eastern Conference

Same as before, Unitedmania’s brainstaff take a stab at how the 2009 MLS season will play out in the East. First a few notes about each team, then our picks as well as a few choice comments afterward.

Key moves in Eastern Conference:
Chicago Fire:
Additions – Baggio Husidic
Losses – Stephen King, Diego Gutierrez
Columbus Crew:
Additions – None
Losses – Brad Evans, Ezra Hendrickson, Stefani Miglioranzi
DC United:
Additions – Christian Gomez, Dejan Jakovic, Malawi Ange N’Silu, Ben Olsen maybe healthy!
Losses – Marcelo Gallardo, Gonzalo Martinez, Gonzalo Peralta, Zach Wells, Ivan Guerrero, Joe Vide, Lightning Rod Dyachenko
KC Wizards:
Additions – Santiago Hirsig, Adam Cristman, Matt Besler
Losses – Carlos Marinelli, Ivan Trujilo, Tyson Wahl, Kerry Zavagnin
NE Revolution:
Additions – Michael Videira, Kevin Alston
Losses – Michael Parkhurst, Adam Cristman, Khano Smith
RedBull NY:
Additions – Mike Petke, Dominic Oduro, Khano Smith, Jeremy Hall
Losses – Gabriel Cichero, Diego Jiminez, Jeff parke, Mike Magee, Chris Leitch, Dave van den Bergh
Toronto FC:
Additions – Dewayne DeRosario, Adrian Serioux, O’Brien White, Sam Cronin, Stefan Frei, Pablo Vitti
Losses – Carlos Ruiz, Hunter Freeman, Tyrone Marshall, Julius James, Todd Dunivant

Mike Chris Martin Jimmy
1 Chicago Chicago Chicago Chicago
2 Columbus Columbus Columbus DC United
3 DC United DC United Red Bull Columbus
4 NE Revs   Toronto DC United Toronto
5 Red Bull Red Bull NE Revs Red Bull
6 Kansas City  NE Revs  Toronto NE Revs
7 Toronto Kansas City Kansas City Kansas City

Amazingly, for the first time ever there was remarkable consensus as we all picked the Fire and Crew for first and second. Chicago had one of the better defenses in the league and will have Brian McBride for the full season to no doubt boost their weaker offensive output. The Crew are also virtually unchanged from the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup winning team. Not difficult to think they will ride that confidence well into this season too as long as they stay healthy.

Chris and I think DC will slide into third, mostly because we’re unabashed homers, but also because the team will score a lot of goals to hide most of the deficiencies of a very young defense. That, and being able to focus on MLS with their streamlined schedule as compared to the past two years of 45 plus games per season. Martin has been drinking the Red Bull cool-aid and threw them in as another of his usual off the wall guesses.

Martin came to his senses and has United squeaking into the playoffs in fourth, while Chris thinks DeRosario and a lot of young talent will help Toronto squeak into the playoff realm. I think Nichol in NE always finds a way to maneuver through MLS and he’ll do the coaching performance of his life to keep the Revs from totally sliding into obscurity as all of us agree their cumulative player losses over the past few years, especially Parkhurst this off-season will take its toll.

Chris and I also agree that Red Bull will somehow cobble together another one of their almost good enough seasons as usual, while Martin has the Revs dropping down into fifth.

Finally, in the last two slots, we all have KC scraping the bottom of the barrel, but Chris and Martin have them rock bottom, as they simply did nothing in the off-season to inspire any faith that they will be any better than they were this past year. I think Toronto will be a bit worse than KC as DeRosario makes their offense better, but they had an appalling defense last year and did nothing to address that. Plus, all the changes in the roster could really spell trouble in finding a rhythm especially as the questions swirl about Carver’s coaching ability. Chris has the least faith in the Revs as he has them dropping into the relegation zone.

So, there you have it. Surely its a sign of the apocalypse that we all agree so closely.