- Jason Davis

The clock is ticking, the season opener approaches. My opportunity to go on the record with a few predictions for the 2011 MLS season is rapidly shrinking, and while I would love to forgo the chance to look like I don't know what I'm doing, I have a certain responsibility.

Keith laid out a few predictions of his own yesterday. I'll hit the same categories, then add my order of finish and playoff predictions after. If I'm going to put myself out there, I might as well go all the way.

2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Winners
The Sounders are repeat champions, make a point to go after the Open Cup in a way few MLS teams do, and should be deep enough to make another run at it. Until someone knocks them out, I find it hard to pick anyone else.

Pick: Seattle Sounders

2011 Supporters Shield Winners
After coming up just short in 2010 and showing every sign of being a power in 2011, Real Salt Lake is the obvious pick for the Shield. They're monsters at home, have all the talent and depth needed to deal with multiple competitions, and should benefit from another year of experience playing together.

Pick: Real Salt Lake

2011 MLS Cup Champions
Winning the Supporters Shield usually means you won't win MLS Cup. Columbus was the last team to do it in 2008. That makes this pick a crap shoot, and while my head is telling me to go with Real Salt Lake despite the history, I've going to pick my Cup winner out of a hat. It honestly won't be any worse a pick than any I try to rationalize. Let's go with...New York. Their fans have suffered long enough, right? Don't answer that United fans.

Pick: New York Red Bulls

2011 MLS MVP
Goals get noticed in the MVP race, though David Ferreira's win in 2010 shows that a playmaking midfielder having an amazing season can overtake the top goalscorers. Keith's pick, Javier Morales, fits that possible mold. I'm tempted to make the same choice, but I have a feeling pendulum swings the other way this season. The Golden Boot winner will win. Now I have to predict the Golden Boot winner.

Pick: Golden Boot winner

2011 MLS Golden Boot
Keith is a crazy homer picking Sebastien Le Toux, in part because a second year Mwanga and back-in-MLS El Pescadito will poach some of the Frenchman's goals. There are obvious candidates sprinkled around the league like Angel, Montero, Donovan, Wondowlowski, etc. Angel will score goals. So will Montero. I don't think either will win the Golden Boot. Donovan isn't LA's primary scorer anymore, so he's about, and while I think Wondo will have a good season, I doubt he'll hit home 18 again. That brings me back to my RSL love fest.

Pick: Alvaro Saborio

2011 MLS Rookie of The Year
This is another out-of-the-hat choice for me. There is no obvious criteria to use, since most of them require pure speculation, other than who is most likely to see significant playing time. Going with that, and having heard good things, I'm going local. Perry Kitchen will in the center of defense for DC United, and with his versatility, may play some midfield this season as well. I was tempted to cop out here and just make my pick "a rookie from Akron," rather than be specific. Oh well.

Pick: Perry Kitchen

On to my predicted order of finish, which is certain to be way, way off. I did manage to get one thing right in 2010, however (that only two teams would make the playoffs from the East), so I'm hoping I can hang my hat on something similar in 2011.


1. New York
2. Houston
3. Philadelphia
4. DC United
5. Sporting KC
6. Columbus
7. Toronto
8. New England
9. Chicago

Everything after New York is "I have no f&*king clue" territory.


1. RSL
2. LA
3. Seattle
4. FC Dallas
5. San Jose
6. Colorado
7. Vancouver
8. Portland
9. Chivas USA

I'm hoping Robin Fraser proves me wrong, by the way.

Playoff picks!

Wait, I'm going to have to go check on the rules again. Damn. Obviously we know the top three in each conference make it, then something about wildcards. So let's just say the top seven in the West and the top three in the East and keep up the spirit of 2010, shall we?

Anyway, let me know where you think I've gone horribly wrong, and throw your own picks in the mix.

Happy new MLS season!

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