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Kickoff of Major League Soccer’s 25th season is upon us. We asked our crew to pick the MLS Cup champion, Supporters’ Shield winner, league MVP, Golden Boot winner, and more. We also want you to get involved, so let us know your votes below ...
Supporters’ Shield winner
Ryan Bailey: LAFC. Bob Bradley’s side may not win it at a canter this season, but they should thrive in the Western Conference.
Andy Deossa: Atlanta United. This team just wins trophies. Look for the dynamic Martínez duo (Josef and Pity) to finally strive at the fullest potential.
Doug McIntyre: Atlanta United. While the Five Stripes took a step back under first-year boss Frank de Boer last season, that roster has more than enough quality to hoist the one domestic trophy they haven’t won since entering MLS three years ago.
Joey Gulino: LAFC. I am a Supporters’ Shield truther and think it represents a more accurate champion and I will die on that hill.
Ryan: Rodolfo Pizarro. The Mexican may be a league newbie, but he is incredibly talented and should shine in an Inter Miami side that has been built to give him a platform for success.
Andy: Cristian Pavón. Watching the Argentine in preseason you could tell how freely he’s playing without Zlatan hogging the attention. The Galaxy bolstered their offense and he’ll be at the helm of the success.
Doug: Pity Martínez. He failed to live up to the billing in 2019 after arriving as the reigning South American player of the year. But he’s a high-quality player, and I think he’s motivated to make a statement in his sophomore campaign.
Joey: Jordan Morris. I’ll believe his upward trajectory of the last year or so is over when I see it.
Ryan: Carlos Vela. He’s on the best team and he’s the league’s best player. That means goals. No one has ever retained the Golden Boot the year after winning it, but this looks like it could be the exception.
Andy: Alan Pulido. Proven scorer landing on a team in desperate need of a star striker. Sporting Kansas City might not have the best season, but he’ll find the back of the net plenty as he did in Liga MX. Some of his first public words to the media here were about taking the scoring title from Vela … while sitting at Banc of California Stadium. He’s ready.
Doug: Javier Hernández. This guy has scored consistently internationally and in three of the world’s top leagues. His movement in the box is unlike anything MLS defenders are used to, and he works his ass off to get on the end of chances. The result will be goals aplenty, and a lot more than most expect.
Joey: Chris Wondolowski. What a capper to his career that would be. A fan can dream, right?
Chicharito will lead the Galaxy to …
Ryan: Second place in the Western Conference behind their city neighbors!
Andy: A top-three finish in the West and a highly anticipated Conference final vs. their crosstown rivals.
Doug: Top spot in the West during the regular season and a trip to the MLS Cup playoff semis, where he’ll meet his match in El Tri teammate Vela and LAFC.
Joey: The fourth or fifth spot in the West and the conference semifinals. Same as Zlatan did last season, just in a different fashion.
Expansion clubs Inter Miami and Nashville SC will finish …
Ryan: I believe both could make the playoffs. Inter Miami have enough talent to come out swinging, while Nashville’s squad balance, defensive strength in Walker Zimmerman, and selection of seasoned MLS vets should serve them well. Both will certainly outperform FC Cincinnati’s expansion season, because, well, they couldn’t do any worse.
Andy: Both teams WILL make the playoffs. Inter Miami is on an even playing field in what seems to be a very open Eastern Conference. I like David Beckham’s shiny new toy in the sixth spot. Nashville built a well-rounded squad but the West is a bit more stacked. Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal will produce enough to help them sneak in.
Doug: Miami doesn’t boast the household names everyone thought they would, but I like their mix of proven MLS veterans (Luis Robles, Roman Torres, Wil Trapp, Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo) and quality foreign imports (Matias Pellegrini, Rodolfo Pizarro). I say they get in. Nashville, on the other hand, won’t get anywhere near the postseason with the roster they’ve put together so far.
Joey: I’m actually bullish as hell on Inter Miami and think they’ll comfortably make the playoffs. Nashville has some pieces and plays in a phenomenal city, but I think they just miss out.
MLS Cup champion
Ryan: LAFC. Third time’s a charm! They may suffer with the departure of Walker Zimmerman, but they still have the league’s best goalscorer and the experience to go the distance.
Andy: LAFC. The Black and Gold are now battle-tested and even more motivated after being a game away from hosting last year’s final. Has to be all in on the Cup for Bob Bradley’s squad this season.
Doug: LAFC. Sometimes you have to lose to win. After their playoff failures in 2018 and 2019, that club will have one singular goal in mind this season.
Joey: Seattle Sounders. Still best equipped to mitigate the wild randomness of the eight-month league season. Their run ain’t over yet.
Fans predict MLS 2020
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