Editors from Goal.com USA and Goal.com Canada run through their predictions ahead of the start of the 2013 MLS season.The 2013 MLS season is upon us and Goal.com's editors have made their predictions. Six editors across the USA and Canada weighed in on their choices for multiple MLS topics.
What you'll find below is the player or team that garnered the most votes in each category, a quick breakdown who else picked up votes, and a majority opinion written by one of the six voters:
MLS MVP: Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls
Only two other players recived votes in this category, and Henry was the only player to pick up multiple votes, pulling in four. Chris Wondolowski and Mauro Rosales each also had a nomination.
Avi Creditor's take on Henry as MVP: A finalist for MVP last season, Henry is coming off a 15-goal, 12-assist campaign and should have no problem replicating, or even exceeding, those numbers for a club that put the quality around him that should be conducive to a top-class showing.
Rookie of the Year: Kyle Bekker, Toronto FC
Bekker and Andrew Farrell both pulled multiple votes, with Bekker edging out the New England Revolution defender. The overriding theme seemed to be that both rookies would get enough playing time and be effective enough to be in consideration. Erik Hurtado of Vancouver also picked up a vote.
Goal.com Canada's Rudi Schuller's take on Bekker for ROY: Total homer pick by me, but he'll get lots of playing time in a position where TFC needs help, so why not?
Golden Boot: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
It's hard to argue against a guy that is coming off the season that Wondolowski had in 2012, but the vote was close. Robbie Keane pulled two votes and Eddie Johnson earned one, with both expected to play big parts for good teams.
Keith Hickey's take on Wondolowski's Golden Boot chances: Last season, Wondo became the third player to win a second golden boot in MLS (Taylor Twellman and Jeff Cunningham being the others), and my money is on him to become the first player to win it two years in a row and the first to win three total.
Best New Foreign Signing: Nigel Reo-Coker, Vancouver Whitecaps
With plenty of options, this vote got split across five players. Reo-Coker was the only person to pull multiple votes, but Portland's Diego Valeri, New York's Juninho, pending Seattle Sounders arrival Obafemi Martins (his imminent signing from Levante is not yet complete, but his potential should he join MLS is high) and Sporting Kansas City's Claudio Bieler were all mentioned as well.
Allen Ramsey's take on Reo-Coker: Here's a player that has plenty of class through the middle of the park, is a ball winner and isn't so old that you should expect him to have just two or three good years left. The more Reo-Cokers MLS gets, the better the level of play will be in the league.
Breakout Player: Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps
LA Galaxy and U.S. U-20 forward Jose Villarreal and San Jose Earthquakes forward Mike Fucito picked up single votes, but after Mattocks showed flashes of how good he could be last year, the majority feels that he is primed to bust loose.
Seth Vertelney's take on why Mattocks will have a big season: Watch how good he can be without any bizarre cooking accidents taking away two months of his season.
Comeback Player: Robbie Findley, Real Salt Lake
As is the case with MLS' loose definition of the award, it does not only have to go to a player returning from major injury, as evidenced by Eddie Johnson winning the honors last season. Conor Casey, Carlos Ruiz, Danny Koevermans and Benny Feilhaber all pulled votes, with Findley winning on the strength of being the only player picked twice.
Alex Labidou's take on Findley's return to RSL: This is usually the most ambiguous award of the postseason, so my money is on Findley. Returning to RSL's system should pay big dividends for the former United States international.
Supporters' Shield: Seattle Sounders FC
Sporting Kansas City, Seattle and New York all grabbed votes, but the Sounders took the split over SKC, with New York picking up one selection.
Allen Ramsey's take on the Sounders' outlook: Attacking talent, a midfield that can not only supply service and join in the attack, but break up play and win balls, and a defense that should be able to hold its own against the powers in the West. What more does Seattle need?
Team under the most pressure: Toronto FC
TFC, a team with very low expectations around the league, beat out two teams with high expectations in New York and Seattle, to win this vote going away.
Rudi's Schuller's take on the pressure in Toronto: The once boisterous fanbase has dwindled and become restless, and TFC is under a ton of pressure to at least show signs of life in order to stay relevant in a city where the other sports franchises are finally looking competitive again.
Most improved team: New England Revolution
Once again the vote was split. Vancouver, Montreal, Colorado, Portland each picked up one vote, with two votes going to New England.
Keith Hickey on why the Revs will be better in 2013: That the Revs scored just 39 goals last year is mind-boggling, considering the attacking talent they have available. A full year with no injuries, and Jay Heaps should have no problem getting goals out of a talented crew of Jerry Bengston, Lee Nguyen, and Kelyn Rowe (in addition to Saer Sene when he returns from his torn ACL).
MLS Cup winner: Houston Dynamo
Despite Seattle and Sporting Kansas City taking most of the votes for the Supporters' Shield, both were way behind Houston in the voting for which team would be crowned as champion. Houston picked up three votes, with SKC, Seattle and New York each pulling one. Perhaps surprisingly, two-time defending champion LA wasn't shown any love.
Avi Creditor's take on the Dynamo's title chances:With no major defections, shrewd additions in Omar Cummings, Eric Brunner and Andrew Driver, full seasons of Oscar Boniek Garcia and Giles Barnes and a playoff-tested squad to boot, the Dynamo will put the past two MLS Cup failures in the rear-view mirror by hoisting the trophy this season.