Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Handicapping the MLS Season - Canadian Style

    Each Canadian city has been receiving mixed forecasts for the upcoming MLS season: Vancouver is flying high, stoked by depth, unity, and a few wins under the belt. Toronto was at first stone-footed with a daunting CCL opener hanging over their heads and an inactive preseason appearing to have been a risk, only to turn things around in their final two matches in Orlando by scoring some goals and tightening up at the back. And Montreal, well, they look like an expansion side; yet to coalesce into a team at all. They have the pieces but will they come together in time.

    Before getting too concerned about preseason results, there is one simple fact that must be addressed. At the point in the year, every team and every local pundit is predicting that their team is stronger than last year and that the minimum goal is the playoffs. While there are now ten teams that do, there will still be a further nine that do not.

    Though Vancouver looks to have put a disappointing initial campaign behind them, they have a tougher Western Conference to fight through, a task that is granted extra import as the imbalanced schedule will emphasis divisional play. The West now boasts some much improved opponents: Portland - who have improved, or look to have, almost as much as Vancouver; San Jose - buoyed by the stadium announcement coming to fruition and a few key acquisitions adding to a solid returning core; Colorado - who surely will not be hampered by injuries as much as they were last year, not to mention a more settled front office and lack of continental distraction; and Chivas – though mysterious they look to have made some good acquisitions. Not to mention powerhouses Salt Lake, Seattle and Los Angeles.

    The Eastern Conference is looking to be the weaker of the two again this season, but it truth, that could just be a result of the amount of drastic changes a number of sides have gone through. Kansas City, the most stable of the lot, looks to contend as they did last season, with some improved depth. Houston will hope their emotional victory in the return of Brian Ching and their new home will see them to yet another Cup final. New York too, hopefully has added some variety. DC looks much stronger, or at least, to be more consistent. While teams like Columbus and New England faced substantial overhauls.

    Toronto and Montreal are very much in that unknown category. Late season improvements by TFC were met with a quiet, efficient offseason that addressed several issues, but may not have been enough. While Montreal, may have spent too much energy on the Ching debacle and in search of a designated old man, to concentrate on what will surely be a difficult season, bringing in a random series of players from which they hope to form a team.

    Preseason results, while great for momentum, positivity and good will in the stands at home, will not count for anything come the regular season. Blindly aiming for the playoffs and making predictions is foolish. The league is not static, opponents will have spent as much time and resource striving to improve as much as the Canadian sides, and until we see a bit more, it is impossible to say definitively, but easy to get ahead of one’s’ self.

    So with all that said; a prediction. There will be a first Canadian participant in the MLS playoffs this season – statistically, at least, it’s guaranteed.

    Who it will be; how they will fare; whether they will be the lone representative… all remains to be seen.

    It’s a long season, enjoy.

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