2009 MLS Season Preview Part Three: Bold Predictions
For the Eastern Conference preview, click here
For the Western Conference preview, click here
1. Landon Donovan will score 25-plus goals...and garner interest from a top-flight European club
Donovan will be 27 by the end of the 2009 MLS season and appears to finally be ready to play in Europe. He wants a change of scenery and his performances for Bayern Munich show that he's more than capable of competing for a roster spot.
Look for Donovan to do whatever he can this season to show European clubs that he would be a good signing. He'll be pouring in the goals at a prodigious pace in the hopes of attracting a suitor.
To sweeten the deal, he'll let them know that he's available on a free transfer at the end of the season.
2. Seattle will make the playoffs
Expansion teams have a long and storied history of struggling in their inaugural season. What's to say that Seattle won't have the same problems?
They've got money, they've got fan support, they've got a veteran roster. In short, they aren't your typical expansion club.
Seattle is looking like a third or fourth-year club rather than a rookie in the league. They've got two players on the books who were playing in the Premier League last season, a guy who played in Ligue 1, and several experienced MLS vets.
Don't be surprised when Seattle is in the playoffs at the end of the season.
3. Columbus will repeat as MLS Cup champs
They're good enough to do it. As long as Guillermo Barros Schelotto stays healthy and provides the sublime passing he's become known for, Columbus could stay in the mix with him and 10 senior citizens.
The Crew have a young, talented core supplemented by guys like Frankie Hejduk. They enjoyed their first taste of Cup success last season and have a great chance to snag a second Cup in 2009.
4. The Eastern Conference will be the best yet
The East has the defending champs, the losing finalists from 2008, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Brian McBride, Christian Gomez, Dwayne De Rosario, J.P. Angel, Taylor Twellman, Shalrie Joseph, and the most rabid fans in the whole league thanks to Toronto and Chicago.
The 2009 All-Star lineup will be dominated by players from the East, and the East will beat up on the West during the regular season.
5. Kenny Cooper will leave MLS in August and so will Sacha Kljestan
Cooper has been attracting increasingly lucrative offers over the past couple of seasons. He'll stay healthy this season and turn in a career year. Finally, a European squad will make an offer that MLS can't refuse and Cooper will take his considerable strength and talent overseas.
Kljestan arrived on the international scene during the Beijing Olympics and cemented his status as a hot commodity with a hat-trick against Sweden in January. Had MLS not tried to get another couple million bucks out of Celtic a few weeks ago, Kljestan would already be gone.
6. DaMarcus Beasley will join Bobby Convey and Brian McBride as MLS returnees
Beasley just isn't getting the time he wants or needs at Rangers. If the Scottish club tries to offload him like it looks like they might, MLS is a very likely destination. Any club would welcome him with open arms, but wouldn't it be great to see him roaming the wing in Chicago again?
A team with Beasley, Blanco and McBride would be the best in MLS.
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