Monday, August 13, 2018

Who's lookin' up?

And so we arrive at my belated final chapter of my look back at preseason predictions and view ahead to the back stretch. It's the bottom six of the West, which should prove a major fracas the rest of the way.

Seattle (23, 1.39)

You may feel like you've seen this movie before: (deep trailer voice) In a world where the Sounders always start the season in shambles before magically restoring their title-contending mojo in the heat of summer... you know the drill.

Outlook: Back in the playoffs? Yup, because the defense can still steal points. Running toward another MLS Cup appearance? Probably not, because the aging and hobbled attack remains thin enough - but who would definitively count them out in the wild West? Not I.

Vancouver (24, 1.39)

It's been a roller coaster season for a team I picked to finsih second in the West. That ain't gonna happen, largely because they neglected to find a replacement for Tim Parker. It also doesn't help that, after some early success with it, the Caps have abandoned all pretense of wanting the ball. Even with their crazy counter and set piece danger, one has to, ya know, manage games from time to time.

Outlook: It's a pity they won't shine brighter in the Davies swansong season. They really could have been special with one or two back line additions and some kind of midfield set-up consistency. As is, I think they'll need to out-do Seattle down the stretch to gain the last playoff berth. And, folks, that is not a job anyone chooses.

Minnesota (24, 1.21)

Boy, that attack has become hella-fun, like a something-from-nothing machine. Unfortunately, the defense remains an welcoming port unguarded by a stern gate-keeper.

Outlook: And because of that, the Loons won't sniff the postseason this year. They will go out fighting knowing exactly what they need to make a big step up next season, though.

Houston (23, 1.17)

A lot of people were high on the Dynamo early in the year and stayed in their corner even while they scuffled into summer. The reality is their game doesn't work when midfield muscle Cabezas is sitting on 36 total minutes played in mid-August and the #10 spot lacks a real difference maker. They amount to side requiring  a delicate balanced, and they just don't have it this year.

Outlook: I would be tempted to call them in the top six if they had even one of those key midfield areas was poppin'. This year should end with a near miss.

Colorado (23, 1)

Outlook: Hey, the Rapids have shown real signs of life since Kellyn Acosta arrived and the team moved to a 4-4-2 diamond. Enough life to race back into playoff contention? Nah. But they're finding something to build on for next year.

San Jose (23, 0.70)

I predicted the Quakes would again take the final playoff pass in the West. And then the season started, and all I can ask since then is "What is the plan here?"

Outlook: Unless they can suddenly rack up six or seven straight wins, the remainder of this season will be for figuring out who they want back next season (management included). So yeah, probably the last thing.

- Greg Seltzer

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