The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! The 2008 Major League Soccer season is upon us. Here are a few things to look out for this season:
- David Beckham makes his second go-around with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
- Stars Juan Pablo Angel and Cuauhtéhmoc Blanco look to continue their great form from the 2007 season.
- The return of the San Jose Earthquakes gives the Bay Area another lease on soccer life.
- The dominant University of California, Santa Barbara senior class comes to the MLS from the SuperDraft.
- The MLS 2008 Kits.
As usual, at the end of the season, Major League Soccer will deliberate over a number of awards, along with the silverware that the deserving teams will carry away. I have predicted who will win the ones that arouse my interest:
MLS Supporters Shield: Chivas USA. With both of their goal-scorers returning from injury in time for the start of the season, as well as a multitude of young talent finding their place on the US National Team, look for the Southern Californians to be another bright spot in a hot Los Angeles summer.
MLS Cup: New England Revolution. This has got to be the most unlucky team in professional sports. They have made the Cup final for the past three seasons, and have had to settle for second best each time. They made minimal changes in the off season, and their influential players will look to finally capture the elusive trophy.
Rookie of the Year: With UCSB having so many sought-after players, it has to go to one of them. Andy Iro, drafted by the Columbus Crew, has a list of honors in the collegiate game that is longer than my leg. Let’s just stick with the big ones: 2007 Hermann Trophy Candidate (NCAA’s most valuable player), 2006 Second Team NSCAA All-American, and 2006 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player in UCSB’s title run. Besides that, I’ve seen him play and the Liverpudlian has what it takes to compete at the next level.
Most Valuable Player: Taylor Twellman of the New England Revolution. The Revs’ firepower (110 career goals for New England), look for Twellman to lead them to their first MLS Cup ever. Preston North End have already made an offer for him, which was rejected against his wishes, but don’t expect him to stick around forever.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Matt Reis of the New England Revolution. He has made 137 appearances for the Revs in five seasons. He is a professional in every way possible, a fan favorite, and one of the best humanitarians in the league. He has long been underrated, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t win the award this year (after being a finalist in 2005 and 2006), but I have to give him a shout.
Enjoy the season. It should be a good one, with lots of teams capable of competing for silverware. To guide you through these scary first few weeks, have a look at the previews I have written up for your enjoyment:
- Chicago Fire 2008 Season Preview
- Chivas USA 2008 Season Preview
- Colorado Rapids 2008 Season Preview
- Columbus Crew 2008 Season Preview
- DC United 2008 Season Preview
- FC Dallas 2008 Season Preview
- Houston Dynamo 2008 Season Preview
- Kansas City Wizards 2008 Season Preview
- LA Galaxy 2008 Season Preview
- New England Revolution 2008 Season Preview
- New York Red Bulls 2008 Season Preview
- Real Salt Lake 2008 Season Preview
- San Jose Earthquakes 2008 Season Preview
- Toronto FC 2008 Season Preview
- Interview with Bryan James, founder of Sons of Ben (by Kim Newsome)
- US in Crossroads and Crosshairs (by Dan Leo)
- Interview with Ante Razov of Chivas USA (by Eddie Griffin)
- Interview with Diego Gutierrez of Chicago Fire (by Steve Amoia)
- MLS Kits