It may only be the sixth week that Major League Soccer has been under way, but it is time to make some predictions of who will win, who will not win, and who will be the recipients of awards at the end of the season. For the most part, the start of the season has been tight, as teams can dominate one week and lose miserably the next, or vice versa. Some players and teams have been better than others, and with that, let’s begin the predictions. (These predictions were made prior to week 6 games being played.)
Supporter’s Shield: Vancouver Whitecaps
The Supporter’s Shield is given to the team that accumulates the most points over the course of the season. Despite losing their first game handily to Toronto FC 3-1, Vancouver has looked the most likely to run away from the rest of the teams in the league and win the Shield. Their young, they are incredibly fast, and they can score. Their defense is the only thing that is a bit of a weakness, as their center backs Kendall Waston and Pa Modou Kah are very physical and prone to fouling. They score enough goals that giving up a few will not really matter, though.
MLS Cup: Vancouver Whitecaps
The playoffs are difficult to predict so early in the season, especially since this summer is the Gold Cup tournament and the U-20 World Cup, so many teams will be missing players. This means that once the summer is over the teams that are more successful are likely to emerge. However, right no Vancouver looks like the best team. They have speed to spare, playmakers, and youth, and if they don’t get too physical and get players sent off, are always dangerous in the goal department, especially on the counter. Vancouver looks like the best team in the West right now, and the Eastern Conference team they will play in the finals is going to be DC United.
Landon Donovan MVP Award: Pedro Morales
Just as the MLS Cup Champs are difficult to predict, it is tough to say who will breakthrough as the best player this season as well. It will probably be a player on the Whitecaps if they win MLS Cup like in the prediction. While Octavio Rivero scores all the goals, the real star of the Whitecaps is their playmaker in the middle, Pedro Morales. While he has yet to score a goal this season, Morales already has 3 assists, tied for second in the league with 4 other players. Morales will be the MVP of the championship team, the Whitecaps, because even though he may not score as much as his teammate Rivero, he creates the plays that lead to goals, which is much more important.
MLS Comeback Player of the Year Award: Ike Opara*
The Comeback Player of the Year goes to the player who showed the most improvement after a leave of absence, due to injury, medical condition, or after a slump in performance. In 2015, so far that player is definitely Ike Opara. Opara suffered an ankle injury last April that surprisingly ended his season. After recovering, Opara has started Sporting Kansas City’s first five games and has scored two goals.
MLS Defender of the Year Award: Ike Opara*
Not only should Opara win the Comeback Player of the Year, he is also one of the frontrunners for Defender of the Year. Sporting KC is in fourth place with 6 goals allowed, although 2 of those were in a win. Opara himself has scored 2 of the 6 goals Kansas City has scored themselves, and has been a rock at the back in defense along with US National Team player Matt Besler.
MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award: Tyler Deric
Plenty of goalkeepers have been impressive, including DC United’s Bill Hamid and Colorado’s Steve Irwin, but Tyler Deric should lead the running for Goalkeeper of the Year at the moment. Although he gave up a messy goal that he punched in himself, Deric has made up for it with numerous spectacular saves that have kept Houston in games.
MLS Golden Boot: Octavio Rivero
Through the first 5 games of the season, Rivero has 5 goals, and is on pace for 34 goals this season. While he should probably have 6 goals, as he missed an empty net tap-in during the Whitecaps’ first game. Despite that miss, Rivero has put the ball in the back of the net with ease, and is thus far the most dangerous striker in the league.
MLS Newcomer of the Year Award: Octavio Rivero
Rivero came to the Whitecaps this season from Chilean club O’Higgins FC, where he scored 10 goals in 16 games. If Rivero were to win the Golden Boot, he would almost be assured the Newcomer of the Year as well. The Whitecaps also had last season’s newcomer of the year, their playmaker Pedro Morales.
MLS Rookie of the Year: Fatai Alashe
The toughest award of the bunch to predict is the Rookie of the Year, especially since the season has just begun and many rookies have not had the chance to make their mark. So far, the most impressive rookie has been San Jose’s Fatai Alashe. It is unusual to see a rookie start right away for any first team, and Alashe has been impressive through 4 games, including scoring his first goal and the first goal of San Jose’s new Avaya Stadium.
MLS Best XI: This is the best eleven players from the past season. It is not an award, it is just to showcase the most impressive players that season.
Goalkeeper: Tyler Deric
Defenders: Ike Opara*, Bobby Boswell, Chris Duvall
Midfielders Benny Feilhaber, Sebastian Giovinco, Harry Shipp, Pedro Morales
Forwards: Octavio Rivero, Kei Kamara, Clint Demps
*Opara suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during Sporting KC’s week 6 game with Real Salt Lake.