With so many new faces in the fold, the Kansas City Wizards are still mostly a mystery after one match of the season.
Will the same Kansas City team that dominated D.C. United 4-0 on Saturday show up most weeks or is D.C. just that bad?
Only the next game on the field will tell, but until then, here are a few predictions for manager Peter Vermes’ side in 2010.
1) Ryan Smith will be one of the most fouled players in MLS
If last Saturday's performance is any indication, Smith is going to spend a significant amount of time picking himself up off the ground this season.
Smith's quick feet, his willingness to go at defenders and his slight frame meant D.C. United was forced to use illegal means more often than not to stop him.
Smith found enough space to assist on Davy Arnaud's goal and added one of his own before James hacked him down from behind to force him off with an ankle injury. If Smith can avoid injuries and adapt to the heat of an MLS summer, the Wizards will have a ready-made replacement for Claudio Lopez’s production from a year ago.
2) Teal Bunbury will score at least five goals
Physically, Bunbury is the most imposing forward on the team apart from Kei Kamara. Josh Wolff will start the majority of matches at center forward, but Bunbury figures to see plenty of time as an impact substitute and in the U.S. Open Cup.
The coaching staff and veterans such as Jimmy Conrad have already raved about Bunbury’s professional attitude. His nose for goal was well documented at Akron.
With a rare combination of size, strength, speed and guile, Bunbury has a chance to hit the ground running this season depending on how far the Wizards advance in the Open Cup and how injuries affect the squad.
Five goals is not an unrealistic goal. The key for Bunbury is simply getting on the field, something he seems determined to do.
3) Chance Myers will show why he was a No. 1 overall pick
Injuries have kept Myers off the field for most of his first two seasons in MLS. They even kept him out the 18-man roster against D.C. United.
But Myers will be back, and the third-year pro is primed to finally give fans a long look at the player that Kansas City thought enough of to bypass players like Patrick Nyarko, Brek Shea, Andy Iro and Ciaran O'Brien.
Myers’ speed caused fits for opponents in the preseason, and he was in a battle for the starting right forward spot with Kei Kamara before experiencing a hamstring issue in the week leading up to First Kick.
Assuming the injury bug stays away, Myers, who is still only 22, will get plenty of chances to show his quality.
4) Kansas City will make the playoffs
The Wizards were only seven points behind the final stragglers into the playoffs last season, eventual MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake. That was with MLS’ worst home record.
Manager Peter Vermes’ team is much deeper than the 2009 version and boasts enough depth to overcome the injuries that inevitably occur in a 30-game season.
Kansas City also has a solid core of veterans and a budding group of young that will be expected to take on significant responsibility this season.
Based on sheer probability, the Wizards will earn more points at home this season. That -- coupled with the team’s international additions -- will be enough to push Kansas City into the postseason.