staff predictions for the 2017 MLS season

Every year, the staff submits their season predictions.

Every year, most of us end up being heinously wrong.

Hope springs eternal, however, so we’re back with another round of predictions for 2017. Eleven members of the team – Ben Baer, Charles Boehm, Simon Borg, Arielle Castillo, Matt Doyle, David Gass, Greg Lalas, Alicia Rodriguez, Nicholas Rosano, Andrew Wiebe and yours truly – submitted picks for the upcoming season.

Is this the year we get it right? You be the judge – check out our predictions below: 

MLS Cup – FC Dallas

Fabian Castillo is gone and Mauro Diaz is still rehabbing that torn Achilles, but that didn’t stop FC Dallas from taking being named our preseason MLS Cup 2017 champs. Four members of our panel picked the 2016 Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup winners to take home the MLS crown in 2017, narrowly edging out Toronto FC (3 votes) and defending MLS Cup champs Seattle Sounders (2 votes) for the honors.

Received one vote: Columbus Crew SC, Portland Timbers

Supporters’ Shield – Toronto FC

The vote wasn’t quite as close for the Supporters’ Shield. Toronto FC ran away with this category, with seven of 11 voters picking the 2016 MLS Cup runner-ups to win the Shield in 2017. Toronto, who finished fifth in the 2016 regular season, were one of just two teams to receive multiple votes in this category, with Seattle receiving two nods.

Received one vote: D.C. United, FC Dallas

Golden Boot – Sebastian Giovinco

Come on, you didn’t expect anyone else, did you? Sebastian Giovinco has been the class of the league since he signed with Toronto ahead of the 2015 season, scoring 39 goals and recording 31 assists in 61 regular season matches. He took home six votes to win Golden Boot this year, followed by his Toronto teammate Jozy Altidore, who was picked by two of our panelists.

Received one vote: Ola Kamara, Josef Martinez, Bradley Wright-Phillips

MVP – Sebastian Giovinco

Another award, another nod for Giovinco. Six voters selected the Atomic Ant, who won the 2015 MLS MVP but finished fourth in the voting last year, to take home the 2017 Landon Donovan MLS MVP award. He was one of only two players to receive votes, finishing one vote ahead of Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro, who was picked by five panelists.

Newcomer of the Year – Miguel Almiron

Plenty of intriguing players came into MLS this winter, but Miguel Almiron – the marquee signing for expansion club Atlanta United FC – pulled the most votes for 2017 Newcomer of the Year. The Paraguayan international narrowly beat out Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic, Portland’s Sebastian Blanco and Dallas’ Cristian Colman, all of whom received two votes, as well as a pair of Atlanta players who both took home one tally.

Received one vote: Yamil Asad, Josef Martinez

Rookie of the Year – Ian Harkes

He flirted a bit with Europe this winter, but Ian Harkes – the son of former US national team and D.C. United midfielder John – eventually signed with his hometown Black-and-Red. The reigning MAC Hermann Trophy winner has a good shot to contribute for United right off the bat this year and was one of only two players (along with Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse, who tallied two votes) to receive votes in this category.

Received one vote: Lalas Abubakar, Daniel Johnson, Nick Lima, Miles Robinson

Defender of the Year – Walker Zimmerman

One year after his center back partner Matt Hedges took home the award, our panel likes FC Dallas’ Walker Zimmerman to take home the 2017 Defender of the Year honors. The newly-minted US international beat out fellow center backs Steve Birnbaum, Jelle Van Damme and Roman Torres, all of whom received two votes for preseason Defender of the Year.

Received one vote: Jonathan Mensah

Goalkeeper of the Year – Tim Howard

After finishing third in the 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year voting despite arriving midway through the season, our voters like Colorado Rapids ‘keeper Tim Howard to win the honors in 2017. The US national team stalwart received five votes, three more than runner-up and 2014 Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid.

Received one vote: David Bingham, Jake Gleeson, Nick Rimando, Luis Robles

Coach of the Year – Greg Vanney

With Toronto picked by our group to win the Supporters’ Shield, it follows that TFC head coach Greg Vanney would receive the most preseason votes for Coach of the Year. Now entire his third full season as Toronto manager, Vanney received five votes, three more than Atlanta’s Tata Martino and Columbus Crew SC’s Gregg Berhalter.

Received one vote: Wilmer Cabrera, Oscar Pareja

2016 playoff team most likely to miss out in 2017 – Colorado Rapids, Philadelphia Union

The preseason picks politburo is not high on the Rapids, with four voters picking last year’s Supporters’ Shield runner-ups as the 2016 playoff team most likely to miss the postseason in 2017. The voters don’t like the Union either, with four picking Philly to miss the postseason this year after qualifying as the East’s sixth seed in 2016. Real Salt Lake, the sixth seed out West in 2016, also received two votes in this category.

Received one vote: Montreal Impact

Non-playoff team in 2016 that’s most likely to make playoffs in 2017 – Columbus Crew SC

If our voters are right, Columbus Crew SC will bounce back from their disappointing 2016 to make the playoffs this year, with four panelists picking Berhalter’s boys to return to the postseason in 2017. Expansion team Atlanta received two votes in this category, the same total as the Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo.

Received one vote: Vancouver Whitecaps


Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.