How will things turn out in Major League Soccer this season? Now's hardly the time to ask. Teams alter their rosters into June, look for help in the summer transfer window, and might not round into form until September. The club that carries off the trophy usually is the one that's hottest heading into the playoffs.
No matter, we'll give it a go.
Here are our predictions for 2012's finish and major awards:
The West is the best, so an unbalanced schedule favors Eastern clubs in the regular-season championship. But it's hard to bet against the league's top team, Omar Gonzalez or no Omar Gonzalez.
The Sounders have been terrific in the regular season, less so in the postseason. Nobody's hungrier. And only the Galaxy has superior talent, and the margin is thin. Torrance's Sigi Schmid would be the first MLS coach to win MLS Cup titles with three different clubs (Galaxy 2002, Columbus 2008).
REGULAR-SEASON ORDER OF FINISH
2. Seattle Sounders
3. Real Salt Lake
4. FC Dallas
5. Portland Timbers
6. Colorado Rapids
7. Chivas USA
8. San Jose Earthquakes
9. Vancouver Whitecaps
1. Sporting Kansas City
2. New York Red Bulls
3. Houston Dynamo
4. Columbus Crew
5. Philadelphia Union
6. Toronto FC
7. Chicago Fire
8. D.C. United
9. New England Revolution
10. Montreal Impact
MVP: Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders)
Rookie of the Year: Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution)
Newcomer of the Year: Hamdi Salihi (D.C. United)
Defender of the Year: Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Josh Saunders (Galaxy)
Coach of the Year: Peter Vermes (Sporting Kansas City)
Golden Boot: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Assist Leader: David Beckham (Galaxy)