Ah new year, new MLS season. I've said that ad nauseam now, but it's true. And with a new season comes, well, new everything! We'll see new players, new tactics, new matches, new business partnerships... really the door is wide open.
As such, I've decided to compile a list of 2012 predictions. You know, just for fun. I could be way off and really these have no, or little, factual basis so it remains to be seen if anything actually becomes of them, but since I'm aching for some MLS chatter and 2012 MLS SuperDraft doesn't kick off until next week, this will hopefully keep our minds active.
So here we go!
1. The Portland Timbers will reach the 2012 play-offs
We'll start off with an easy one. Fact of the matter is that the 2011 Timbers only barely managed to avoid getting into the play-offs and since much of the starting 11 is still there and the Timbers FO is focusing on shoring up key aspects in the off season it stands to reason that they should make the play-offs in the upcoming season. What they do in the play-offs, however, I won't even begin to predict.2. Another big signing is coming, possibly a DP
The Timbers are currently using two of their Designated Player spots on Diego Chara and Jose Adolfo Valencia. That leaves a third spot open. Now, I'm not saying that the Timbers will splurge on another DP, but it wouldn't surprise me. All I'm saying is that we'll see another "big name" come in in some fashion. Could it be Jonathan Bornstein (who is a serviceable MLS left back)? Whispers had it that he was unhappy at Tigres de la UANL.
3. A big name will get traded away
The Timbers currently have on roster six layers who I'd consider to be "big names" for the team: Kenny Cooper, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Jose Adolfo Valencia, Darlington Nagbe and Kalif Alhassan (purely opinion, no justification needed). My guess is that one of those players will get traded or sold. Which one though? Kenny Cooper would be the obvious pick given his recent resurgence late in the season and that he would fetch a pretty penny. Alhassan, however, I could also see getting traded away. While he's a remarkable youth, he's also very valuable. If he performs well enough in the first half of the season, we could see some larger teams come sniffing around.
4. Jeld-Wen Field will be renamed
Between filing for bankruptcy and selling off 58% of itself to the Onex Corporation it started to sound like the naming rights to Jeld-Wen Field might not be all that necessary. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Onex bought the rest of Jeld-Wen Field and renamed the field as part of the deal similar to the Qwest-CenturyLink deal that happened up in Seattle. Personally, I'd prefer it if we just went back to PGE.
5. It's going to be another sold out, hard-to-find tickets year for the Timbers
Probably the easiest guess, but with the Timbers becoming such a household name in the city and the buzz still very palpable due to the atmosphere and experience, my guess is that the Timbers FO is going to have no problem filling in those extra 2,000-ish seats they're adding. I'll add an addendum on to this prediction as well: by the end of the 2012 season the Timbers will be back at a 5,000+ waiting list for season tickets.
So what do you think? Don't be too harsh on me if you disagree. These are just fun guesses. Sound off with your own predictions as well!