In this one, members of the BTS team (and a special guest) do their best to predict the Vancouver and MLS 2020 season, by answering a set of questions on both the ‘Caps and the rest of the league.
After a long wait, MLS is finally back, with a busy slate of games on tap this weekend.
As MLS heads into its 25th season, this promises to be one of the most interesting ones yet, with this offseason being among one of the more impactful in league history.
From the signing of a new CBA deal, to heavy investment from teams all around the league, and yet another round of expansion arrivals, Inter Miami and Nashville, there has been no shortage of movement on and off the pitch all around North America, all leading to the start of the 2020 campaign.
For the Vancouver Whitecaps, it promises to be one of the more interesting ones in recent memory. After two tough campaigns on the pitch, coupled with heavy turnover both on and off of the field, they head into this one looking to earn back the goodwill of fans, with many of the Vancouver faithful abandoning the ship ahead of this season.
Citing reasons such as performance, dissatisfaction with off-the-field moves and more, it leaves the ‘Caps heading into an interesting 10th season in MLS, as they look to bring back the fans that once gave them one of the more feared home pitches in MLS.
Despite an offseason where the club splashed out a good chunk of money on a handful of promising 26 and under talent, including a club-record fee on Canadian International striker Lucas Cavallini, some fans have reached a breaking point, so now it’s up to the team to win them back.
That’ll start on the pitch, right from the get-go, as the team looks to prove despite the lack of a real ‘big name’, one that would elicit a reaction from even the most casual of a fan, that the players they added can one day be those coveted ‘big names’.
MLS is looking to become a selling league, so that stories of players such as Alphonso Davies, Tyler Adams and Miguel Almiron, all exported talents playing big minutes at well-known clubs abroad, become a regular occurrence in the league.
But while the league itself promises to have no shortage of storylines for all clubs, especially the ‘Caps, what better way to kick off the season than by making predictions, ones that will likely be held against you in a few months’ time.
Have the Whitecaps done enough? Who will stand out on the team? How will their best players perform? Can the new guys make a difference? What should we expect from around MLS?
Some members of our team, plus a special guest, Beau Chevalier of B&G media, have given their best shot at predicting the answers to those questions. Will some of them be wrong? Absolutely, but considering that some could be right, this will be a fun exercise to return to in 1, 2 and 6 months from now.
Section 1: Whitecaps Predictions:
Alexandre Gangue-Ruzic, BTSVancity: Hwang In Beom
Beau Chevalier, B&G Media: Lucas Cavallini
Ben Steiner, BTSVancity/49 Sport: Maxime Crepeau
Bryan Woodward, BTSVancity: Hwang In Beom
Felix Todd, BTSVancity: Yordy Reyna
A wide range of choices for the MVP here. Alex and Bryan go for the South Korean midfield lynchpin, Hwang In Beom, whos projected to have a big season, while Ben goes for Maxime Crepeau, the 2019 ‘Caps MVP. Beau goes for the new talisman, Cavallini, whereas Felix goes most off of the board, picking Yordy Reyna, but he could be onto something there, as Reyna has been one of the best statistical performers at his position in the past.
Golden Boot (# of goals)
Alex: Lucas Cavallini (15)
Beau: Lucas Cavallini (16)
Ben: Lucas Cavallini (14)
Bryan: Lucas Cavallini (20)
Felix: Fredy Montero (14)
A more general consensus was reached here, with most going for the $6 million man, Lucas Cavallini, with the range being between 14 and 20 goals. Felix comes in hot on this one, projecting Montero finds his old form, which could be possible, especially if he plays regularly alongside Cavallini, with most of the defensive attention going to the Canadian in that potential pairing.
Newcomer of the year:
Alex: Lucas Cavallini
Beau: Leonard Owusu
Ben: Lucas Cavallini
Bryan: David Milinkovic
Felix: Cristian Dajome
Interesting mix here, as despite Cavallini’s high projected goal total, most decided to select another newcomer of the year, most likely to avoid giving Cavallini too much silverware. Alex and Ben weren’t too worried about that, selecting the Canadian, with Bryan instead going for the preseason standout, Milinkovic, while Beau and Felix eleceted to go for Owusu and Dajome, respectively.
Alex: Derek Cornelius
Beau: Hwang In Beom
Ben: David Milinkovic
Bryan: Leonard Owusu
Felix: Jake Nerwinski
For the unsung hero, no consensus was quite reached, with a different player getting love here. For Alex, that was Cornelius, the Canadian defender, while Felix stuck with a similar defensive theme, going for the 4th-year Jake Nerwinski. Beau and Bryan felt their choice would be best suited in the midfield, with Beau going for In Beom, while Bryan decided Owusu was his man, with Ben rounding things off with Milinkovic, the new ‘Caps #7.
Alex: Jake Nerwinski
Beau: Theo Bair
Ben: Ryan Raposo
Bryan: Patrick Metcalfe
Felix: Theo Bair
Once again, the vote remains mostly split here, with Beau and Felix going for Theo Bair, who was arguably the second biggest breakout story on the ‘Caps after Max Crepeau in 2019, while Ben went for the rookie, Ryan Raposo. Bryan went a similar route as Ben, picking MLS rookie Patrick Metcalfe, while Alex went with the oldest choice among the 5, picking Jake Nerwinski.
Alex: Finals loss
Ben: Finals loss
Felix: Finals loss
A surprisingly narrow set of predictions, as everyone expects the ‘Caps to make the Voyageurs Cup final, which is fair considering that they’re the only MLS team on their side of the bracket, but as know after last year, even that might not be such a sure bet. Not everyone expects them to be victorious, however, with Felix, Ben and Alex suggesting that a finals loss is the likely outcome, while Beau and Bryan suggest the contrary, predicting that the ‘Caps lift their 2nd-ever Voyageurs Cup crown.
Alex: Ali Adnan gets more yellow cards than assists, meanwhile Max Crepeau gets an assist
Beau: The ‘Caps start 5 homegrowns in a game
Ben: Ryan Raposo scores 5 goals
Bryan: B&G Media predicts every game correctly
Felix: Marc Dos Santos makes all 3 subs every game
In the wacky prediction section, everyone comes in hot, with Beau and Ben supporting the youth movement, as Beau predicts the ‘Caps will at one point throw 5 homegrowns in to start a match (all competitions), while Ben expects a possible scoring spree from Ryan Raposo. Alex went for a passing theme, with him predicting that Ali Adnan gets more yellow cards than assists, and that Max Crepeau picks up one of his own, while Felix expects at least 102 substitutions in MLS action this year, plus more in the Canadian Championship and maybe playoffs. Bryan comes in hottest of the 4, however, predicting that Beau gets every single game projection bang on, putting a lot of pressure on B and G Media to succeed.
Second part: Over/Under
Whitecaps get 45 points
Call it proximity bias, but everyone is bullish on the ‘Caps, with everyone projecting at least an 11 point growth from last year. Considering that’s only 4 more wins, it’s not that hot, but based on other expert predictions, it is an unpopular take. Alex is the only one not to vote over, however, going for the even, but considering he set the over/under, that’s not too surprising.
Cavallini scores 15:
Despite the agreement above, there was a perfect split on Cavallini’s tally, however, as Alex goes for the even 15, while Beau and Bryan shoot for the over, with Felix and Ben rounding things off with the under. Given that over 15 goals is typically a top 10 MLS tally, it might be ambitious, but it’s realistic, especially considering Cavallini’s past proficiency. Felix and Ben aren’t so keen on that happening, though, so we’ll have to see who toed the right side of the line come October.
Max Crepeau gets 8 clean sheets:
After seeing the 2019 ‘Caps MVP record 5 clean sheets last year, only Bryan is keen on him pushing that number above 8 this year, while Alex once again goes for the even and says he hits 8 on the nose. Beau, Ben and Felix all believe a similar output to last year is the most realistic outcome, all voting for the under, instead.
Ali Adnan gets 7 assists:
Beau: Over (he’ll be on set-piece duty so…)
Once again, the room is split on this one, with the Iraqi international’s offensive output generating lots of debate. Alex and Bryan think 7 assists is too many, while Beau, Ben and Felix think it’s not enough, so watch him either hit 7 on the nose, or prove one of the two camps correct. Beau does think him being on a lot of set-pieces will help, however, so do keep an eye on that.
Yordy Reyna gets 12 combined goals+assists
Despite the split on many other players, a general consensus was reached for the performance of Yordy Reyna, with everyone expecting at least 12 combined goals and assists. Alex is the only one not to select the over, as he once again goes for the even, but it’s still an ambitious prediction from everyone involved.
Section 3: MLS predictions
Alex: Alejandro Pozuelo
Beau: Josef Martinez
Ben: Carlos Vela
Bryan: Carlos Vela
Felix: Maxi Moralez
Moving onto the MLS predictions, the team remains split once again, with the topic of MVP offering a few different names. Ben and Bryan expect that to be Carlos Vela once again, which is a very safe bet considering his 2 goal performance in Champions League this week, while Alex and Felix show some love to attacking midfielders, selecting Alejandro Pozuelo from TFC and Maxi Moralez from New York, respectively. Beau goes for the Atlanta dangerman, Josef Martinez, to round off the list.
MLS Golden Boot:
Beau: Josef Martinez
Ben: Carlos Vela
As for the leading marksman, the usual suspects lead the way, with former winners Carlos Vela and Josef Martinez getting some love from Ben and Beau respectively. Felix and Bryan elect to go for a fresh face, with Chicharito getting their vote, while Alex shows some love for NYCFC, selecting Heber to lead the way in goals.
Eastern Conference standings:
|1||Philadelphia Union||Atlanta United||Toronto FC||Atlanta United||New York City FC|
|2||Toronto FC||New York City FC||Atlanta United||Orlando City||Columbus Crew|
|3||Atlanta United||Toronto FC||New York City FC||Toronto FC||Toronto FC|
|4||New York City FC||DC United||New York Red Bulls||New York City FC||New England Revolution|
|5||Columbus Crew||Columbus Crew||DC United||Montreal Impact||Atlanta United|
|6||DC United||Philadelphia Union||Montreal Impact||Inter Miami||Montreal Impact|
|7||New York Red Bulls||New England Revolution||Inter Miami||Chicago Fire||Chicago Fire|
|8||Montreal Impact||New York Red Bulls||Philadelphia Union||New York Red Bulls||New York Red Bulls|
|9||Chicago Fire||Inter Miami||Chicago Fire||DC United||Philadelphia Union|
|10||New England Revolution||Chicago Fire||New England Revolution||FC Cincinnati||Orlando City|
|11||Inter Miami||Orlando City||Orlando City||New England Revolution||Inter Miami|
|12||Orlando City||Montreal Impact||Colombus Crew||Columbus Crew||FC Cincinnati|
|13||FC Cincinnati||FC Cincinnati||FC Cincinnati||Philadelphia Union||DC United|
Western Conference Standings:
|1||Minnesota United||LAFC||LA Galaxy||LAFC||Seattle Sounders|
|2||LAFC||LA Galaxy||LAFC||Minnesota United||Minnesota United|
|3||Seattle Sounders||Seattle Sounders||Seattle Sounders||LA Galaxy||LAFC|
|4||LA Galaxy||Minnesota United||Sporting Kansas City||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||LA Galaxy|
|5||Colorado Rapids||Real Salt Lake||Vancouver Whitecaps||Portland Timbers||Portland Timbers|
|6||San Jose Earthquakes||Vancouver Whitecaps||Portland Timbers||Sporting Kansas City||Real Salt Lake|
|7||Portland Timbers||Sporting KC||Minnesota United||Seattle Sounders||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|8||Sporting Kansas City||Portland Timbers||Colorado Rapids||Real Salt Lake||San Jose Earthquakes|
|9||Vancouver Whitecaps||San Jose Earthquakes||San Jose Earthquakes||San Jose Earthquakes||FC Dallas|
|10||Real Salt Lake||Houston Dynamo||Real Salt Lake||FC Dallas||Houston Dynamo|
|11||FC Dallas||Colorado Rapids||FC Dallas||Houston Dynamo||Sporting Kansas City|
|12||Houston Dynamo||FC Dallas||Houston Dynamo||Colorado Rapids||Colorado Rapids|
|13||Nashville SC||Nashville SC||Nashville SC||Nashville SC||Nashville SC|
MLS Cup Final (Champion)
Alex: New York City FC vs LAFC (NYCFC)
Beau: Toronto FC vs LAFC (LAFC)
Ben: Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy (Atlanta)
Bryan: Atlanta United vs LAFC (LAFC)
Felix: New York City FC vs Minnesota United (NYCFC)
To round things off, the MLS Cup Final predictions were surprisingly similar, with Alex, Beau and Bryan expecting LAFC to be Western finalists, with Felix and Ben changing things up by going for Minnesota and LA Galaxy, respectively. In the East, things were more split, with Alex and Felix going for New York City, while Bryan and Ben elected to go with Atlanta United, with Bryan on his own with his Toronto FC prediction. As for the champion, things were split, with Beau and Bryan going for LAFC, while Alex and Felix decided it would be NYCFC, with no one else joining Ben and his Atlanta pick.
We’ll have to definitely return to these in the future, but overall, it was a fun exercise to have everyone get involved in. In a hard to predict MLS, why not throw caution to the wind and fill this with hot takes, with time only telling us how right or wrong we were.
Special thanks to Alex, Beau, Ben, Bryan and Felix for participating, to find their work, you can do so at all of their various handles, which are linked below.
Alex: Twitter: @AlexGangueRuzic and @btsvancity
Ben: Twitter: @BenSteiner00 and @49SPORTNET
Beau: Twitter:@beauchevalier_ and @b_and_gmedia Instagram: @bg.media
Bryan: Not on Twitter, sometimes found at @btsvancity on Twitter and Instagram, while his work can be found at https://btsvancity.com/author/bryanw17/
Felix: Not on Twitter, but can be found at https://btsvancity.com/author/felixtodd/