NAILED IT! Well almost. Last year I correctly picked all four division winners, six of the eight playoff teams, and one of the finalists. I was within four wins, plus or minus, on 14 of the 16 teams, and guessed one team’s record on the nose.
This year blew that out of the water. I predicted all four division winners, all eight playoff teams, and the Ron Newman Cup champs. Only a blown lead by the San Diego Sockers in the Western Conference Final marred a perfect playoff bracket. I was within four wins on 16 of 17 teams, only missing badly on a Mississauga MetroStars expansion team I seriously overrated.
I predicted three teams’ records exactly and was within two wins on nine teams this year, compared to seven teams last year.
Most boldly I predicted a 3-19 Rio Grande Valley Barracudas team would improve to 14-10 (and they exceeded even those lofty expectations) and predicted an El Paso Coyotes team that improved by 11 wins last year would drop to 5-19 (outdone again). I predicted a Kansas City Comets six-win improvement on the button.
I got into trouble early with the St. Louis Ambush, who quickly exceeded my projected win total, but a 1-5 finish down the stretch stopped the bleeding.
My worst prediction was the league’s only expansion team. I put too much faith in an August exhibition game where several MetroStars were playing for Team Canada against the Baltimore Blast. The Canadian team was augmented with players like Vahid Assadpour and Marco Terminesi and played over their heads. LeRohne Young, who had two goals in that game, was released in January, and Luis Rocha made more impact in that one exhibition game than he did in his 12 MASL games combined this season.
Much was made of a Facebook post I made during the playoffs where I said the only question left is whether the San Diego Sockers would lose in the Conference Final to the Monterrey Flash, or in the Final against Baltimore.
Baltimore had just pulled off another unlikely victory over Utica City FC and there was an air of inevitability pointing to another against-all-odds Blast championship. I was resigned to a dystopian future where the Blast continued to win the Ron Newman Cup every year. While the off-the-cuff comment provoked the ire of Wave fans, the Sockers did, indeed, see their 23-game winning streak halted by Monterrey and the Blast were a crossbar away from tying their game with Milwaukee in the final four seconds.
Despite that lapse in faith, it was the Wave who won as I predicted back in November. Milwaukee’s win is the culmination of a multi-year progression. Last year they fell short in the Eastern Conference Final (we had them pegged to lose to Monterrey in the Final), but lost Robert Renaud at midseason and were missing Josh Lemos for several games including the first round of the playoffs. With everyone healthy at the right time the Wave were able to close the deal this season.
|St. Louis Ambush||6-18||10-14||+4|
|San Diego Sockers||19-5||23-1||+4|
|Utica City FC||14-10||17-7||+3|
|Rio Grande Valley Barracudas||14-10||16-8||+2|
|Kansas City Comets||13-11||13-11||—|
|El Paso Coyotes||5-19||3-21||-2|
Monterrey>Rio Grande Valley
Newman Cup Finals