Gary Smith: He’s Full of Eastern Predictions!

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Published on September 10, 2013 with 8 Comments

Smith thinks Houston but not the Revs will qualify

Smith thinks Houston but not the Revs will qualify / Kari Heistad

Eastern Conference; play off race.

Following on from the Western Conference I’d like to take a similar look at the Eastern conference and the challenges that lie in front for the teams in these remaining make or break games.

The top 3 in the East look to be taken care of, it’s how they finish that dictates the seeding, home advantage and vital momentum going into their playoff games.  DC and Toronto are out of any equation and given the news at Toronto last week, regarding Kevin Payne and the insistence in DC to use the younger players, they are both starting preparations for next season.

My top 5 looks like this.

In pole position are NY.  The Red Bulls made many off season changes both on and off the field.  Mike Petke and Robin Fraser took over the team and Andy Roxburgh came in as Technical Director.

There were plenty of  trades for the team as well. Arriving were Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola, Eric Alexander, Johnny Steele and my old pal Kosuke Kimura to name but a few. The team’s away form up until Sunday night has been less than convincing  though and there has also been the well-publicised bust up between Petke and Thierry Henry.

These may provide reasons to discard them as Conference Champions,  however this squad is extremely talented and the options they possess up front and the creative addition of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam contains  goals.  Their home form has been terrific and with four league games left at home and only two away the run-in looks very inviting for NYRB.

In second place, I see Montreal.  This  team with new head coach Schallibaum  started like a train, early victories in the league and the capture of the  Canadian Cup, has given everyone belief and a healthy buffer.  Added fixtures through CONCACAF will make fatigue and squad rotation key areas to monitor but their 2 games in hand on Kansas will prove decisive for the 2nd spot.

I am predicting that Kansas will finish 3rd and that will be a major blow for the Eastern Conference (regular season) Champs for the last 2 seasons, especially as this team is arguably their strongest.  The ever reliable back four of last year has been a little leaky this year and though they have good options in attacking positions the experience and power of Kai Kamara, newly arrived in Middlesbrough, will be missed.

Montreal began the season with a win

Montreal began the season with a win / Mike Russell

4th and 5th places are harder to call.  None of the remaining contenders are in particularly good form and these home stretch games are about dealing with pressure and taking advantage of home games.

For me Houston have the credentials to snatch 4th.  Dominic Kinnear will be studying the schedule and prioritising particular games.  Many of this squad have been in this pressure cooker environment before, however the big personalities in the locker room, Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark and Brian Ching will have to drag every last drop out of the rest of the group.

Chicago steal into 5th and the chance to progress against Houston in the play-in game.  Frank Klopas I believe made some of the best signings in MLS this last off season.  Of course I am biased because the men played for me in Colorado,  but the additions of Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson gave the group some grit and determination.

Joel Lindpere and Dilly Duka add some craft and the mid-season signings of Bakary Soumare and Mike Magee should have lifted everyone, but for some reason this well balanced group have stuttered and spluttered. This is their last chance to capitalise and they need to make it count.

New England who have had a good season and upsurge under Jay Heaps will lack the nerve and reliability to make the post season in my opinion and Columbus Crew have too much ground to make up for a side who haven’t won away from home this year.

One thing is for sure the run for the playoffs will provide some great excitement and entertainment as all the teams involved are so evenly matched.

Good luck to all and let the sleepless nights begin!

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8 Comments

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  1. “I am predicting that Kansas will finish 3rd and that will be a major blow for the Eastern Conference (regular season) Champs for the last 2 seasons, especially as this team is arguably their strongest. The ever reliable back four of last year has been a little leaky this year and though they have good options in attacking positions the experience and power of Kai Kamara, newly arrived in Middlesbrough, will be missed.”

    First it’s Kansas City. Unlike Europe where City is often applied as a designation to differentiate one club from another within the same city, the name of Kansas City is Kansas City on both sides of the state line (Missouri and Kansas). Second if by “leaky” he means tied for the league lead for fewest goals allowed, then yes SKC has been leaky. One might think the absence of Kamara would be a problem but with the development of Saad and Dwyer and the unexpected recent form of Sapong it appears the team will manage to muddle through.

    Given these comments and the general assessment of each team (Chicago? Really?) one has to wonder if Gary is even paying attention to the league anymore.

    • “Unlike Europe where City is often applied as a designation to differentiate one club from another within the same city”

      Sorry MJC,

      But that’s rubbish. The name City is only used to differentiate clubs in two places, Bristol and Manchester. With every other club using that monicker, it’s use is to show that the home town has been recognised as a ‘city’ rather than a ‘town’.

      But even in those two municipalities where you might have been right, you are wrong.

      Bristol City adopted the term as a result of turning professional in 1897 two years BEFORE the club across town became Bristol Rovers and Manchester City adopted the term “City” in 1894, when there was no other team with “Manchester” in their name; United still being called Newton Heath until 1902.

      So one could refer to the team from St Andrews at Birmingham City or just Birmingham for short, exactly like Gary did. The English league does not start and end in Manchester. Likewise Norwich City fans do not make a fuss when they are referred to as Norwich.

      I am sure Gary will appreciate the lesson on English football terminology though even if it was totally misinformed.

      That said, if SKC finish higher than third, please feel free to come back and crow about how he was wrong in his predictions. That’s fair game.

      • If Gary is going use a single word for Sporting Kansas City shouldn’t it be the first word of their name not the middle word? So Gary should call them “Sporting” not “Kansas” because their name is Sporting Kansas City not Kansas City. Unless Gary calls Real Salt Lake, Salt. Which would be equivalent; because Kansas City and Salt Lake are the cities in which the clubs play. The same goes for Toronto FC. The Inverse is also true for clubs like the LA Galaxy or FC Dallas where the third word is used as their moniker. Not that using a middle word of a club’s name as their moniker is not done, as the Seattle Sounders FC can be either referred to as “Seattle” or “the Sounders”. And picking Norwich City does not really work because they play in and are from Norwich not Norwich City, where as Sporting are from Kansas City not Kansas, although yes that is the state they play in, unlike Colorado, it is not proper to say Kansas. For Norwich the equivalent would be to call them Norfolk.

        Although this is all really silly because Sporting is going to win the East again, if not the Supporters’ Shield as well. Just like ManU is going to win the BPL until they don’t so…. the English League does kind of start and end in Manchester doesn’t it?

        So with all due respect it is Sporting or Kansas City not Kansas. MJC reasoning may be “rubbish” but SKC should be properly refereed to as either SKC or Sporting or Kansas City or Sporting Kansas City.

        • “If Gary is going use a single word for Sporting Kansas City shouldn’t it be the first word of their name not the middle word? So Gary should call them “Sporting” not “Kansas” because their name is Sporting Kansas City not Kansas City. Unless Gary calls Real Salt Lake, Salt.”

          Actually he calls them a lot worse!

        • Actually, its official name is “Salt Lake City”, which sort of makes your whole argument rather convoluted.

          • Actually, you’ve given me an idea. The MLS guide to wrong terminology.

            Here’s what NOT to call MLS clubs:

            The United or the DC
            Real Salt Lake City
            Vancouver Caps
            Seattle FC
            PTFC (they are neither the first, nor the real one ;-) )
            Chivas US
            Bus
            Dallas FC
            Toronto FC Nil*
            San Jose Quakes
            New Jersey Red Bulls
            Any version of Sporting Kansas City except the one that pleases the fan who is reading it

            *Actually that one may be ok

  2. Editor you may well be right. Needless to say I’m not European but I am a native of Kansas City and referring to our team as Kansas is totally and wholly incorrect. When referring to Sporting Kansas City, SKC or Sporting are fine but Kansas is not. Kansas is a state not the city in which the club is located.

    And I note you have no answer for the “rubbish” that was Mr. Smith’s reasoning in his predictions. Leaky in describing the best defense in the league still makes me laugh. And to your point about calling SKC a lot worse I’m sure he did as after the first two times he played them he was 0-4-4. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    • “Kansas is a state not the city in which the club is located.”

      And had I been refering to the city itself, you may have had a point. But I am refering (obviously) to the football club not the municipality, a point you repeatedly ignore for reasons that escape me.

      “And to your point about calling SKC a lot worse I’m sure he did as after the first two times he played them he was 0-4-4. Sounds like sour grapes to me.”

      I wrote that he called RSL a lot worse. Do keep up. ;-)

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