2006 MLS Playoffs: Who Misses Out?
It's early, but already we can make a few guesses as to who will be on the receiving end of the YSA's in the fall (and, if blogs are known for one thing, it's speculating).
Things are a little different this season, because of the World Cup interrupting the season which hurts the better teams. Let's not forget that they will miss more time than just the actual cup because they have a camp ahead of time. So the World Cup players will be missing for a month and a half.
I feel that the one team who should be the biggest favorite to miss the playoffs in the East is the Wizards. They missed it last year, and have done little to improve. Not only that, they will be almost certainly missing their best player (Wolff) for the World Cup, that is if he doesn't get sold (as rumored). Sealy and Conrad could be called up as well.
The Revs should return, but any of the other four Eastern Conference teams could conceivably miss out. I don't know if I can separate them at this point in time. I will say that I am confident in Sigi Schmid's coaching ability (especially defensively), and I think they'll bounce back and book a playoff trip (although with 4/6 teams making it, that's not really going out on a limb).
I think DC and Chicago could drop off, but if I had to pick now, I would take the Metros just because well, they're the Metros. If Djorkaeff and Guevara miss time (very likely), they suddenly turn very ordinary.
As for the West, the LA and Houston are favorites to return. The Galaxy actually should improve, although they never were really that bad, they just had a lot of international callups. And they should have better players than the guys who are departing (Pando, Umana, Chinchilla).
RSL have shaken up the team, but it doesn't look like they've improved much. They appear to be headed down to last place, although they can't really do worse point-wise.
Chivas have Bradley, the draft, and a full season of Palencia/Garcia and friends. They will improve.
I guess I'll go with the Rapids to miss out. Clavijo has shaken up the team, but who knows how the various pieces like Mathis and Kirovski will fit. Also, Mastroeni is one of the biggest World cup losses for any team. That is if he's ever healthy. I do think Mathis will have a nice(r) year, but they don't inspire much confidence.
Dallas, even without Ruiz, are good enough to scrape into the playoffs. Along with the Metros, they probably have the most uncertain prospects this year.
Kansas City Wizards
Real Salt Lake