Given that I wimped out on publishing my MLS playoff predictions then proceeded to pick every single series correctly all the way through to the cup final — no, really, I swear — I figured it was time to put some of these to paper.
To ring in the new year, here are 15 soccer-related predictions for 2015:
15. L.A. Galaxy forward Robbie Keane will win the MLS golden boot, edging out Sporting Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer and Seattle’s Obafemi Martins in a race that goes down to the final weekend.
14. Minnesota will be unveiled as Major League Soccer’s 24th franchise, settling the 24-by-2020 hysteria once and for all — then David Beckham’s will finally admit defeat in trying to build a stadium in Miami to set it right back in motion.
13. Bayern Munich will win the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea will win the English Premier League and Real Madrid will win La Liga. Yes, I’m as bummed out about as you are. And yes, sometimes money can, in fact, buy you love.
12. The MLS regular season will start on time, with little labor turmoil yet few real changes to the league’s power structure.
11. Frank Lampard will play in fewer than 10 league games for New York City FC.
10. The Eastern Conference will be so wide open that one of the expansion clubs will sneak into the playoffs — looking at you, Orlando City.
9. One of L.A., Seattle and Salt Lake will miss the postseason for the first time since 2008, leading to a new level of indignation about the imbalance of the conferences.
8. The Ivory Coast will defeat Burkina Faso in the championship match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, its golden generation finally lifting a major trophy.
7. Mexico will win the 2015 Gold Cup and, with it, an inside track to the 2017 Confederation’s Cup in Russia. The United States won’t even make it to the final, getting knocked out by Costa Rica in the semis.
6. Gedion Zelalem will be the subject of more unsubstantiated MLS loan rumors than Ronaldinho but none of them will come to pass.
5. Jozy Altidore will sign with the New York Red Bulls.
4. New England’s Jay Heaps will win MLS coach of the year, leading to a barrage of think-pieces about the new era of former-players-turned-coaches taking over the league.
3. Revs midfielder Lee Nguyen will win MLS MVP.
2. The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers will face off in the Western Conference finals.
1. The New England Revolution will win both the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, making it the first team to achieving the feat since the 2011 L.A. Galaxy.