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Saturday, March 14, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: March 15, 3:38 PM UK
Conrad's fail-safe predictions for the 2009 MLS season

Jimmy Conrad

Friends,

I implore you to stop what you're doing, sit down, put your feet up, tell the powers that be that you'll get back to them in five minutes, hit mute on the television, turn off the radio, put your phone on vibrate, make the kids go play outside, and relax to every word I'm about to subject you to. Consider it a free brain massage.

After a decade of soccer-related decadence, I tend to believe that I have my finger on the pulse on a variety of goings-on in a variety of things and thankfully, due to my good looks and charm, I have been given the outlet to express myself. Now, I would like to take this moment to state publicly that I'm not claiming to know everything -- I'm not a robot, as a select few would like me to be. However, after 10 years of plying my trade in Major League Soccer, I've seen it all: success, disappointment, locker room drama, unlimited amounts of hair product used by Nick Garcia, tears, cheers, broken bones, anger, regret, high-fives, butt slaps, concussions, egomaniacs, fights, uninhibited joy, hugs, groupies, philosophical differences, choice expletives, hypocrites, ice baths, and my favorite, good laughs.

Mix in the maturation of the league on the development side that I've witnessed since I started, like plans for soccer-specific stadiums for every team, smart expansion to hungry markets, the development of youth academies to identify homegrown talent, and the semi-followed, continually changing but never regulated rules that are (sort of) in place, and I think I have enough ammo to lend me a viable air of credibility when it comes to making predictions.

So for the first time, in what I can only describe as my well-documented career, I will offer predictions on what is going to transpire during the 2009 MLS season. For the first time, through this 10-year social study that I have been conducting as a player in MLS, I am going to reveal the constants that I know to exist no matter what is happening around the world, in your living rooms, or in my mind. For the first time, I'm going to stop my incoherent rambling "early" and get right to it.

MY 100 percent MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE, FAIL-SAFE PREDICTIONS FOR THE 2009 MLS SEASON

Prediction

D.C. United midfielder/assistant coach Ben Olsen will be in every commercial MLS puts out this year.

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Prediction

MLS will air said Ben Olsen commercials only during MLS telecasts.

SIDE RANT: Which, let's be honest, defeats the purpose. We have those fans already! I want to see Ben being a corporate shill between Jack Bauer ass-kicking sessions or after Ryan Seacrest says "out" or when Oprah hands out keys to a car for every person in her studio audience. I want Ben hawking MLS merchandise on QVC and selling unwearable jewelry and a hundred of my jerseys in 15 minutes. I want Ben to stop hiding behind his beard and high-end sunglasses, a la Joaquin Phoenix, and fulfill his destiny as the face of the league like the Verizon guy does for Verizon. Hey Ben, can you hear me now?

Prediction

In his effort to wear tighter and tighter uniforms, New England Revolution forward/resident heartthrob Taylor Twellman will debut the first all-spandex MLS jersey and shorts. Initial reactions from fans will vary from:

"Does his head look even bigger now?" to "Why does my wife want to get season tickets all of a sudden?"

Prediction

Former Los Angeles Galaxy coach Steve Sampson will continue to tell anybody within earshot that the last time the Galaxy were any good, he was in charge.

Prediction

MLS Extra Time host, New England Revolution color commentator, and Goal.com columnist Greg Lalas will take shots at a player's lack of professionalism at some point during the season -- but then get caught on camera drinking a beer during a live telecast.

Prediction

The old San Jose Earthquakes, now known as the Houston Dynamo, will start the season off very, very slow and set a league record with 10 consecutive ties and 10 consecutive bench-clearing fights before ending up as the top team in the Western Conference. Also, Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad will publicly state that he will play until he is 50.

SIDE RANT: Happy 50th next year, Pat!

Prediction

The new San Jose Earthquakes, now known as the San Jose Earthquakes, will be the most improved team from the year before. Also, San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon will finally find an outlet to solve his endless excess energy issue by suiting up for San Jose's women's professional soccer team, the Gold Rush, as Josephine Cannon.

SIDE RANT: Now he can finally put his autographed Brandi Chastain sports bra to good use.

Prediction

MLS Primetime
March 19
Seattle vs. New York
Qwest Field, Seattle
9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Reigning MLS Coach of the Year Sigi Schmid will bring his superstitious ways to his role as the newly appointed boss of the newly anointed MLS franchise, Seattle Sounders FC. Last year, while leading the Columbus Crew to MLS Cup glory, Coach Schmid religiously wore a Crew scarf (given to him by a fan) no matter how hot or cold or uncomfortable he appeared, and sure enough, the team won the championship. Since he can't wear a Crew scarf while representing the Sounders, he will be in the market for a new knickknack to swear his allegiance to.

As the season begins in true expansion team style and the wins aren't coming in bunches, Coach Schmid will discard countless trinkets that he thought were going to be the ONE. But when nothing gives him the consistency he seeks, he will don the one item left to try: a paper bag complete with eyeholes and an opening to breathe.

The Sounders will then go on to win their next three games and Coach Schmid will wear the bag on his head for the rest of the year.

SIDE RANT: Can someone in Seattle please make one of these for your new coach and tell him, "Jimmy wanted you to have this for luck"?

Prediction

Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare will be named to People magazine's best dressed list. Upon being asked what this recognition means to him, Baky will shrug and say, "I would like to apologize to all the other athletes who were up for this honor. But when you look as good as I do, what are you going to do?"

Prediction

Similar to the situation when New England Patriots QB Tom Brady tripped and fumbled a ball in a big NFL game and blamed the grass -- which prompted the owners of the team to put brand-new sports turf in Gillette Stadium one week later -- new Toronto FC forward/midfielder Dwayne De Rosario will miss a huge penalty kick and blame the sports turf, leading to the installation of a new grass field for the first time in Toronto FC history.

Players from across the continent of North America, together with their knees and ankles, will rejoice in the news.

Prediction

In an unprecedented move to prove he is indeed the nicest guy in all of Major League Soccer, FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper will publicly state that he will pay for the gas expenses of every FC Dallas fan who drives up to see a game from the city of Dallas.

SIDE RANT: Current nicest guy in Major League Soccer, Los Angeles Galaxy defender Chris Klein, could not be reached when asked to comment about the turn of events in these "nice guy" proceedings which, for me, is the first sign that we are seeing some chinks in his "nice guy" armor. Don't go down without a fight, Kleiner.

Prediction

Jimmy Conrad will mock some of his friends for his ESPN piece and they won't talk to him anymore.

SIDE RANT: If I had known this is all it took, I would've done it years ago.

Prediction

MLS commissioner Don Garber will ask to be addressed only as "the Don" from here on out. Kissing his hand is still optional.

Prediction

Major League Soccer will ask Barcelona FC to play against MLS' best players in the 2009 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.

Barcelona will refuse due to Salt Lake City's involvement with Real Salt Lake, whose namesake is its hated rival in Spain, Real Madrid.

Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman will vow revenge.

Barcelona FC superstar Lionel Messi will mock the situation in the local Spanish papers.

Real Salt Lake president Dave Checketts will threaten to beat up Messi if he sees him on the street.

Barcelona FC will demand a public apology from Mr. Checketts.

Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis will stand on the sideline, in his little coaches' box, wearing a smart suit, and remain the only coach in MLS history to sport a faux-hawk.

SIDE RANT: I don't know where I'm going with this and I usually don't.

Enjoy the 2009 MLS season.

Jimmy Conrad is a defender for the U.S. national team and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. He contributes regularly to ESPNsoccernet and can be reached at Jimmy@JimmyConrad.com.




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