PST’s top 10 terrible (and spot-on) MLS preseason predictions

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The 2015 Major League Soccer (regular) season is in the books, and it played out exactly like everyone here at PST predicted it would. Yes, we were all exactly right.

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OK, that’s a big, fat lie, because we were smart silly enough to make predictions way back in March (read in full HERE), put our real, legal names to them and post them on the internet, where nothing is ever forgotten. In truth, some of us didn’t do so badly, while others (not naming names, you’ll have to read on) went for the upper-90 and skied our shots horribly.

Without further ado the best (and worst) of PST’s preseason MLS predictions…

10. Sporting KC win the Open Cup, to everyone’s surprise

Q: U.S. Open Cup winners?
Joe Prince-Wright and Kyle Lynch: Seattle Sounders
Andy Edwards: FC Dallas
Nicholas Mendola: New England Revolution
Kyle Bonn: LA Galaxy

Of the four unique picks found above, the PST braintrust selected two teams who were knocked out in the fourth round (Sounders and Revs – zero rounds advanced), one side that went out in the fifth round (FCD) and a single quarterfinalist (Galaxy – two rounds advanced). Congrats to Bonn, who came up only 270 minutes short of correctly picking the 2015 USOC winner.

9. Red Bulls win the Shield, to everyone’s surprise

Q: Supporters’ Shield winners?
JPW and Lynch: LA Galaxy
Edwards and Bonn: Seattle Sounders
Mendola: New England Revolution

We’re off to a pretty poor start here, but in our defense, let’s take a quick trip back in time, to early March. If anyone was predicting the New York Red Bulls to win the Shield in 2015, that’s because they are a Red Bulls supporter. The offseason they had just had — losing Thierry Henry, firing Mike Petke, the town-hall meeting — pointed toward a rebuilding year for RBNY, not a regular-season championship. *shrug* That’s MLS for ya.

8. MLS Cup winners still alive and kicking

Q: MLS Cup matchup?
JPW and Mendola: LA Galaxy vs. Toronto FC
Edwards: Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew SC
Lynch: LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution
Bonn: Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders

Hey, we all have a chance to be right about something. No one picked the top seed from either conference, though that’s OK because home-field advantage rarely translates to an MLS Cup appearance. I’m the only person to have picked a team with a knockout round bye (Crew SC). Any of the four unique matchups found above would be highly interesting finals.

7. TFC into the postseason

Q: Will Toronto FC (finally) make the playoffs?
All: Yes.

So, this one turned out to be fairly straightforward — TFC snuck in as the sixth seed (a full five points clear of the cut-off line, for what it’s worth). To have everyone on the same page, and no one thinking they’ll out-clever the rest of the group, was fairly impressive, though.

6. Gerrard and Lampard out-awful one another

Q: Better first six months in MLS — Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard?
JPW and Bonn: Gerrard.
Edwards, Mendola and Lynch: Lampard.

Nobody really wins here — most so fans of the Galaxy and NYCFC — because three months after their arrivals in MLS, neither Gerrard or Lampard have done anything to justify their 6.2 and $6 million annual salaries respectively (on the field, at least). Gerrard’s Galaxy are still alive in the playoffs, so he still has a chance to time warp and land in a much simpler time, say, 2010 or earlier, when he was still a mobile human being.

5. All aboard the NYCFC hype train

Q: Greater points tally — New York City FC or Orlando City SC?
All: New York City FC.

There were plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Manchester City’s experimental MLS spawn — and nearly every one of them came to pass — but how could you pick against Jason Kreis? The summer signing of Andrea Pirlo was an especially bitter pill to swallow for Kreis, who may or may not be around for a second season.

4. Picking Kaka over Giovinco, on an island all alone

Q: More goals/assists combined — Kaka or Sebastian Giovinco?
Edwards: Kaka. Caveat: If healthy, Kaka is the 2015 MVP. Let’s not forget this is the 2007 World Player of the Year, arguably the best player in the world for a time.

This wasn’t my worst pick of the preseason (don’t worry, that’s still to come), not by a long shot. Kaka wasn’t bad in his first MLS season (9 goals, 7 assists in 28 games played), but Giovinco was unreal in a way that MLS has never seen before (22 goals, 16 assists).

3. Faith in the Atomic Ant

Q: 2015 MLS MVP?
JPW: Sebastian Giovinco. How they managed to get the “Atomic Ant” I don’t know, but I’m glad they did. Wonderful talent.
Bonn: Giovinco. What a signing.

Any other player (read: human being) would have required some sort of an adjustment period upon coming to MLS. Giovinco? Nope. His first five MLS games: 3 goals, 2 assists. His next five games: 2 goals, 2 assists. His next 23 games: 17 goals, 12 assists. There is no debate about the 2015 MVP, so props to JPW and Bonn for nailing that one.

2. Nailed the West

Q: Who misses the playoffs in the West?
Edwards: Colorado, San Jose, Houston and Real Salt Lake

Obviously I get to toot my own horn here a bit, because 1) I’m writing this post, and 2) I was the only one to correctly predict the six playoffs teams in the Western Conference. It felt wrong to leave out RSL, but the proof is in the pudding. 34 weeks of soccer don’t lie. I’m pretty sure I would have gone 6-for-6 in the East if we had done it, too. /end sarcasm

1. Bernardo who?

Q: Who’s the Lee Nguyen-esque (veteran) Breakout Player of the year?
Edwards: Bernardo Anor. Quick — tell me what team Anor plays for. If you don’t know now, you will be April or May. Can’t believe Berhalter let him go.

There’s really no defense of this one. On paper, it seemed like a great signing — skilled wing player on a team lacking natural width, brings a load of MLS experience and in need of a change of scenery. Little did I know back then that Krisztian Nemeth would basically have the season I thought Anor would.

West Ham holds Newcastle 1-1 at St. James’ Park

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David Moyes and West Ham did what few have done this year, taking a point away from St. James’ Park following a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United on Saturday.

The hosts led very early through Callum Wilson but West Ham got a reply from Lucas Paqueta, whose backflip celebration was the last goal of the match but not the last chance.

WATCH NEWCASTLE vs WEST HAM FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Both teams missed goalmouth headers from Nayef Aguerd and Wilson, and either team could’ve come away with a win as the Magpies could not keep their energy and a midweek League Cup semifinal win over Saints while West Ham was off longer could’ve played its part.

Newcastle finishes the day fourth with 40 points, 10 back of Arsenal, while West Ham’s 19 points are one more than 18th-place Everton.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Stars of the Show

Nayef Aguerd

Anthony Gordon

Lucas Paqueta

Sven Botman

Kieran Trippier

Declan Rice


What’s next?

Newcastle goes to Bournemouth in what will be an emotional day for Eddie Howe and Callum Wilson as former Cherries. That kicks off 12:30pm ET on Feb. 11.

West Ham gets Chelsea at home on Saturday before going to Tottenham for another big London derby on Feb. 19.


Newcastle vs West Ham score: Mad start at St. James’ Park has it 1-1

Callum Wilson goal video

Lucas Paqueta goal video


How to watch Newcastle vs West Ham live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

The Magpies won’t have their best all-around player in influential Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, and center forward Alexander Isak will miss out following a head injury suffered against Saints. Sean Longstaff will need to shine again after scoring twice against Saints.

As for West Ham, they have three attackers out but can look to Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen to continue upturns in form.


Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Bruno Guimaraes (suspension), Alexander Isak (concussion), Javier Manquillo (undisclosed), Matt Targett (foot), Emil Krafth (knee)

West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Gianluca Scamacca (knee), Maxwel Cornet (calf), Kurt Zouma (thigh), Danny Ings (knee)

Wolves fire three past Liverpool as top-four miles away from Reds

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Liverpool can’t worry about its European positioning when it’s currently getting outfinished by relegation-threatened Wolves in a 3-0 affair at the Molineux on Saturday,

It’s the third meeting since early January between the sides following a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup and a 1-0 Liverpool win in the replay, and Wolves will feel they deserved the full three points in several ways.

WATCH WOLVES vs LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

A Joel Matip own goal after six minutes was worsened by Craig Dawson’s goal on debut for Wolves in the 12th minute, and Liverpool could not break down Julen Lopetegui’s defense despite Mohamed Salah’s best efforts.

Adama Traore tortured Liverpool’s lifeless defense to set up Ruben Neves’s 71st-minute goal, and the Molineux crowd was Ole-ing every last touch of a stoppage-time possession in utterly unpredictable fashion.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

The expected goals total was kinder to Liverpool, but that and the club’s current situation count for little more than a handshake; The Reds now sit 10 points outside the top four, the 10 next to their name wild given their status under Jurgen Klopp (even considered their terrible injury list).

Wolves entered the day in the bottom three and exits it in 15th with 20 points. That’s two points clear of the bottom three but the upward trajectory is real.


Lopetegui’s Wolves feast on wounded Reds

Injuries definitely start the story of this one, a 3-0 that was much closer on the xG scoreboard but just as divided in spirit.

Jurgen Klopp’s one-time mentality monsters looked mentality defeated, especially in front of either goal, as the boss exclaimed after the game — full comments below — that the club was lined up as directed but “passive, not active.”

Wolves, meanwhile, were very active, and Klopp would’ve wondered what might’ve been when Neves lashed in the third goal by darting between a collection of lined-up Liverpool backs to snap home the end product of Adama Traore’s robust work breaking the lines and conducting a trademark dribble.

The Reds have big holes by Darwin Nunez is snakebit in front of goal and Cody Gakpo may get there. At the moment, Liverpool’s entire attack seems to be, “Let’s hope Mo Salah cooks today.”

The Egyptian has been fine this year but nowhere near an even average day on Saturday. Thiago Alcantara was one of only a few to really show up in a loss that leaves the Reds fodder for Europa League qualification and not much else. Maybe the UCL route can open up for them.


Stars of the Show

Ruben Neves

Rayan Ait-Nouri

Matheus Nunes

Thiago Alcantara

Max Kilman

Wolves vs Liverpool
fotmob.com

Jurgen Klopp reaction: ‘I have no words for it’ (231 words later)

“Conceding early goals is not unfamiliar to us but the way we conceded them today was not acceptable. When you see the whole game, throughout the game in moments we played an outstanding game without scoring and a good away game without scoring, the third goal I don’t count because it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half. The other two goals, going into a game with all the things we said during the week and before the game then this is the start is horrible,” Klopp told BBC Match of the Day.

“You do yourself no favors in these moments, giving easy balls away. We were passive in the two goals, everything we wanted to do was be compact and active but we were compact and passive. I can’t explain it, I think why would you do that? But they did it anyway.

“The leadership [defensively] is missing but this is not my first explanation, I really think in the specific situation we could have and should have done better. We have to do better in these moments by not coming to this situation in the game so not chasing the game. We didn’t finish things off properly, we missed the last pass, the intensity we played at times was good but we have put ourselves in a really average position for the two goals.

“We better change it. That’s true, 100%. I have no words for it really, I’m sorry.”


What’s next?

Wolves will feel they can enter a purple patch with a trip to Southampton and a visit from Bournemouth on the next two Saturdays.

Liverpool has to snap to life quick: There’s a Merseyside derby at home to Everton, then Newcastle away followed by the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 vs Real Madrid.


How to watch Wolves vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Online: Premier League on Peacock


Liverpool own goal video: Wolves 1-0 Liverpool

Craig Dawson goal video: Debutant makes it 2-0 to Wolves with rare goal

Ruben Neves goal video: Adama Traore turns on style as Liverpool goes to sleep


Key storylines & star players

Winning games is about scoring goals and only two Wolves players have more than one. Daniel Podence has collected five, while Ruben Neves has four. Even more surprising, Wolves are still waiting on a goal from Raul Jimenez, Diego Costa, or injured Pedro Neto. Perhaps Matheus Cunha or Pablo Sarabia will chip in soon.

Liverpool has one win from its last three Premier League outings, but there’s a heaping helping of bad luck to their struggles. The Reds have 24 goals from open play and 20 allowed in that same situation. Their expected goals in those spots is 34.6 – 24. Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez have been especially unlucky despite combining for 12 goals and six assists on the season.


Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Pedro Neto (ankle), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Boubacar Traore (undisclosed), Chiquinho (knee)

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Virgil van Dijk (thigh), Roberto Firmino (calf), Ibrahima Konate (hamstring), Luis Diaz (knee), Diogo Jota (thigh), Arthur Melo (thigh)

Tottenham vs Manchester City: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City can gut the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal to just two points with a win over Tottenham in north London on Sunday (watch live, 11:30 am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager. Now level on games played for just over 24 hours, Manchester City (45 points) are once again within striking distance, but Tottenham (36 points – 5th place) have given them fits in recent seasons, when few others could.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Tottenham vs Manchester City

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Richarlison (adductor)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Phil Foden (foot)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Kaoru Mitoma delivers (again) as Brighton breaks Bournemouth

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Kaoru Mitoma’s superstar turn has Brighton looking to the sky as the limit following a 1-0 win over stubborn Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Brighton held more than 70 percent possession and rifled off 20 shots but only one, Mitoma’s 87th-minute header of a Jeremy Sarmiento cross, beat Cherries’ goalkeeper Norberto Neto.

WATCH BRIGHTON vs BOURNEMOUTH FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Mitoma has four goal and an assist in six appearances all competitions since Dec. 31 and four of those games are Brighton wins. The Seagulls are back into sixth place, two points off fifth-place Spurs with a match-in-hand, and give points behind Newcastle before the Magpies meet West Ham.

Bournemouth sits 19th, a point off safety and two points above 20th-place Saints.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Bournemouth shows hope but Brighton keeps class

Kaoru Mitoma certainly looks to be comfortable in the Premier League, and who needs a 20-yard banger or intra-box juggle-and fire every week? This time Mitoma turned up with a late header for his show-stopper.

It was fitting for Brighton in this match with two goalkeepers who looked locked-in for zeroes, as the Seagulls are very much a team that’s kept mojo from Graham Potter to Roberto De Zerbi and is finding new wrinkles under the latter.

But Bournemouth can and should feel renewed optimism after new owner Bill Foley sanctioned moves for some badly needed flair players.

One of those, Dango Ouattara, looks downright dangerous, while Ivorian attacker Hamed Traore and Ghanaian striker Antoine Semenyo are proper alternatives to Kieffer Moore and injured Dominic Solanke.

When the Cherries get Marcus Tavernier back, the puzzle will be much closer to their best. How many pieces remain missing is what will dictate whether Bournemouth keeps its puncher’s chance to stay up.


Stars of the Show

Kaoru Mitoma

Joel Veltman

Norberto Neto

Robert Sanchez

Jordan Zemura


What’s next?

Brighton goes to Palace at 10am ET Saturday before Fulham pays a visit to the Amex one week later.

Bournemouth hosts old friends Eddie Howe, Callum Wilson, and Newcastle United at 12:30pm ET Saturday before going to Wolves a week later.


Kaoru Mitoma goal video: Brighton breaks through


How to watch Brighton vs Bournemouth live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Alexis Mac Allister (suspension), Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (undisclosed), Levi Colwill (undisclosed), Evan Ferguson (ankle)

Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (thigh), Lewis Cook (knee), Neto (thigh), Dominic Solanke (knee), Marcus Tavernier (thigh), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed), Junior Stanislas (undisclosed)

Follow @AndyEdMLS