As part of our 2012 season preview (which will be rudely interrupted by some game at the skydome for the next few days,but resume later in the week before first kick on Saturday) I emailed my fellow writers here in the other wings of the sprawling WTR complex with 20 fairly random questions, asking for predictions on different TFC and MLS related matters. All their answers, along with my own, follow. Put your own answers in the comments section, and feel free to ask other questions, serious or bizarre, down there as well and if not all of us, I promise at the very least I'll answer them. Without further ado, here we go.
1: Where will Toronto FC finish this year, in MLS?
Keaton: 5th in the East. Toronto will have some hiccups and just make it into the playoffs for the first time. (How many times has that been said every year?)
Dave: 5th in the East with a first round playoff exit. The team is improved and should finish above the Revs and the Impact with ease but after that things get tight in the middle of the Eastern Conference. A few good results though and they will end up sneaking ahead of a few decent teams.
John: Call me a sentimentalist, but I think this is the year the push for the playoffs gets serious. While there are some roadblocks, I have confidence (a confidence that I've never really felt before...oh wait, that's the sinus infection talking) TFC can crack the top 5 of the Eastern Conference...and with none of the crossover BS, it just makes it even better. We qualify for the playoffs, and probably make it to the 2nd round before exiting.
Duncan: 3rd. It'll be tight, we won't qualify until the penultimate game, and only 4 points will separate 3rd from 7th, but TFC finally reaches the playoffs.
2: How about the 2011/12 CCL?
Keaton: Losses to Galaxy in Quarters in current CCL campaign. It pains me to say so, but Buddle plus everyone who helped them win the MLS Cup is way too much for TFC at the start of the season.
Dave: Sadly, the end is nigh in the CCL I think. The Galaxy are just going to be a bit too much over two legs. I do expect TFC to win the home leg though.
John: We've proven to be a match for LA before, I can't foresee why we can't beat the Galaxy. We should (keyword: should) be able to win the home leg at the Skydome...the away leg is a little hazier, but as long as TFC can leave Toronto with a lead without conceding away goals, they're golden. I'd say we should prep ourselves for a date with Santos Laguna.
Duncan: A home win will be followed by late heartbreak in L.A as TFC go out at the quarter final stage.
3: The Voyageurs Cup?
Keaton: TFC wins V Cup against Whitecaps in Final
Dave: Winners! This is a contest that will be a bit tricky this year as the team will be hard pressed to get past Montreal with much less than the A team. I think they will sneak by and then stick it too Vancouver in the final, rain or shine!
John: Say what you want, say what you will -- TFC will four-peat as Canadian champions.
Duncan: Losing finalists, I think this will finally be Vancouver's year
4: And how about the 2012/2013 CCL?
Keaton: TFC makes Quarter Finals of 2012 2013 CCL
Dave: Runners up in their group but paying the price for the new format where only the group winners get to move on.
John: In the groups of three, unless TFC draws an MLS side or the weaker of the Mexican teams in Pot A, I'd say the chances of going back to the Championship stage are remote.
Duncan: Chuckling quietly as the Whitecaps flame out and finish 3rd in their group.
5: Who's going to win the supporters shield?
Keaton: LA Galaxy win supporters shield and MLS Cup
Dave: Houston Dynamo. As the strongest side in the East I think they are primed to cash in on the unbalanced schedule to beat out any of the top sides from the West.
John: Seattle. Love them or hate them, they are on the right track.
Duncan: I hate myself right now, but LA Galaxy, made slightly palatable only by the presence of Chad Barrett
6: Who's going to win the MLS Cup
Keaton: LA Galaxy win supporters shield and MLS Cup
Dave: Seattle Sounders. A bit of a long shot given their very rough history in MLS playoff games but I think this will be the year that they get it right and take advantage of their home crowd.
John: Real Salt Lake. There ya go, your predo from left field. But seriously, RSL is another team that's been on the right track. Sooner or later, they're due for another title. Sorry Seattle, but it's STILL not your time.
Duncan: It'll go to a side that just squeezes into the playoffs, I'll say FC Dallas. With David ferreira back and without CCL distractions, they'll end the season well and go on a run through the playoffs.
7: Who's going to be TFC's top scorer?
Dave: Danny Koevermans. Last season was not a fluke at all and we could see the Dutch striker net 15+ goals on route to bagging the MLS scoring title!
John: This will be the year Danny Koevermans shows us what he's really capable of.
Duncan: Bit of an obvious question really this one wasn't it? Oh well. He won't pick up any major injuries which is the only thing that might stop him. Danny Koevermans.
8: Who's going to be MLS top scorer?
Keaton: Henry wins Golden Boot
Dave: Koevermans, see above.
John: Call me crazy, but I'd put my money on Danny Koevermans for this one too.
Duncan: Edson Buddle will pick up where he left off for the Galaxy.
9: Joao Plata will score how many goals?
Keaton: Plata gets 10 in all competitions
Dave: 6, I expect him to get a solid tally for a guy who will serve as a secondary scoring threat. If he can combine that with a handful of assists that would be a very good season.
Duncan: 5. He'll have a bit of a challenging year this year as defences focus on him more. It'll be good for him in the long run, and he'll be a better player, but with fewer spectacular moments and fewer goals.
10: Who's the first player TFC will waive?
Keaton: Ty Harden
Dave: Dicoy Williams. The team has a whole lot of central defenders and I think he would have been waived already but that is not allowed when a player is hurt.
John: Reggie Lambe. That man dunna give me no confidence, no sir.
Duncan: Geovanny Caicedo. I think he'll have trouble settling in and gaining fitness and just never get it going for us before eventually being dumped.
11: TFC's first away win will come when?
Keaton: Montreal on April 7th
Dave: Montreal! I think winning is Seattle will be a bit much with the CCL distraction but that game in Montreal will be a very sweet first road win of the season for the traveling fans record against IMFC.
John: Seattle. Good to set the bar high, no?
Duncan: In MLS? DC, May 19th, though we'll beat Montreal in both legs of the Voyageurs Cup, so in all competitions, May 2nd
12: TFC plays Montreal 5 times, our record will be?
Keaton: 3 wins, 1 tie, 1 loss
Dave: 3-1-1. Think the one defeat will come in the V's Cup with a slightly weakened side and the draw will come in the second league meeting. TFC will win a big game early in the season and another one right near the end to finish on a high note.
John: Two wins at BMO, one at Olympic Stadium, and then a draw somewhere and a loss.
Duncan: 3-0-2. We'll beat them twice in the Voyageurs Cup, lose both league games in Montreal before beating them on October 20th to clinch a playoff spot.
13: Most surprisingly good and surprisingly bad player?
Keaton: Lee Nguyen(
Whitecaps Revolution) most surprising good, Milovan Mirosevic- Crew, most sucky balls.
Dave: Good Surprise: Luis Silva. I think he will emerge to be the MLS rookie of the year and a key player for Toronto FC. Watch your back Avila! Bad Surprise: Dwayne De Rosario. It is bad because he will surprise us all by having another MVP calibre season.
John: Most surprisingly good player? Luis Silva. If the Mickey Mouse cup is any indication of future success (which I pray it is...it is, is it? Please?) Most surprisingly disappointing player? Reggie Lambe. See question 10.
Duncan: Surprisingly good - Chad Barrett. He won't be the best player in the league or even for the Galaxy, but he'll surprise people by playing his way into a starting spot, scoring some goals and being a key player for L.A. Surprisingly bad - Thierry Henry. His petulant streak started to show last year, and I think the Red Bulls will be very chaotic this year and that'll send him into a Rafa Marquez style funk. He'll stink on the pitch and cause problems behind the scenes.
14: What's most important for TFC to focus on, league or cups, in your opinion?
Keaton: I think both are equally important, but I see TFC focusing on League after making CCL 1/4's.
Dave: Has to be the league this season. Winning cups is certainly nice but this has to be the year the team makes the playoffs and finally earns some respect around the league.
John: With the CCL screwed up under the new group stage formula, I'm sure it's a sign for us to focus on the league.
Duncan: 100% the league. I want us to do well in the CCL this year as it's early in the year, but I think the extra games at the end of the year would be a killer, even with the reduced schedule, so I won't mind if we don't win the Voyageurs Cup. We have to make the playoffs at least this year, that's got to be the first priority.
15:How many points will TFC finish the season with?
Keaton: 47 points
Dave: A solid 47 which is a much needed 14 point increase on last season.
John: 46, which would be a record high...and probably enough to qualify for the playoffs!
16: Who'll start the season as number one goalie?
Dave: Frei will be number one all season but we will see a fair bit more of Kocic this season than we did before Frei's injury last year.
John: Stefan Frei, by a hair.
Duncan: After preseason, I'm solidly behind Frei.
17: Who'll end it there?
Dave: Frei, see above.
John: Milos Kocic
Duncan: Frei won't do anything to lose his place.
18: Bob de Klerk will get how many red cards?
Keaton: 0 red cards for Bobby de.
Dave: He will get no red cards but his face will turn red about 500 times over the course of the season as it is apt to do when he is shouting.
John: Probably a few blown tops, but I'm going to say two
Duncan: Without much Concacaf refereeing this year, I'll say just 1, and I'll predict Terry Vaughan as the ref that tips him over the edge.
19: Where will Vancouver and Montreal finish the season in the standings?
Keaton: Vancouver 4th in the west, Montreal 9th in East
Dave: Vancouver will finish in 4th in the West, while Montreal will finish second last in the East.
John: Montreal should get the Eastern wooden spoon, while Vancouver may get into the last Western Conference playoff slot, with a first round exit.
Duncan: Vancouver will be an entertaing team to watch, and would probably cruise to a playoff spot in the East, but they're in the west, so I'll say 6th. Montreal? Dead last in the entire league.
20: Dwayne de Rosario will still be with DC at the end of the season, yes or no?
Keaton: Dero stays in DC, leads them back to playoffs.
Dave: He will last the year with DC but there will be at least one story this season that puts strain on the relationship.
John: Probably end up waived, resulting in his retirement (since his chequered past with TFC, Houston and now DC are stuff of legends) -- another sad chapter in the career of a Canadian star.
Duncan: Yes, and he'll have what looks like another good year personally, but will continue his personal streak of mssing the playoffs for another year, as D.C finish 7th in the East. On a side note, he'll break Dale Mitchell's record for Canada.