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Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Antigua Barracuda FC, Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions FC, Harrisburg City Islanders, Los Angeles Blues, Orlando City, Phoenix FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Recent, Richmond Kickers, Rochester Rhinos, Tampa Bay FC, USL PRO, Wilmington Hammerheads | 15 comments

Union Dues Staff USL PRO Preseason Predictions

Union Dues Staff USL PRO Preseason Predictions

 

It’s March, the time of year when fans of another sport that involves putting a round ball into a net fill out brackets with their predictions.  The staff of USL PRO contributors at the Union Dues aren’t afraid of prognostication, so here we present some predictions of our own.  Don’t worry.  We’re going to stick with the league we love, USL PRO.  After all, it’s March, and first kick is less than a week away.

The chart below shows how members of the Union Dues, those who cover USL PRO, predict that teams will finish at the end of the regular season.  Ray Stellhorn is the USL PRO Editor for the Union Dues, and his local club is Harrisburg City Islanders.  Chad Hollingsworth and Josh Brokaw are USL PRO contributors, and their local teams are Dayton Dutch Lions and Pittsburgh Riverhounds, respectively.  The average position for each team is also listed, providing a composite look at how our staff thinks the teams will finish.  The red line indicates the cutoff to qualify for the playoffs.

 

2013_Predictions

 

It probably comes as no surprise that Orlando, Charleston, and Rochester dominate our selections in the top three spots.  Orlando City is a fantastically run organization with talent to spare, and everyone knows it.  Only Chad was brave enough to select someone other than Orlando at the top spot, and he’s gambling that Luzunaris and Brettschneider are going to pay huge dividends for the Rhinos.  Ray was the only writer to put Rochester outside the top three.  While he’s confident that Rochester will have considerable success, he believes that they’ll drop some matches to clubs in the south that have gotten stronger.

Richmond and Wilmington actually finished in a tie for fourth place when all the predictions were averaged.  Ray has Wilmington ranked all the way up at third.  Chad and Josh both wonder about the ramifications of Corey Hertzog’s absence.  Conversely, Josh and Chad have Richmond placed relatively high, while Ray is cautious due to the loss of Ronnie Pascale.

Rounding out the playoff picks, based on the averages are Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Charlotte.  Chad feels that Pittsburgh’s roster is vastly improved through some key additions, but he doesn’t see them leaping five spots in the standings compared to 2012.  Josh picked Harrisburg in the 10th spot simply to raise the ire of his editor.  Charlotte is a bit of a wild card with 17 new players on the roster.

This leaves Los Angeles, Dayton, Tampa Bay, Phoenix and Antigua out of the playoffs.  None of us can really be certain what to expect from the expansion sides, but we all seem certain that they’ll be better than Antigua.  A last place finish by the Barracuda was the only unanimous pick by the staff.

So there you have it, our predictions for the 2013 USL PRO regular season.  Do you think we got it right, or do you think we were out celebrating a bit too hard on St. Paddy’s Day?  Either way, leave a comment and let us know.

15 Comments

  1. Charleston returns a lot of talent this year — very likely 10 or 11 quality players from their 2012 championship — and they’ve added four Internationals in Cuban defectors Odisnel Cooper, Evier Cordovez and Maikel Chang, plus Antiguan star Quinton Griffith. But it looks like they’re about to lose Ryan Richter to MLS, and I’m actually a bit concerned about the health of the squad here in late March. A lot of lingering injuries. No doubt they’ll contend for the title, but I’d feel more confident about their chances if there were more players in shorts and fewer in track pants right now.

    • Excellent points Dan. The defending champions are returning with another solid lineup, which is why no one at the Union Dues ranked them outside of the top three. I think there’s going to be a lot of separation between the top teams and the rest of the pack this year. Isn’t it a bit early for the injuries to be piling up?

  2. This guy ray has something against Rochester, either that or hasn’t read any of the recent transfers.

  3. Yes it is, Chad. I rounded up some of them yesterday here…

    http://www.chssoccer.net/cougars-beat-battery-nil-to-nil/

    Yesterday was the first day that it worried me, because it was the first day that I reported new injuries AND reported some recurring injuries. Most of the current Battery injuries have histories that go back at least three weeks to a month. All three of the Battery’s Cubans got hurt after just a couple of days in camp — probably because they hadn’t been in formal training for months — and returning right back Mark Wiltse got hurt that first week, too. Here it is mid- to late-March, and only one of those guys was able to play yesterday.

    Plus, and this is just me being a fan, nothing from the club — but Nicki Paterson’s hip/groin strain is worrisome. Non-surgical, which is good — it sounded like it was going to be an operation two weeks ago — but if you’ve ever had a bad groin, or just any kind of a core injury,, you know how they can linger and just generally mess with you. Paterson is an MLS-quality midfielder, and he’s a huge part of the Battery’s identity.

    • Wow, Dan. That is some disturbing news for Battery fans. Nicki Paterson’s injury is especially cause for concern. When I think of the Battery, I immediately think of Paterson and Cuevas. If there is such a thing as a household name when it comes to USL PRO, those are two such names.

      By the way, I’d like to congratulate you and the numerous other independent blogs that cover soccer in your region of the country. There’s a school of thought that says MLS should stay out of the southeast because that region won’t support professional soccer. You and your brethren are evidence to the contrary.

  4. Thanks. When the MLS is ready for us, we’ll be ready for MLS.

    As for Nicki — they’re treating him cautiously, and everyone down here is pulling for him. Great soccer player, but also someone you’d enjoy drinking a beer with.

    • To be fair, there aren’t too many people with whom I wouldn’t drink a beer. ;)

  5. I think Rochester have made some good signings, and have a much increased playing budget, but it’s difficult to see anyone other than Orlando City walking away with the regular season.

    All players offered a contract have returned alongside some strong acquisitions and a bunch of loan players from KC – Heath is calling this his strongest squad ever.

    • I’ve seen that quote from the coach, and he’s probably right. OCSC has a lot of talent and depth. I had Orlando in my top spot right up to the point that it came time to publish. Something in my gut is telling me that this might be Rochester’s year. Maybe it’s just the hot sauce from dinner last night.

      • So with four affiliations, we should be looking for 16 MLS players on loan this year via the MLS/USL deal this year, right? How many have been named so far?

  6. 4 more to Harrisburg and 4 to Rochester

    • I think we all are in wait and see mode when it comes to the two new expansion sides. Are you saying that they should be predicted to finish higher? Take off your supporter group hat for a moment, and give me the objective reasons. (I don’t mean that comment to be as snarky as is sounds.)

      I agree that Odeen Domingo has been doing a great job covering Phoenix. I follow his Twitter feed and read his content.

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