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March 03, 2017

The ultimate list of Philadelphia Union and MLS 2017 predictions

Soccer Union
3317_union_PSP Daniel Gajdamowicz/Philly Soccer Page

Toronto FC is the consensus favorite to win the Eastern Conference in 2017.

If you're reading this article, then you've successfully made it through the MLS offseason.

There's a lot to look forward to in 2017, with two new teams entering the league, a number of intriguing foreign signings, and a Philadelphia Union club that has the potential to be pretty good, or pretty bad.

There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Union, which makes it impossible to predict how they'll do this year.

Can Chris Pontius replicate his 2016 season?

Is Haris Medunjanin the missing piece in the midfield?

Where will record signing Alejandro Bedoya even play?

How many goals can Jay Simpson score?

What about the health of Maurice Edu, Josh Yaro, and Oguchi Onyewu?

I have no clue what's going to happen, and that's what makes covering the Union and MLS interesting and entertaining. This isn't like the NBA, where we know the Cavs will probably meet the Warriors in the finals. This isn't like the NFL, where Tom Brady will probably find his way back to the Super Bowl. The captivating thing about MLS is the league-wide parity that makes anything possible.

Philadelphia Union

Overall record – 11 wins, 12 losses, 11 draws (44 points, seventh place in the east)

Home record – 7 wins, 4 losses, 6 draws (27 points)

Road record – 4 wins, 8 losses, 5 draws (17 points)

Goals scored – 49

Goals conceded – 50

Top goal scorer – Chris Pontius (10 goals)

Top assist provider – tie between Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya (7 assists)

All-Star selections – Andre Blake

Most improved player – Ilsinho

Union newcomer of the year – Haris Medunjanin

Number of starts for Maurice Edu – 6

Number of starts for Josh Yaro – 14

Number of starts for Oguchi Onyewu – 10

Number of starts for Ken Tribbett – 10

Player most likely to leave in the summer – Roland Alberg

Player who won't start the season opener, but will eventually force his way into the lineup – Fafa Picault

Jim Curtin's most difficult lineup choice – Ilsinho vs. Fabian Herbers at right midfield

Biggest concern for Union fans – health of Onyewu, Yaro, and Edu, plus the risk of Herbers and Keegan Rosenberry going through sophomore slumps

Goals for Jay Simpson – 9

Goals for C.J. Sapong – 5

Goals for Charlie Davies – 2

Most important game of the year – Sunday, June 18th vs. Red Bull at Talen Energy Stadium

U.S. Open Cup performance – eliminated in quarterfinals by Chicago Fire

Final Eastern Conference standings

1. Toronto
2. New York Red Bulls
3. New York City FC
4. Montreal Impact
5. Atlanta United
6. D.C. United
7. Philadelphia Union
8. Chicago Fire
9. New England Revolution
10. Orlando City
11. Columbus Crew

Final Western Conference standings

1. FC Dallas
2. Seattle Sounders
3. Colorado Rapids
4. Real Salt Lake
5. Sporting KC
6. LA Galaxy
7. Portland Timbers
8. Vancouver Whitecaps
9. San Jose Earthquakes
10. Minnesota United
11. Houston Dynamo

Major League Soccer

Most Valuable Player – Nicolas Lodeiro

Golden Boot – David Villa (22 goals)

Most assists – Nicolas Lodeiro (19)

Supporter's Shield – FC Dallas

MLS Cup – Dallas 2, Toronto 1

U.S. Open Cup – Seattle Sounders

Canadian Championship – Montreal Impact

CONCACAF Champion's League – Pachuca 3:2 Tigres (on aggregate)

Defender of the year – Matt Hedges

Newcomer of the year – Miguel Almiron

Player who will continue to perform at a high level with little media recognition– tie between Drew Moor and Sam Cronin

Breakout player of the year – Matteo Mancosu, Marlon Hairston

Comeback player of the year – Clint Dempsey

Coach of the year – Gerardo Martino

Best game of the year – New York City vs. New York Red Bulls, Sunday, August 6th

Worst game of the year – Houston vs. San Jose, Saturday, August 12th

Most yellow cards – Marcelo Sarvas

Most red cards – Kendall Waston

Most minutes played (not counting goalkeepers) – Richie Marquez

Most overrated soccer statistic – time of possession

Most underrated soccer statistic – final third entries

Most bothersome statistical topic – failure to differentiate between primary and secondary assists

Promising American player who should move to Europe, but won't – Darlington Nagbe

Biggest media shortcoming – not enough reporters will re-watch game film

Position that not enough people will pay attention to – defensive midfield

Biggest tactical shortcoming – not enough risk-taking with shape or system

Pointless coaching behavior that will continue – complaining to the fourth official

Biggest refereeing concern – games that fall apart in the final ten minutes because of a failure to establish first-half disciplinary precedent

Coach most likely to not make it through the year – Gregg Berhalter

English Premier League

Team that needs a coaching change, for the sake of everybody – Arsenal