Can Atlanta repeat? Will Zlatan win MVP? We make our 2019 predictions!

The 2019 Main League Soccer season kicks off on Saturday, and you may catch all of the motion on ESPN — starting on Sunday with D.C. United internet hosting Atlanta United (6:00 p.m. ET) and LAFC vs. Sporting Kansas Metropolis (eight:30 p.m. ET) — ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ all season plus the most recent information and storylines right here on

Earlier than the primary ball is kicked, ESPN FC requested its contributors to make their predictions for the upcoming marketing campaign. U.S. author Jeff Carlisle, sideline reporter Sebastian Salazar, contributors Noah Davis, Jason Davis and Arch Bell, editor Austin Lindberg and social media professional Chris Wondoloski — no, not that Chris Wondolowski — look into their crystal ball to inform us what’s to come back in 2019.

Editor’s notice: Scroll left and proper within the desk beneath to see predictions from all seven of our individuals.

Japanese Convention champion

“Certain they’ve a brand new coach, however the 5 Stripes even have probably the most expertise within the league. That normally wins out in these conditions.” — Jeff Carlisle

“D.C. United appear to have the fewest big-ticket query marks heading into 2019. They’ve added a pair high-potential gamers from Argentina in Lucas Rodriguez (from Estudiantes) and Leonardo Jara (Boca Juniors) and I believe that is the yr Invoice Hamid proves as soon as and for all that he’s the very best goalie in Main League Soccer and the U.S. males’s goalie pool.” — Sebastian Salazar

Western Convention champion

Whereas Sporting Kansas Metropolis may not have probably the most expertise, they’re loads deep, even with the departure of defender Ike Opara. That may assist over an extended season.” — Jeff Carlisle

“MLS is a way more enjoyable place when The Zlatans are good.” — Noah Davis

Supporters’ Defend winner

“The Japanese Convention will not have as many straightforward marks this season given the advance of groups like Chicago, and Toronto figures to be higher as properly. That may give a Western Convention facet extra of an opportunity, and SKC’s consistency ought to assist on this regard.” — Jeff Carlisle

“Even a drop from final yr’s record-setting level haul is perhaps sufficient to earn the New York Purple Bulls one other Supporters’ Defend in 2019. With Atlanta’s teaching change and no clear dominant staff within the West, it is New York’s trophy to lose.” — Jason Davis

High scorer

“If Zlatan says that he’s going to interrupt data, then Zlatan should be believed.” — Arch Bell

“Sure, Miguel Almiron is gone. However Josef Martinez is such a brutal and environment friendly finisher, and Atlanta’s remaining (and newly arrived) expertise is so good, betting towards the 2018 Golden Boot winner could be a mistake.” — Jason Davis

Landon Donovan MVP

“Two in a row for reigning Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez — though Miguel Almiron was deserving in 2018.” — Noah Davis

“Zlatan Ibrahimovic was arguably the league’s greatest participant in 2018, on a nasty Galaxy staff after arriving two weeks after the season began. A extra steady facet and two additional weeks of Zlatan needs to be sufficient to provide the award to the Swede.” — Austin Lindberg

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Greatest new participant

“If it is not Pity Martinez, we’ll have to contemplate the Argentine’s first MLS season a flop. No one else getting into the league has something near his resume, and with a switch price of $17 million hooked up to his title, Pity must not solely be the very best participant in Atlanta, however the very best participant within the league. Gamers of his ilk (reigning South American Footballer of the Yr) normally have their groups competing for trophies on a continental stage, and we must always count on that from Martinez — particularly given all of the expertise that may encompass him in Atlanta.” — Sebastian Salazar

“With David Villa gone, the stress is on big-money signing Alexandru Mitrita to ship in New York Metropolis. The diminutive Romanian is already drawing comparability to Sebastian Giovinco and needs to be a bit hit within the Bronx.” — Jason Davis

Greatest shock

“Minnesota all the time had loads of firepower in assault, however the Loons added a million-dollar center-back in Ike Opara, a DP No. eight who’s not afraid of a deal with in Jan Gregus, and spent TAM on destroyer Ozzie Alonso, full-back Romain Metanire and goalkeeper Vito Mannone. The Wonderwall ought to start preparations to host a playoff contest.” — Austin Lindberg

“A mix of enhancing expertise coming from the academies (and coaches’ consolation with that expertise) and a want to supply enticing promoting targets for golf equipment oversees will result in extra youngsters getting vital minutes than ever earlier than.” — Noah Davis

Crew set for a drop in 2019

“Domenec Torrent did not appear to have a lot of a plan when he took over from Patrick Vieira midseason. After an odd offseason that included paying $9 million for an unproven attacker, it might be one other lengthy yr within the Bronx.” — Noah Davis

“A good variety of acquainted names have departed Dallas up to now 12 months, together with Mauro Diaz, Maxi Urruti and Victor Ulloa. The departure of supervisor Oscar Pareja will possible have an effect as properly. Not the best managerial baptism for Luchi Gonzalez.” — Jeff Carlisle

Crew set for a return to kind in 2019

“The Galaxy are by no means a membership to shrink back from drama, and drama figures to play a task in the place LA finishes in 2019, however Zlatan is again and prepared and Guillermo Barros Schelotto will regular a rolling ship.” — Jason Davis

“New head coach Matias Almeyda will make all of the distinction in San Jose. This isn’t to say that the Quakes will attain the postseason, however they are going to be within the hunt and will not repeat final yr’s last-place end.” — Arch Bell

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