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5 Bold Predictions For Seattle Sounders’ 2014 MLS Season

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5 Bold Predictions for the Seattle Sounders' 2014 MLS Season

5 Bold Predictions for the Seattle Sounders' 2014 MLS Season
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It will be a fresh start for some and possibly a final bow for others as Seattle Sounders FC prepare for the start of the 2014 MLS regular season. After weeks of speculation following the club’s exit from the postseason, it was announced that Sigi Schmid would retain the manager spot despite calls from numerous fans for a change at the top.

GM Adrian Hanauer did not agree with the fans and instead shipped vocal forward Eddie Johnson to D.C. United in exchange for allocation money. Hanauer also rewarded defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso with the third designated player spot, a contract that Alonso had more than earned with his play over his first five seasons in Seattle.

The Sounders completely overhauled the center of their defense when they acquired Chad Marshall from the Columbus Crew via trade, and Jalil Anibaba in a trade with the Chicago Fire for Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni. Seattle drafted two young center-backs from Reading United AC of the USL Premier Development League in Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford, who will be impact players in the future while learning under Djimi Traore in the present.

Michael Gspurning was another casualty of the offseason house cleaning from Hanauer; his high salary and shaky play towards the end of the season made him expendable. Seattle kept backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and added Stefan Frei from Toronto FC. They are expected to battle for the starting goalkeeper spot in preseason camp.

Seattle was forced to trade captain Mauro Rosales to Chivas USA when they rewarded Alonso with his DP contract. They were able to acquire young midfielder Tristen Bowen and the no. 2 spot in the MLS allocation order. The allocation order came calling when the Philadelphia Union used their top spot to acquire Maurice Edu from Stoke City. Hanauer did not wait long when Seattle selected former Chicago midfielder Marco Pappa after his contract was terminated by SC Heerenveen of the Netherlands.

The forward spot was also addressed when the club traded for Kenny Cooper from FC Dallas. His deal was processed a few days before the Eddie Johnson deal with Cooper becoming the favorite to start up front alongside Obafemi Martins.

Confidence is high among Sounders fans as we inch closer to the new season. As always, the expectations are high and this season will be very critical for Sigi Schmid, who will need to make an appearance in the MLS Cup Final if he wants to continue his reign in the Emerald City. Here are five bold predictions for the Seattle Sounders' 2014 MLS Season.

Matthew Evans is a soccer writer for RantSports.com, “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter, or add him to your network on Google

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5. Seattle Will Win Cascadia Cup

5. Seattle Will Win Cascadia Cup
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The Cascadia Cup is a very important trophy when it comes to soccer in the Pacific Northwest. It signifies that you are better head-to-head than the other clubs of the region. Unfortunately, the scheduling is less than balanced as the Portland Timbers will host four matches, Vancouver Whitecaps will host three and Seattle will only host two. Even though Seattle will play four of their Cascadia matches on the road, it will not stop them from winning the trophy for the first time since 2011.

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4. The Defense Will Be One of The Top 3 in MLS

4. The Defense Will Be One of The 3 Best in MLS
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Seattle's defense is younger and faster than the 2013 version, which gave up a franchise-worst 42 goals during the regular season. The starting back four looks like it will be DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Chad Marshall and Leonardo Gonzalez. The preseason has shown some quality play from reserve left-back Dylan Remick and center-back Damion Lowe, with veterans Zach Scott and Djimi Traore holding down the other spots.

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3. Seattle Will Win MLS Cup

3. Seattle Will Win MLS Cup
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The motivation for the club to reach further than they have ever reached before is there. Management, players and fans alike still have the bitter taste of being dumped out of the postseason by Portland. Seattle is arguably stronger than they were last year and should be able to stand up to teams who play a more physical game. Most of all, expect Sigi Schmid to manage like he has never managed before, knowing that anything less than an MLS Cup appearance will result in a new man leading the Rave Green in 2015.

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2. Osvaldo Alonso will win MLS MVP

2. Osvaldo Alonso will win MLS MVP
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The MVP award normally does not go to the best player in the league. Rather, it's usually awarded to the guy who scores the most goals. That will this season change as Osvaldo Alonso will win the award. Alonso is by far and away the most valuable player in Seattle; it is evident that the club's style changes when he is not in the lineup.

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1. Obafemi Martins and Kenny Cooper will combine for 30-plus goals

1. Obafemi Martins and Kenny Cooper will combine for 30-plus goals
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Call this "The Dempsey Effect." Clint Dempsey will open up more space for other attackers on the field with him, and the proof will be in the statistics for Obafemi Martins and Kenny Cooper. Ultimately, the best thing that could have happened would have been for Seattle to have Dempsey in the preseason with them in order to gel with Cooper and Martins, but it should not take long for these veterans to start clicking.