It's time for Premier predictions. We're at this point positive no one is reading this part so even making a joke about how bad these are is useless.
Premier Division Overview:
In our highest division change comes slow. There are 4 immovable teams at the top of the league and the rest are seemingly in a never-ending battle for the left over scraps. I think we see the emergence of a new top team this year while most others should see the writing on the wall pretty quickly. This is the safest division to me to predict because the top teams are so clearly better than the rest and I don’t see that changing this year really.
Premier Burning Questions:
Is the fire in Amherst Sharpshooters fading?
Lets just say instead of a roaring blaze it’s at that stage where there are only like 3-4 guys left and you’re just sorta keeping it going. Amherst for years has been the regular season standard bearer for all of BDSL. They have a sound roster that has been committed to the cause and can beat you in a variety of different ways. There is no denying though that some of the core of the roster has been shaken up. Be it Trevor Lawler’s injury, GK Adam Durst retirement to lift weights, or Myles Taylor’s defection to Celtic United there is something up here. Couple those with word on them missing out on some transfer targets has some wondering if this is the beginning of the end for Sharpshooters. But I’m not buying that at all. They still are deep and extremely talented. I think they’ll maybe not be the week-to-week juggernaut they have been but still a Premier title contender. They have too much skill to be anything less. And as long as that remains they should continue to find quality talent that wants to rep the red and white.
Can Buffalo United put it all together for a trophy?
They are such a great team but for whatever reason the seem to struggle in big spots.. Look this is no knock against BUSS as they have cemented themselves amongst the league elite. The Saysays, Polo, Sabtow, Musse Sherman and Walsh are top end Premier talents. But this year’s additions are skewed with an eye toward the future and less towards win now. Its smart to preserve their spot but it doesn’t help all too much short term (nor does it hurt them either). Bottom line is they have faced BSC Raiders in the playoffs several times now in the playoffs and have yet to conquer that. Hard to see it changing this season with what they have constructed. They had them on the ropes last year but let them off. If they couldn’t do it then it’s difficult to see a better opportunity.
Can anyone dethrone BSC Raiders?
No. Look the Raiders are the gold standard for a reason. They are public enemy number 1 and most teams relish any opportunity to beat them. But they are a lock to make playoffs no matter what type of season they have and once the playoffs come they tend to kick it into a gear few can reach. How can anyone pick against them until proven otherwise? Without a roster shake up that has no signs of coming they will continue to be the team to beat to prove you are the best the BDSL has to offer.
What will Celtic do now with all its shiny new toys?
Win a title. I think there is no debate as to who won the BDSL offseason. Celtic United picked up several players who should make immediate impacts on a roster that so badly lacked depth and attendance. On top of that many of their current players are close to graduating from college themselves and that could mean more commitment from them as well. All in all if any team in Premier is poised for a breakout year its Celtics top team. If things come together they might be the biggest threat to BSC.
Can Clarence find their 2016 form?
Not at all. Clarence was the talk of Premier in 2016 with a fantastic season that had me excited for prospects in 2017. But the Yotes, even by their admission would say last year while the playoffs was nice they never quite found that extra gear they had in ’16. The core here is solid but question are popping up on central defense with the loss of Ryan Schroen. And who exactly is scoring goals on a week to week basis for this team? For me they lacked a bit of identity last year as well. Were they going to be a counter team that leaned on a strong defensive line up and quick wing play? Or did they want to try to out possess you with their good central midfield options? Maybe they find the right blend in 2018 that gets them back to a legit champion threat but something tells me that we’ll see more their ’17 form. With the other teams catching up playoffs aren’t quite a lock for them anymore.
What’s up East Aurora FC?
Your guess is as good as mine. It’s impossible to read this team. Last years’ results that ranged from wildly impressive to confusing prove this. Their lackadaisical attitude is a blessing and a curse because it can be attractive to those that share it but scare away ambitious minded guys. Ryan Keller is now the full time manager on top of building the roster so there is some pressure there too. While last year’s 6th place finish should be viewed as stepping stone to greater things to come, I view it more as a high watermark and if repeated would be impressive. That said the roster has been given a youth injection which should help. They have enough of a combination they shouldn’t worry for relegation but is it enough for a return playoff trip. I’m not so sure.
Will The Lackawanna merge work?
Not yet but it the right step. They past few years haven’t been easy for either Elite or FC Yemen in the Premier season. FC Yemen barely escaped the drop in 2016 while it was Elite that saved themselves by 1 point in week 11 last year. So merging the two clubs I believe is a step toward a more stable BDSL Premier life. They top end talent of Elite with the young stars of FC Yemen should equal that. Their will most certainly be growing pains in this but with this step (and the return to the Cage) I expect better times ahead for Lackawanna FCY
Will Queenston avoid 8th place?
Yes but thats not exactly great news. Typical Queenston. Just a glance at their 2016 & 2017 campaign numbers tell you all you need to know about this team. Consistently mediocre, which as the word implies is both good and bad for their current and future prospects. With a suspected spin off team coming next year, it will be interesting to see what happens to them come next year. As for this years team, I’m not sure where they improved. They missed out on a couple guys but did have their always sneaky one or two good pick ups. But I think its just going to be more of the same from them. With the rest of the division improving some I think they could fall further then 8th.
Will this be the year SoHo FC falls off?
Sort of. This has been a question floating around them for a few years now but its always been tied to how their season plays out. This year I don’t think the results of this season matter one way or the other. I have a hunch that at the end of the year SoHo FC might have some changes that could take it in a new direction. Whether that means guys retiring and moving to management roles or another Celtic teams, them rebuilding completely, or moving to O-35 I really don’t know. I can say I hope I’m wrong because BDSL would miss SoHo FC. This years roster is….well its weird. It’s like if you drew the grab bag catergory in a board game. A mix of everything here this year. Its just sorta what they have become has time leans on this squad. But say what you want about how they make the playoffs because once they do they have the players that just know how to win. So if they grad a spot which I expect them to they are as dangerous as Raiders on their day.
What promoted side has the best chance to stay up?
Williamsville Willies. It’s certainly odd that that’s my answer considering this team gained their spot due to the Lackawanna merge. The main reason I believe this is that their roster is more evenly spread out then the other two promoted teams. The grind that is the Premier season will affect the whole of their roster less then it will the others. That’s a very important concept I think teams learn quick in coming into the top flight. So for me they are better suited to avoid the drop. In fact I think that it could be enough to earn them a playoff spot.
Relegation Zone: Southtowns FPFC, Wolfpack
Pretenders: Clarence, Lackawanna FCY, Queenston FC, Williamsville Willies, East Aurora FC
Contenders: Amherst Sharpshooters, Buffalo United SS, Celtic United, SoHo FC
Favorite: BSC Raiders
Premier Division Prediction:
Buffalo United SS
East Aurora FC
3) Amherst Sharpshooters over 6) Williamsville Willies
4) Celtic United over 5) SoHo FC
1) Buffalo United SS over 4) Celtic United
2) BSC Raiders over 3) Amherst Sharpshooters
2) BSC Raiders over 1) Buffalo United SS