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Forecasting Major League Soccer seasons before the first ball has even been kicked is a fool’s errand. In a league with salary-cap-enforced parity and a steady churn of player turnover, clubs dramatically ebb and flow from year to year. See: D.C. United, which finished bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2013 and first a season ago.

But if the pundits are to believed, the Sounders are one of — if not the — leading contender to win the 2015 MLS Cup.

In Sports Illustrated’s roundtable preview, two of the four experts (Brian Straus and Liviu Bird) tabbed Seattle as their preseason favorite. On an Men in Blazers preseason podcast with Roger Bennett, Alexi Lalas also named the Sounders as his MLS Cup champion.

  • Among the other notable league previews, ESPNFC’s “MLS 20 Questions” preview is a slight to behold:

  • Over at Top Drawer Soccer, Will Parchman and Travis Clark dig deep to provide a one-stop-shop breakdown of each team’s chances this season. Their “Bold Prediction” for Seattle? “The Sounders will finally conquer their previously held playoff issues and win their first ever MLS Cup despite not winning the Supporters Shield or the U.S. Open Cup. Consider it a trophy reverse of 2015.”
  • Prost Amerika captures the optimistic spirit of March with its “3 Hopes and One Fear” series for each MLS team. For Seattle, the hopes are that the young guys step up, it’s role-player midfielders improve into something more and that the new CBA will free the Sounders up to splash some cash. The fear? That none of the three will come to fruition.
  • MLSSoccer.com’s 2015 Season Guide is the most comprehensive of the bunch, laying out the complete list of transactions in and out of each team, plus a season prospectus and a projected opening-day lineup. And though they’re a bit hit or miss, the site’s city guides are also a great resource for anybody currently researching away road trips.
  • And finally, per Bovada, the Sounders are second only to the defending champion L.A. Galaxy in odds to win the 2015 MLS Cup, a 5/1 shot to lift the trophy this December: