SBI MLS Power Rankings

MLSHCS20101009205

Photo by ISIphotos.com

Major League Soccer's first kick of 2011 is just hours away, and there's no better time to reveal SBI's MLS Power Rankings heading into the new season.

Some of last year's disappointments have made quite the impression during the offseason, as D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo both crack the top 10 after revamping their rosters in an effort to return to the postseason.

Sitting atop the initial rankings is Real Salt Lake, a team favored by many to make a deep postseason run and perhaps secure its second MLS Cup in three years. There's a reason they play the games, though, and there are a number of very talented teams in the waiting, eager to capture the top spot MLS.

Here are the SBI Power Rankings (as voted by members of the SBI staff):

SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS

1. REAL SALT LAKE

RSL_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 15-4-11, second in West

This week: 3/19 at San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m.

Outlook: Perhaps the league's most deep and balanced team in the league, RSL is challenging for a championship on as many as three fronts this season.

2. LOS ANGELES GALAXY

LA_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 18-7-5, first in West

This week: 3/15, at Seattle Sounders, 9:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com

Outlook: With Juan Pablo Angel replacing Edson Buddle, David Beckham at full fitness and Landon Donovan rested and ready to go, the Galaxy's high-powered attack shouldn't miss a beat in 2011.

3. NEW YORK RED BULLS

NY_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 15-9-6, first in East

This week: 3/19 vs. Seattle Sounders, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: With a healthy Thierry Henry leading the way, more European influence in the midfield and Rafael Marquez and Tim Ream partnering in central defense, the Red Bulls are the favorites to capture the East again.

T-4. FC DALLAS

DAL_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 12-4-14, third in West, MLS Cup finalst

This week: 3/19 vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m.

Outlook: A number of young players will have to step up in the absence of Dax McCarty, Heath Pearce and Jeff Cunningham, but Schellas Hyndman has some intriguing replacements in Eric Alexander, Zach Loyd and Fabian Castillo, who will try and lead FCD back to MLS Cup.

T-4. SEATTLE SOUNDERS

SEA_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 14-10-6, fourth in West

This week: 3/15 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com

Outlook: Is this the year it all comes together for the Sounders? With an attacking nucleus of Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani and Blaise Nkufo and the return of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to centerback, it very well could be.

6. COLORADO RAPIDS

RapidsLogo

Last season's record: 12-8-10, fifth in West, MLS Cup champions

This week: 3/19 vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel

Outlook: The MLS Cup champions are not getting a whole lot of love entering their title defense, but Gary Smith's side boasts the same starting XI as the one that shocked the league in 2010.

7. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

SJ_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 13-10-7, sixth in West

This week: 3/19 vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.

Outlook: All eyes will be on Chris Wondolowski, to see if he can replicate his Golden Boot-winning feat from a year ago. Perhaps more significant to the Quakes this season, though, is the return of centerback Ike Opara from a broken foot.

T-8. HOUSTON DYNAMO

HOU_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 9-15-6, seventh in West

This week: 3/19, vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30 p.m.

Outlook: The Dynamo added a bunch of pieces in Will Bruin, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor and Hunter Freeman in the hopes of proving that 2010 was an anomaly. The bad news for the club: Brian Ching already has a hamstring injury.

T-8. D.C. UNITED

DCU_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 6-20-4, eighth in East

This week: 3/19, vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: No team did more to improve itself in the offseason than D.C., which acquired the likes of Dax McCarty, Charlie Davies and Perry Kitchen to give first-year coach Ben Olsen the tools necessary to get the team out of the league's cellar and back in the limelight.

10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY

SportingKClogo

Last season's record: 11-13-6, third in East

This week: 3/19 at Chivas USA, 10:30 p.m.

Outlook: Expectations are raised a bit in Kansas City, with the arrival of DP striker Omar Bravo, the emergence of forward Teal Bunbury and the opening of a brand new soccer-specific stadium, which will open this summer. How the team navigates its 10-game, season-opening road trip will go a long way in determining its fate in 2011.

11. PHILADELPHIA UNION

UNI_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 8-15-7, seventh in East

This week: 3/19 at Houston Dynamo, 8:30 p.m.

Outlook: With Faryd Mondragon anchoring things in goal and pieces like Carlos Ruiz, Brian Carroll and Chris Agorsor brought into the fold, the Union should improve on its expansion season and contend for a playoff berth.

12. COLUMBUS CREW

CLB_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 14-8-8, second in East

This week: 3/19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: Gone are Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk, Brian Carroll and Steven Lenhart, just to name a few. In order for the Crew to not fall off the map completely, Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven, Andres Mendoza and Jeff Cunningham will have to assume bigger roles.

13. CHIVAS USA

CHV_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 8-18-4, eighth in West

This week: 3/19 vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:30 p.m.

Outlook: Robin Fraser's influence on the team can already be felt, as the renovated back line includes Heath Pearce, Jimmy Conrad, Zarek Valentin and Seth Owusu. The lack of goal scorers up top, especially while Justin Braun regains fitness from a January Achilles' injury, is the real issue for the Goats.

14. PORTLAND TIMBERS

TimbersLogo

Last season's record: N/A

This week: 3/19 at Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel

Outlook: The Timbers should be one of the more entertaining teams in the league, with Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza and Darlington Nagbe leading the attack. Questions linger in defense, but the Timbers shouldn't be a pushover in their expansion year.

15. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION

NE_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 9-16-5, sixth in East

This week: 3/20 at Los Angeles Galaxy, 8 p.m., Telefutura

Outlook: The Revolution missed the playoffs for the first time in Steve Nicol's tenure as coach in 2010, and the club hopes that acquisitions like A.J. Soares, Ousmane Dabo and Didier Domi and a rejuvenated Shalrie Joseph can help right the ship in 2011. Rumors of a DP forward signing are flying around, but goals may be hard to come by in New England.

16. CHICAGO FIRE

CHI_primary_COL

Last season's record: 9-12-9, fourth in East

This week: 3/19 at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Outlook: A bunch of underachieving big names were replaced with a number of unknown commodities, making Chicago very much a work in progress. Is Carlos de los Cobos' shift to a 3-5-2 the answer? Midfielder Marco Pappa and rookie centerback Jalil Anibaba are two players Fire fans can get excited about.

17. TORONTO FC

TOR_Primary_COL

Last season's record: 9-13-8, fifth in East

This week: 3/19 at Vancouver Whitecaps, 6:30 p.m.

Outlook: Aron Winter's plan to bring Total Football north of the border might take some time to implement, especially with a young team still learning to play together. The Reds still boast one of the league's top overall talents in Dwayne De Rosario.

18. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

WhitecapsLogo

Last season's record: N/A

This week: 3/19 vs. Toronto FC, 6:30 p.m.

Outlook: The Whitecaps are built for the future, but with Jay DeMerit anchoring the back line in front of veteran goalkeeper Joe Cannon, the defense should be able to keep the expansion side in its games. Much depends on the ability of DP striker Eric Hassli to acclimate himself to MLS and produce immediately.

This entry was posted in SBI MLS Power Rankings. Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to SBI MLS Power Rankings

  1. Ivannomad says:

    Tied with the Sounders? Those Northwestern Hippies cant even score. FCDallas all the way….

  2. Ian says:

    at least we don’t score on ourselves…

  3. Hokie_Futbol says:

    I really thought the Revs would do more since they are obviously one of the more well-off franchises…FAIL

  4. kfly says:

    Ooooooo…well done, Ian.

  5. Anthony says:

    Things are going to be tough for NE as Domi, Dabo, and Alston are all hurt.

    Also, if anyone is interested in doing MLS’ fantasy challenge – join ‘Maryland FPL.’ Draft is tonight at 7:00pm et.

  6. Alex says:

    Revs:

    “Rumors of a DP forward signing are flying around…”

    Whose name(s), exactly, are flying around?

  7. Andrew says:

    DC seems a little high.

  8. Matt says:

    Crew are too low. Mendoza and RENTERIA will prove to be an excellent strike tandem. This team will not rely on Cunningham for goals; he won’t even be a regular starter.

  9. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    Toronto seems a little low. Not that I think theyll be contending for the shield or cup but 17th?

    I never put much weight into these things anyways.

  10. skmoritz@hotmail.com says:

    The fact that the Rapids have the same starting XI that won the cup is a negative? If it was RSL or some other fashionable team you would be praising their consistency.

  11. Brad says:

    I think Ives meant to say the Rapids “are not” getting love…..but are fielding the same winning line up. Or at least that is what i hope he means.

  12. Drew says:

    I’m assuming that is a typo and should read that they are NOT getting a whole lot of love. But who knowss

  13. go usa says:

    Hey Ives… My pet peeve about these pundit prediction articles is that one almost never sees the prediction vs. reality follow-up. For example, let’s compare the week 1 SBI power rankings last years vs. the end-of-season reality and have a short blurb on what went right or wrong with each prediction…

  14. Caviar says:

    Houston should be way lower…They added mediocre pieces. Sporting KC added the real pieces…

  15. Bryan says:

    Not looking good for the Fire going into the season. I think we got like 4 red cards during preason games. =/

    Oh well, let’s go Fire!

  16. roger says:

    I like that idea. I dont think I’ve seen such a thing. but i think bc the Power Rankings are a projection of how they are currently playing and not how they will finish league.

  17. Eric says:

    Hopefully someone Portuguese, Brazilian, or Irish. I mean they can at least try to get some interest in the club. Try a Nuno Gomes or something. Its getting kind of pathetic about how little effort the front office puts into promoting the team.

  18. jason says:

    done! thanks for the offer. most of my friends prefer throwball to proper football. i have some lame friends.

  19. Jeremy says:

    ZING!

  20. SeattleStan says:

    To be fair, George John was a UW alumnus.

  21. Then one and only ELAC says:

    Very generous of you, Ives. Gracias.

  22. James B says:

    Hey REVS, metro-Boston stadium 1st, DP 2nd.

  23. 20 says:

    Houston and DC should be lower, New England and the Crew should be higher

  24. Dave says:

    Of course we’re a little high. Painkillers are the only reasonable way to deal with the memory of last season. But ON TOPIC (ahem) I have to say, I don’t think the changes we made in the off season (while substantive improvements) will lift us to 8th. Surprise me, DC!

  25. Hokie_Futbol says:

    haha i grew up 1 mile from that stadium. i walked to WC 94 as a kid with my family. there is ZERO chance they move from that spot. it’s possible that they build a soccer specific stadium, but they will never move off the kraft campus. i couldn’t be happier. wish there was a GC game there this summer.

  26. Eric says:

    Im heading down to D.C. to catch a game. I went to the game during the last Gold Cup. Still remember Junior getting sent off and them still destroying El Salvador. Twellman scoring was priceless.

  27. Anthony says:

    Yeah Man!

  28. socnow says:

    I’m interested to see what DC can do this year. But yeah, they seem rated a little high by SBI staff. And SKC seems rated a little too low.

  29. socnow says:

    RSL and RBNY will have good years. So will Colorado and SKC.

    The Galaxy will be a disappointment… Donovan can’t carry the team by himself, Angel will show his age as the season drags on, and their celebrity DP would rather be elsewhere. Expect drama and possible meltdowns in Los Angeles if things don’t go well.

  30. Rob says:

    i’d put RSL behind the Galaxy, Red Bulls, and Rapids. this should be a two team title race between the Galaxy and Red Bulls. Not only do they have the best DP’s but they’re also solid (LA especially) everywhere else.

  31. Kejsare says:

    Seeing Portland’s name among all those other forerunners makes me glad. There have been many moments of not having our team.

    Thanks for letting us in! *sniff*

  32. Dan says:

    Great first premise, having the best DPs, especially when you consider how many DPs have won championships.

    Where exactly is RSL not solid?

  33. Eurosnob says:

    Yes, you may be right, but SBI explained why they are ranked so high. What other team added two USMNT players (Dax and Charlie) and arguably best defensive player in the draft (Kitchen)? Combine them with young exciting talents such as Najar and Hamid and the seasoned veterans they added this offseason, and SBI’s ranking does not seem to unreasonable. I probably would rank them slightly lower due to the uncertainty as to how all these new parts fit together.

  34. RSLnPortland says:

    +1
    @Rob: I loled

  35. CSD says:

    I think Vancouver is being way under rated coming into this season. I think they dominate TFC in their opening game and build from there. I would put them about 10th and wouldn’t be surprised to see them contending for a play off spot this season.

    I think LA is over rated going into the season. I rate them about 6th.

    Also think KC is being over looked I rate them up to about 5th.

  36. WeLoveBusch says:

    I got KC higher than Houston too. SBI got that one wrong.

  37. Paul says:

    Ashame that Chivas doesnt have any qualility forwards. With their strong backline they will be a tough team score on just question is will they score any of their own?

  38. James B says:

    There were again, “rumors”, that Kraft was talking with the Mayor of Somerville (very close to Boston) last year about a soccer specific stadium. I think there is a much better than zero chance, as the Krafts realize the fan base they are missing out on by trying to develop synergy with the Patriots. I would buy season tickets the day they inked a stadium deal either in or around Boston.

  39. Matt says:

    return zing! Tyr-own-goal Marshall would have something to say about this matter.

  40. Matt says:

    Trollin’ through your windows, snatchin’ your facts up!

  41. Brennan says:

    You’re one of those people who doesn’t actually watch MLS huh?

  42. Phil says:

    Based on these predictions I like Philly to nick DC and KC and finish in the top 8. Also think you’re being a bit too kind to Houston with a top 10 finish.

  43. Juan from L.A. says:

    I have said it before and will continue to say it…I do not like what Backe is doing with Redbulls. If you notice the starters even most of the team its made of foreigners. Even the Canadian teams have more Americans. I say this because this is an American league and he is doing the easy way out of what Arsene Wenger is doing with Arsenal. Props to FC Dallas in being the youth developers. RSL is just a damn good team with Kreis who might be a future USMNT coach. I wish for the best for my two teams being gaLAxy and Sounders, AND I’M OFF TO SEE THE GAME (DAMN RAIN MIGHT RUIN THE FUN A BIT THOUGH) TA-TAS HOMIES!

  44. Steve says:

    Red Bull Arena. Amazing stadium. Tough location. The only MLS house that serves Stiegl beer. On tap.

  45. jloome says:

    Must be a Vancouver fan, if you think that lineup is going to dominate anyone.

  46. Scott A says:

    I have to say, I love the location too. Closer to midtown Manhattan and the Bronx on a train than Queens, Ironbound right there, and the area within a few hundred yards will be built up more in the next decade.

  47. Smash Famous says:

    LA 6th?!? C’mon

  48. Joseph PDX says:

    Portland undefeated in pre-season…just saying hahaha.

    But really I think these are accurate, I want to see cascadia competitive though….

  49. go usa says:

    I’m not sure what “how they are currently playing” means? If a #2 drops a game to a #12, I never see these teams swap places in the next power ranking, so there is obviously a moving average.

    I believe that SBI power rankings are ultimately attempting to predict the final league finish. The ranking is just updated each week based on recent performances.

    If power rankings are indeed a prediction of “the coming week’s games”, then I would like to see %correct vs. %wrong score from the previous week higher seed vs. lower seed games.

    Anything to tell me how much better than pure chance these expert lists perform…

  50. Andy says:

    Aren’t RSL going for FOUR championships right now? CONCACAF CL, MLS League title (aka Supporters Shield), MLS Cup, and US Open Cup?

  51. SilverRey says:

    Folks, this isn’t meant to call out the MLS Cup 2011 winner. Power Rankings are all about the relative strength of the teams at this moment, with a slight nod as to what might happen in the next few games.

    This isn’t a crystal ball, this is SBI’s (expert) opinion on the status of each of the teams, all available for discussion and the addition of your opinions.

    btw, all the old posts are there. Let’s hear your opinion on what went wrong with SBI’s Power Rankings from last year…

  52. Dlite says:

    The only thing vancouver will dominate is the fouls column. That lineup won’t be able to compete against tfc without cheating…