MLS Season Preview: The SBI Power Rankings

By IVES GALARCEP

The MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy were crowned less than three months ago, but plenty has changed across the league in the weeks since the 2012 MLS season ended.

Several top players have left some of the league’s top teams, while general managers across MLS were busy revamping rosters in hopes of either closing the gap on the champions, or with the goal of reaching the playoffs after missing out in 2012.

The Los Angeles Galaxy are back in 2013 without David Beckham, but with Robbie Keane still leading the attack. Landon Donovan’s delayed return won’t help the team’s start to the season, but the fact he is planning on coming back for the season is a major boost for the team’s hopes for a three-peat.

The Seattle Sounders sent Fredy Montero to Colombia on loan, but they still stand poised to be the Galaxy’s top challenge for top honors. The additions of Shalrie Joseph and Djimi Traore, coupled with the continued improvement of Steve Zakuani and emergence of Mario Martinez has the Sounders looking like serious title challenge.

In the East, Sporting KC lost two top players to the English Premier League in Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara (though Kamara is still technically on loan), but the team’s aggressive moves to add forward Claudio Bieler and midfielder Benny Feilhaber have them looking like a team that could very well be challenging for the Supporters Shield and a place in the MLS Cup Final.

The Houston Dynamo have beaten Sporting KC in the playoffs the past two years, doing so despite not having had the best regular seasons. This year, the Dynamo stand poised for a strong year thanks to having Oscar Boniek Garcia from the start of the season, and thanks to the additions of Omar Cummings and Andrew Driver.

While those four teams have the looks of being MLS Cup favorites, trying to size up the next dozen teams is a tough task. Parity is in full effective, particularly in the range of teams that are right on the doorstep of the playoffs. You can make strong arguments for why 16 or 17 teams could put things together this year and make the playoffs. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be much separating team nine from team 17 in the first MLS Power Rankings of the season.

As usually, we will see our share of surprise seasons, both of the positive variety and of the negative variety. Portland, Columbus and Colorado stand out as teams we could see making big jumps in 2013, while D.C. United and Vancouver could stumble.

Here is a closer look at how we see the 19 teams in MLS stacking up in the SBI MLS  Power Rankings:

SBI MLS Power Rankings

1. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (16-12-6, MLS Cup champion)

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Outlook: As much as you’d love to drop them down the rankings considering they lost David Beckham and didn’t add much on the international front, the Galaxy are still very much the team to beat.

Carlos Cudicini should be an upgrade from Josh Saunders, and the Galaxy defense will have Omar Gonzalez from day one, so don’t expect many goals allowed. Throw in the return of Leonardo and LA has depth to spare in the back.

Offensively, Beckham’s departure hurts, but rookie Gyasi Zardes is a difference maker who could offer the perfect strike partner to Keane. With Landon Donovan, Mike Magee and Juninho still providing goals and assists, LA has plenty of firepower to make a strong run at a third straight championship.

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2. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (15-8-11, lost in West Final)

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Outlook: The Sounders loaned out Fredy Montero, who it’s safe to say won’t be coming back to MLS, but Seattle should be even stronger than in 2012. Why? Mario Martinez has the makings of a breakout star while Steve Zakuani is closer to being back to his all-star form before the career-altering broken leg suffered in 2011.

The addition of Shalrie Joseph could be what puts Seattle over the top. Whether playing alongside Osvaldo Alonso in midfield, or anchoring the central defense, Joseph should be able to provide a boost to an already strong lineup. If Djimi Traore can be a quality centerback options, the Sounders will be right in the title mix (and if they succeed in landing a big-money goal-scoring forward, they could be considered the favorites).

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3. (2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (18-7-9, Lost in East Semifinals)

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Outlook: The fact Sporting KC is listed this high despite losing two standouts like Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara is a testament to the quality still on the roster. They still boast a very stingy defense, and still have an attack that features the likes of Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong.

Losing Kamara hurts the attack, but the team is banking on Claudio Bieler being the sorely-needed consistent goal scorer on the team. Throw in the return from knee surgery of Teal Bunbury and Peter Vermes won’t be starving for forward options. Benny Feilhaber’s arrival, and Oriol Rosell’s increased roll should help offset the departure of Espinoza. And a wild card? If Sporting KC does sell Kamara to Norwich City, they will have the resources to land another difference maker this summer.

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4. HOUSTON DYNAMO (14-9-11, Lost in MLS Cup Final)

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Outlook: The Dynamo were a very different team after moving into BBVA Compass Stadium last season, as well as being boosted by the mid-season arrival of Oscar Boniek Garcia. Now they will have both from the start of the season, which should help Houston climb within range of Sporting KC for the regular season top spot in the East.

Houston didn’t stand pat on a team that reached its second straight MLS Cup. The addition of Jamaican forward Omar Cummings is a significant acquisition, while Scottish winger Andrew Driver could provide some valuable depth in midfield.

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5. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (19-6-9, Lost in West semifinals)

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Outlook: Why are the reigning Supporters Shield winners only fifth? Losing Simon Dawkins will hurt, and it is difficult to envision the Earthquakes duplicating their 2012 success, particularly their penchant for late-game heroics. Chris Wondolowski should remain among the league’s top scorers, but it will be interesting to see how their defense shapes up. They have the pieces in place to boast a strong back-line, but only two playoff teams allowed more goals than the Earthquakes in 2012.

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6. NEW YORK RED BULLS (15-9-9, lost in East semifinals)

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Outlook: The Red Bulls dumped head coach Hans Backe, and traded away Kenny Cooper and Joel Lindpere, but they have added a plethora of veteran options. Fabian Espindola replaces Cooper while Juninho steps into midfield. Jamison Olave is expected to provide a major upgrade in central defense while having Tim Cahill from the start of the season should offer a significant boost as well. There are question marks in goal after Luis Robles put in a shaky pre-season (and Ryan Meara’s recovery from hip surgery remains incomplete) but overall the Red Bulls have the talent to be right in the mix among the top teams in the East. It will be up to rookie head coach Mike Petke to hit the ground running.

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7. CHICAGO FIRE (17-11-6, lost in East wild card)

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Outlook: The Fire made several smart moves in improving the roster of a wild card team that came so close to a top three playoff spot. Jeff Larentowicz and Joel Lindpere give the Fire some sorely-needed bite in midfield, while Dilly Duka could enjoy a breakout season after leaving Columbus.

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8. REAL SALT LAKE (17-11-6, lost in West semifinals)

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Outlook: The inevitable breakup of the RSL roster finally happened this off-season, with the departures of Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave and Will Johnson, but Jason Kreis has some ready-made replacements ready to step in in Luis Gil and Chris Schuler. Robbie Findley’s return gives RSL a major speed option up front, while the signing of young Colombian forward Olmes Garcia is a positive sign for the future. The additions of MLS veterans Khari Stephenson and Josh Saunders help give the team some depth, but overall you still get the sense that this RSL team will be just a notch below the league’s top title contenders. That can change if Schuler and Gil emerge as upgrades rather than just replacements.

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9. D.C. UNITED (17-10-7, lost in East Finals)

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Outlook: D.C. United didn’t have the flashiest off-season, but with a strong nucleus of young talent and the presence of 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne DeRosario, D.C. didn’t have a ton of glaring needs. One of the team’s key needs is a top-level striker, something the team failed to add in the off-season (though Carlos Ruiz should help provide some goals). They still boast Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon in attack, but the offense could once again rely too heavily on DeRosario. Defensively D.C. United lost Andy Najar, but softened that blow with the acquisition of veteran right back James Riley. John Thorrington should help provide some veteran leadership, but overall you just don’t get the sense D.C. United did enough to make the jump in the standings. If anything, they could be vulnerable to missing the playoffs.

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10. PORTLAND TIMBERS (8-16-10, eighth in West)

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Outlook: The Caleb Porter era has begun and the team enjoyed one of the best off-seasons in the league. They unloaded Kris Boyd and added a wealth of promising upgrades. Will Johnson and Diego Valeri are major improvements in midfield while Ryan Johnson could thrive in the Timbers attack. The defense remains a question mark, but the additions if Michael Harrington, Mikael Silvestre and Ryan Miller should help make the back-line stronger. If Donovan Ricketts can regain his Goalkeeper of the Year form, the Timbers will be a playoff team.

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11. COLUMBUS CREW (15-12-7, 6th in East)

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Outlook: If D.C. United slips up, the Columbus Crew look like the East team most likely to take advantage. They are strong enough to be a playoff team when you consider they will have Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta from the start of the season, but throw in off-season acquisitions Glauber, Matias Sanchez and Dom Oduro and Columbus could wind up being the surprise team of 2013.

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12. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (11-13-10, lost in West wild card)


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Outlook: The Whitecaps finished the 2012 season poorly after a very promising first half, and this off-season felt very much like another makeover. Barry Robson was let go, and the team lost Dane Richards as well. Martin Rennie didn’t stand pat though. He added two promising attacking players in the draft in Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado, while also boosting defensive depth with the additions of Johnny Leveron and Brad Rusin. Nigel Reo-Coker and Daigo Kobayashi should provide upgrades in midfield, but the Whitecaps could wind up relying heavily on young Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks to carry the scoring load.

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13. COLORADO RAPIDS (11-19-4, seventh in West)


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Outlook: The Rapids broke up the long-serving trio of Omar Cummings, Conor Casey and Jeff Larentowicz, dealing all three members of the 2010 MLS Cup-winning team to Eastern Conference sides. In step Edson Buddle, Diego Calderon and Kevin Harbottle, a trip of newcomers expected to play key roles in 2013. Where the Rapids are very intriguing is in the influx of young talent onto the roster, with draft picks Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers and Homegrown signing Dillon Serna all keys to the team’s long-term success. If the Timbers aren’t the surprise team in the West, Colorado certainly could be, though they still might be a year away from making a big jump.

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14. FC DALLAS (9-13-12, sixth in West)


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Outlook: Selling Brek Shea to Stoke City meant a big loss, but the money gained helped the team acquire the forward tandem of Kenny Cooper and Eric Hassli. Having David Ferreira from the start of the season is a major bonus, while Fabian Castillo could be poised to finally have the breakout season expected of him when he was signed as a young Designated Player. There are question marks in central midfield, as well as in goal, where newcomer Raul Fernandez must fill the big shoes of Kevin Hartman.

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15. MONTREAL IMPACT (12-16-6, seventh in East)

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Outlook: New head coach Marco Schallibaum didn’t make wholesale changes to the roster, but the addition of Andrea Pisanu should boost the offense. Having Marco DiVaio and Alessandro Nesta from the start of the season should help the team improve, but there is still a sense that there will be some growing pains in year two.

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16.  PHILADELPHIA UNION (10-18-6, eighth in East)

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Outlook: With a full off-season to shape the roster, head coach John Hackworth enters his first full campaign in charge still cleaning up the team’s salary cap mess. The additions of veterans Sebastien LeToux, Jeff Parke and Conor Casey should help, but losing defensive leader Carlos Valdes still hurts. Having a chunk of their salary cap tied up by Freddy Adu (who the team don’t want back) hurts, and as much promising young talent as is on the roster, you get the sense this will be a rebuilding year for the Union.

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17. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (9-17-8, ninth in East)

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Outlook: The Revs were very aggressive in the off-season in revamping the roster, and it does look like the team addressed some key areas of need. A potential forward tandem of Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson could be very good (once Sene is fully recovered from knee surgery) while New England’s midfield has depth and intriguing attacking options with Juan Toja, Andy Dorman, Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe.

The defense should improve with the additions of No. 1 pick Andrew Farrell and Portuguese centerback Jose Goncalves, as well as the addition of defensive midfielder Kalifa Cisse. That is a lot of new pieces to fit together, but if Jay Heaps can find the right mix, the Revs could jump up several spots on this list.

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18. CHIVAS USA (7-18-9, last in West)

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Outlook: It is tough to project just what the Goats will be like in 2013 because the team has undergone such a thorough transformation. Head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola is a character, but a coach who loves attacking soccer and is determined to make his mark on the team. Based on additions like Giovanni Casillas, the Goats should be a stronger attacking side in 2013, but it remains to be seen whether the defense will show much improvement. Without a stronger defense, the Goats are doomed to another forgettable season, even with star goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in net. That being said, Chivas USA should be more fun to watch in 2013.

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19. (19) TORONTO FC (5-21-8, last in East)

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Outlook: The Ryan Nelsen era is underway in Toronto and he has some serious work to do to rebuild a roster that was one of the worst in recent memory. A strong draft yielded top prospects in Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman, but it is still too early to tell just what other important additions are on their way. With Torsten Frings expected to join Eric Hassli on the way out the door, there should be money available for major upgrades. If anything, the defense should be better with a healthy Stefan Frei in goal and Danny Califf and Gale Agbossoumonde joining the back-line. Even with that, TFC still has way too much to do to climb out of the MLS basement.

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87 Responses to MLS Season Preview: The SBI Power Rankings

  1. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    no respect as usual. They added several young strikers and one veteran in Carlos Ruiz. They shored up the midfield and full back positions nicely. One of those kids is going to hit. It’s a bit early to put Chicago and NY ahead of DC in the predictions methinks.

    • ed - houston says:

      You are right, DC should be higher, while porland, at 10, should be lower.

    • Knuckles says:

      Hey, man, I love DCU (I’m a fan, so long as they’re not playing the Sounders), but they didn’t do a lot to improve. James Riley is a defensive liability, and there’s no telling what Carlos Ruiz will bring from game to game. And so long as United is starting Piajoy, scoring goals is an accident, not a given. I would actually put spots 6-9 as Chicago, RSL, DCU and RBNY, but that’s really my only criticism. Well, that and I think the Sounders are probably ranked too high.

      • T-lover says:

        ALL you guys are NYRB haters, NYRB should be at number four. Ahead of Houston, who has made no good moves this off-season.

        • Kris says:

          Bahaha Yeah, because NY’s knack for flashy signings has served them so well in the past.

          In Dom We Trust.

        • Knuckles says:

          Hate? That would imply I’m actually concerned about them one way or the other. It’s a poorly run, haphazardly constructed team. I wasn’t impressed with them last year and I’m less impressed this year. They may prove me wrong, but I seriously doubt it.

        • Hogatroge says:

          I agree that Houston’s too high, but your rationale is faulty.

          1.) NYRB has exploded their team, and while their signings have been quality, they’re gonna take time to gel, especially with a new coach.

          2.) Houston’s made excellent offseason moves. They lost no crucial players, locked up several core players, added a proven commodity in Cummings, brought in Andy Driver from Hearts, and have a healthy, fit Giles Barnes who joined late last season and didn’t have long to contribute.

          • Kris says:

            I don’t think much of an argument can be made against Houston at the 4 spot. They’re probably the most consistent lock on the 4 spot anyways. Two cup finals in a row, two years in a row of knocking off the #1 seed in the East come playoff time, but usually overlooked because of a shaky regular season. Seems like a safe ranking to me.

          • super star says:

            You say Houston is too high (ranked) and then go on to point out all of the good moves and good potential of Houston? I am confused, head hurts and need t take the rest of the day off.

    • DC Josh says:

      Unfortunately, all of our attack is on the shoulders of Pontius, DeLeon, DeRo, and Pajoy. Between the four of them, you can expect 30 goals hopefully. The problem is where does the rest of the attack come from? Rafael will take time to adjust to MLS, but he could earn his DP money and earn a starting spot and score goals. And Ruiz is a bit player, far past his prime. He will be a workhorse off the bench who ignites some energy into the squad.

      Plus, we no longer have Najar bombing down the wing; losing him is huge. I feel like we did not get any better or worst, at least on paper.

    • Josh D says:

      As a DC fan, I disagree. We are where we belong. We don’t have a capable 90 minute striker. Ruiz will be nice to have in the 70th minute, but he does not have the physique to last. Pajoy is useless outside of running about. And Rafael is a promising striker, I suppose, but he hasn’t done anything of note yet and we all know how long it takes young strikers to get used to MLS.

      DeRo is another year old so he’ll be slower and more injury prone. And without Najar, we lose a big attacking threat. Replacing him with journeymen sidebacks is not the fix.

      And that has been my only problem with Olsen: He favors hard workers who put in a shift over players who offer creativity or technique, but aren’t hard workers.

      I’m excited to see if DeLeon can build from his next season and if Pontius can overcome his injury early in the season. We are a threat, but I think everyone except Toronto had a better offseason talent-wise.

  2. el paso tx says:

    they will three-peat :) sad but true- red bulls will breakdown, seattle with sigi can never get it right, timbers might be a surprise and Houston knows how to do it. Donovan will retire or head to Europe or even Australia as a champ this season.

  3. Brian says:

    Reading each team’s description, it sounds like there are plenty of quality squads. Love the parity in this league….especially at this point in the season when we’re all on the same points as TFC.

  4. Shane says:

    Cannot wait for the season to begin. We’ll be raising the celebratory TimBEERS in Porterland.

  5. Todd says:

    I agree, I think DC United is the darkhorse to win the title. They have quality starters, and the depth for the long season. Plus they do not have to worry about CCL (CONCACAF Champions League) taking its toll. United will win its 5 cup when its all said and done.

  6. Creige says:

    Overall agree with these rankings except I would put the Whitecaps further up. They got rid of the cancer that was Barry Robson, Mattocks is healthy, and they have a strong(er) backline. I would also bump up Chivas USA ahead of New England and Philly.

    • Shane says:

      Cant agree, Rennie replaced the cancer that was Robson with the cancer that will be Nigel Reo-Coker. Rennie continues to think he can build a good team by bringing in washed up has beens or never really were players. When he took over the Whitecaps he had a solid core of midfielders which he ignored.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Could definitely see Whitecaps higher up. It’s just so tough when you look at teams 9 through 17 it really is a crap shoot. Most of those teams did well to upgrade and address needs. Ultimately I’m most impressed with Portland so I gave them the biggest boost, but I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if a team like Vancouver or Dallas or Colorado had a San Jose-like breakout year.

    • Sly says:

      Whatever happened to Salgado? I remember a foot injury last season but havent heard a peep. I remember him as a super exciting prospect only saw him a few times but though I think hes better on the wing but havent heard anything lately.

      • Rob says:

        He’s recovered — sort of. Still requires physio treatment on his foot regularly. Still, with the addition of Manneh, especially, but also with Hurtado, Salgado’s been lying in the weeds. Even Corey Hertzog’s had highlight moments in pre-season, so one would think that Salgado may have lost some sheen in Rennie’s eyes.

        That said, Camilo was also looking to maybe be the odd man out — and then he goes out to pot a hat trick (albeit against a much weaker opponent in the RailHawks).

        If Salgado can’t get minutes in the first six weeks or so, I think his future as a Cap will be in question.

        • Sly says:

          If Vancouver would let him go for draft picks. Man he’d be a steal for any team who doesnt need immediate returns for a big pacey winger…

          LA?

    • beto says:

      vancouver and dallas: underrated.
      san jose and colorado: overrated.

    • Steve says:

      I was thinking Vancouver was getting a raw deal in this rankings too, because they have improved a lot. But then I look at the sides ahead of them and I don’t know any of them deserve to be lower than the ‘Caps because all of the teams have improved.

      It’s pretty cool how the beginning of the season is truly a reboot like that.

  7. boosted335 says:

    Expect to see FC Dallas in the top 4 before week 4

    • Hogatroge says:

      lol

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      I pretty much had you penciled in for a smart remark about FC Dallas’ ranking as soon as I finished this. I could see Dallas as high as fifth in the West, or as low as eighth. MAYBE as high as fourth if RSL slips, but you’re not breaking into that top three of LA, Seattle and San Jose in my opinion. Will be interesting to see how it plays out, no question.

      • boosted335 says:

        They have played boring ugly soccer since the 2010 reg season ended…how could I possibly disagree with your current ranking?
        With that said a corner has been turned as evidenced by personnel and tactical changes, you’ll see it.

  8. TFC Ozz - Disgruntled TFC Fan says:

    As a TFC fan, I noticed today that everytime I read these power rankings I instinctively scroll down to the bottom… Here’s to hoping that changes this season!

    • Nathan says:

      That’s probably an instinctual action on all power rankings for you

    • beto says:

      TFC can be better than Chivas and possibly better than NE and MTL.. really depends on a lot of unproven players and midseason moves. Still im more optimistic about them then some other teams.

  9. elgringorico says:

    They lost Najar, but United will be a stronger team this season.

  10. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Not going to quibble rankings, since this is just a preseason poll, but I will say the top half has some very good teams. This should be fun…

  11. Jason says:

    DC didn’t do enough to jump up the standings, but NY did? How does shipping off 18 goals and bringing in a banged up defender make them better?

  12. Josh D says:

    We (DC) lost to cards and injuries.

  13. MrTuktoyaktuk says:

    Wins are going to be rare as unicorn horns for TFC. The question will be if the defense, which on paper at least should perform at a higher level than last year, can keep TFC in the game to grind out some points through draws. Reinforcements are not likely until the summer transfer window.

  14. DCU Matt says:

    DC United is stronger this year, and this is why I believe that. Two key reasons.

    -Another year, another more mature team. Last season, we had Pontius, DeLeon, Kitchen, Korb, Najar, Hamid, Raphael, just a few young guys. All of these guys are returning except for Najar, meaning we have a solid core of youth who are experienced. Pontius, that old man has been at DC for what, 4-5 seasons? And he was handed the armband when De Ro went down, and he ebcame an absolutely different person. Deleon was phenomenal last season but needs to ripen a bit more, and General Kitchen grows stronger every year. Hamid’s finally learning to possibly be able to consider to maybe be a bit calmer, and he’s set for a big year in the goal. Add Taylor, Casey, Rafael, White, and a lot of our roster consists of these guys. These guys will get better and they will grow into their roles. Maybe they won’t be that big of a part this year, but tell me how two of the best college players in the past couple of years aren’t going to hit the ground running? (Casey’s maiden voyage at Chivas USA is wiped from memory.)

    -Ben. The biggest cog is Ben. He is spreading a disease in DC’s locker room, and that disease is called “heart and bite”. Ben is ultra competitive and doesn’t want to lose at anything. With these guys under Ben, we will have a team that will not give up and will fight to the end and then some. Couple that with some key (and insane) substitutions and you have someone who does their job and does it well. I think he should have bean COTY last year, and I believe it will eventually come to fruition.

    • Cory says:

      This. This right here, Ives.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Could D.C. United be a top four team this year? Sure, it’s possible. Do I see everything coming together perfectly the way you see it coming together? Not quite. I still see D.C. being a playoff team, but I’m not buying the “We’ll be stronger” talk.

      • Davis. M. says:

        Thanks for the bulletin board material Ives. No one expected us to have the season we had this time last year, but we did. No one expected Olsen to grow into the coach he is today but he did. You can say we didn’t improve, but it is also useless once first kick starts. You can’t hold us back.

      • Cory says:

        Then do you see everything coming together perfectly for every other team you list higher than us? Because if you are basing this on talent alone, DCU is just as talented as the others. We lost Najar, but Najar wasn’t a vital piece. Our midfield core, one of the strongest, if not *the* strongest in the league, is still intact. B-Mac and Jakovic were great down the stretch together, Korb blossomed, and Woolard is healthy again (he was one of the most solid defenders in the league during the season before he got his concussion). And our depth at forward, while not the most talented, is still greater than last season, and will push them to play harder than before. Your argument is completely ridiculous. as neither Chicago, RSL, nor Houston have made stellar off-season signings either. Larentowicz and Cummings? Robbie Findley? Not impressed.

      • Eurosnob says:

        Ives, very few DCU supporters would claim that DCU belongs in the top 4 in the ranking, but singling out DCU as the team vulnerable to missing the playoffs is a bit much. DCU finshed second in the Eastern Conference last season and made it to the conference finals, despite DeRo missing many critical games. And while the past performance does not guarantee future success, their roster is young and should improve with another year of experience.

      • beto says:

        ives has it right, KC, Houston, NY, Chicago and DC are the playoff teams in the east and DC looks like the 5th among that group. Columbus is the only other team that could threaten that group

        the West on the other hand is up in the air with pretty much everyone but Chivas and Colorado looking like a playoff team.

  15. Zac Mac says:

    It sucks to see RSL down at 8, but I agree that until the young midfield and defense prove themselves up to the task that RSL isn’t a title contender. However… I do think that will change a few weeks into the season. Looking forward to breakout years from schuler, Gil, and Velasquez!

  16. Gnarls says:

    Threepeat!

  17. Big Chil says:

    I think Colorado is going to start slowly this year. They’ve brought in a lot of intriguing talent, but may be starting as many as 7 new faces this year. The Rapids were 1-4 in preseason (v. MLS teams), only scoring 3 goals. From what I saw, the team needs to get its chemistry together, so we’ll possibly be more of a second half of the season team this year.

    • timothy says:

      Agree. They have incredible promise, based on the players they have brought in, but it will take a while (and perhaps it may be next season as Ives suggests) for their chemistry to build. Some unasked questions are:
      1. Will they get their best attacking player from last season (Kamani Hill) on the field?
      2. Can we please, please not see Atiba Harris start like we have in the preseason?
      3. If we can’t score goals, will Pareja have the balls to put Dillon Serna in Rivero’s spot?
      4. Will Argus Security/Kronke Sports stop treating their fans as unfortunate pests?

      • beto says:

        my take:
        1. yes, he will start often.
        2. idk, i bet he is off and on, like a lot of our attack
        3. yup, serna and oneil will get minutes this year
        4. doubtful!

        i’m not really confident, but it should be better than last year. Should have a much better shot at winning the Rocky Mt. Cup tho!

  18. Zack says:

    Not one Seattle hater on the boards? Does this me we are no longer considered introspective narcissists who mindlessly crawl message boards pointing out the hypocrisy and inferior soccer knowledge of all non-sounder fans?

    • ed - houston says:

      I do most of my Seattle hating on MLS.com –not so much on this site.

    • jloome says:

      Well, you WERE doing fine.

      • Eric says:

        Well, losing Montero and probably Tiffert and adding Shalrie certainly wouldn’t give me much confidence and I do think they are higher than they should be but I think the biggest thing is that until they win matches that matter it’s just not as much fun as it used to be.

        How’s that?

        • Eric says:

          However, if the Martins deal goes through I retract my previous statement.

        • beto says:

          seattle is deep and not a lot of international duties this summer.. i would bet on them to win something this year weither it be CCL, USOC or MLS Cup. Certainly MLS Cup favorites.

    • Gnarls says:

      I fancy myself more a Seattle loather than hater, but you hit the nail on the head with that description.

    • chris thebassplayer says:

      No

  19. Cairo says:

    I assume the power rankings reflect where these teams will finish, rather than where they are the first week of the season. If that’s the case, I agree with your treatment of the Galaxy. But I will be the first one to say that Chivas USA will finish closer to 10th best than 19th. The players seem to like Chelis a lot, and the addition of Casillas and two much more experienced Chivas de Guadalajara players will pay dividends. Maybe not in week two, and maybe not by week 10. But by the second half, you’d have to think that this infusion of talent and experience combined with an excellent keeper will make the Goats competitive. Either way, this is going to be pretty damn entertaining.

    • beto says:

      good point, i believe this is just the power ranking at the end of the preseason, not the season end predictions.. SBI?

      Right now, Chivas is with out question the worse team in the league. Ya if they bring in 5-6 quality players they could move up but they are last on my board until they do so.

    • AdamProject says:

      If that is the case i would move RBNY up 6 spots

  20. Brain Guy says:

    DC’s addition of Carlos Ruiz may do the impossible — make RBNY fans loathe them even more.

  21. Mikebsiu says:

    Overrated: rsl, nyrb, Underrated:mOntreal, Vancouver, dc

  22. Adam M. says:

    The big question mark is what impact Juninho will have on the revamped Red Bulls. If he turns out to be the midfield general/deadly weapon they are hoping for and have needed in that spot for years (and they have every reason to expect he should be that), Red Bulls would be the most dangerous team in MLS. If not, they will have trouble scoring goals and could implode quickly.

    • Aguinaga says:

      Would agree with a broader view of this assessment. NY will find the going very tough this year, even with a healthy and on point Juninho. With a young DP signed at the halfway mark, 7th overall is my beloved Metro’s ceiling this year. We limp to the finish and barely make the playoffs without one.

  23. mcm says:

    Seem like there should be a separate rankings for post season and regular season. Now that it is pretty obvious you can barely make the playoffs and still be MLS champs.

  24. Matt H says:

    As evidenced by the shortest write up of any team, I hope the Fire continue to fly under the radar, with what may be the deepest team in the East. (MAY be)

    • barnie says:

      once again, matt h , your right. I think this is a breakout season for alex. Our midfield is so much stronger with the three additions. Our defense will shut down most opponents for much of the season. I think Austin Berry will have a better year than his rookie year last year. Chicago Fireeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  25. fischy says:

    The Union — 16th? eighth in the East?

    You’re seriously overrating them. Possibly the worst side to take the pitch in MLS history.

  26. sciroccer says:

    I predict that RSL has a year like LA did last year. Start out not so hot, maybe some bad results, but then finish out on top. I think the team at this point that is the one to watch is Seattle. I hate the Sounders, but they are good. Overated teams LA, KC, and Houston I think they all fall. Regardless of what happens, I would bet the West will have the majority of good teams this year. If the league took the top 8 in points into the playoffs, the west would dominate. I would just prefer we get back a balanced schedule, it would be nice to see every team live once a year!

    • Hogatroge says:

      Are you kidding? The East was inarguably stronger than the West last year.

      Not saying that it’s a given to be that way this year, but I am saying to assume the opposite is wrong.

      That said, I’m a Houston fan and I think we’re overrated.

  27. space god says:

    Houston, Portland: overrated
    DC, Vancouver, Montreal: underrated

    Chicago is my darkhorse pick.

  28. AdamProject says:

    I can see why RBNY is down on every ones lists being a year with a new coach and many new faces but then I think to my self Henry…. i mean MF Henry.

  29. Random_Timbers_Fan says:

    Honestly I’m surprised that the Timbers are coming in at ten. I appreciate the optimism from Ives, but I’m still a little nervous about the season. I absolutely believe the Timbers are going to play some beautiful football this year, we’ve already seen it in the preseason. We have a strong midfield and, even with the injuries, I like what we have for forwards. We will gibe teams a hard time and we’re going to score. What scares me is defense and keeper. At this points I think both are still questions looking for answers and until those answers arrive I have trouble with Portland being in the top ten, even if this is just preseason ranking. I’d put us somewhere between 15 and 12 and let them earn a better ranking.

  30. chris thebassplayer says:

    I think the Quakes will be lower than that . Slow start to the season due to injuries. Also, Bostock, the trialist from Tottenham isn’t nearly as good as Dawkins…not quick enough with the ball in midfield. Big drop off from Beita to Gargan…plus we never brought in another high quality CB to partner with Bernardez, or be a back up if Bernardez is out…still a problem area. Portland will very good, especially if they firm up the D…the ball movement is light years better than last season. I think Chivas is going to be very organized and very solid.

  31. Doug says:

    Are you mental?

    FCD with David Ferreira last year was clearly better than Vancouver, Colorado and Portland. What exactly do you think changed that would change that order?

    Thanks for once again showing how little you know about some teams. So much for being a national reporter.

    • Chris says:

      +1. Sorry, great blog… sometimes. When dealing with Western Conf. teams the coverage leaves a lot to be desired.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      There is a difference between knowing about teams and actually rating teams. Just because I don’t rate a team the way you do doesn’t mean I lack knowledge. I know about every team in the league. You should probably just accept the fact that not everyone is going to agree with your opinion of YOUR team. Fact is Dallas lost a big piece of their puzzle in DeGuzman, who was key to last year’s turnaround, and Brek Shea. Cooper could do well but I just don’t think your central midfield as constituted right now is going to get the job done.

      All that said, the reality is there isn’t much separating teams 5-8 in the west. I just happened to put Dallas 8th because I think other teams did much better jobs bolstering their rosters and addressing needs.

      You are more than entitled to disagree, but when you come at me with childish nonsense you’re crossing the line just a bit so settle down.

  32. Steve says:

    Calling your readers “childish” and their opinions “nonsense” just because they don’t agree with you may not be the best approach, but hey, what do I know, right?

  33. troy says:

    the earthquakes at 5? this is your most biased piece of soccer journalism yet mr. ives.

  34. ThaDeuce says:

    Olen likes to be underestimated. Looking for a D.C. surprise! Red Bulls Schmedbulls.

  35. ThaDeuce says:

    Olsen. That said, I think KC goes all the way.

  36. dan says:

    You are overdoing the significance of Sharlie Joseph in Seattle too much. He might have a renaissance year or he might continue his old crappy form from the past 2 years. He is no spring chicken and you are really assuming too much with him at Seattle.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Maybe so, but I’d love to have been able to see your thoughts on Eddie Johnson’s acquisition last year.

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