December 17, 2010

MLS Offseason: Power Rankings, Week #1

Honestly, I'm not sure why I bothered to do this Power Rankings list for how good off-season squads are, but I suppose it's a great way to make my predictions come 2011...less embarrassing. Still about a month until the draft, but the way offseason transactions have occurred, teams could dramatically change in the blink of an eye.

1. Real Salt Lake

You can negate some of RSL's shortcomings (eliminated in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield runners-up) with their phenomenal performance in the CONCACAF Champions League. Make no doubt though that they will focus the first two months of the season solely on the Champions League before taking the reigns at first place. Salt Lake is possibly one of the strongest clubs MLS has ever had at this present moment. And Alvaro Saborio signed officially from Sion is a great boost, along with Arturo Alvarez.

2. Colorado Rapids

Traditionally, the defending MLS Cup champion has a strong subsequent campaign, and normally vies for the Supporters' Shield. It's hit or miss on how they will handle the Champions League (although it would be nice if they took after RSL). The same cast is around, and will have some extra energy as being the defending titleholders and some extra seats filled in DSG Park.

3. New York Red Bulls

This squad has so much attacking firepower, that they will hardly feel the loss of Angel. If MLS establishes conferences again this year, the Red Bulls will likely have a 15-20 point advantage over the second-place Eastern Conference team. Good team, making the east look less...laughable.

4. Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle's fan support will only ignite even more with the arrival of the Timbers and Whitecaps. For the hardcore supporters, they will be happy to know that the Sounders should be able to comfortably defeat their two foes from across the Willamette and north of the border. Unfortunately, I'm not expecting close matches at this point in time. Then again, MLS...parity. The Sounders do have the chance to vie for the Shield, but I think they will be held back, since they will likely take priority in the Open Cup and Champions League, especially have their disaster in last year's Champions League campaign.

5. FC Dallas

One of the most entertaining clubs in to watch in MLS have just suffered an array of blows (none like Columbus however). Cunningham, McCarty, and Harris...gone. Still, Schellas Hyndman can wryly assemble a hardworking roster that has strength, passing, and some flare. The Hoops will probably be able to attract more than 10,000 fans to every game this season. There is also the tradition of one MLS club floundering in the Champions League Preliminary Stage. That flounder club is Dallas.

6. Los Angeles Galaxy

7. Sporting Kansas City

8. Philadelphia Union

From what we've seen in the latter half of the season, the Union have a talented group of young individuals. To make matters better, Peter Nowak

9. D.C. United

In all honesty, with a horrendous performance the Black-and-Red gave the nation's capital, they should be relegated to the PDL level. Thankfully, MLS is a closed-franchise structure of anti-Westerveltists, so therefore, the United are still in MLS! I believe they've made some wise moves with selecting Ngwenya and Wolff in the Re-Entry draft. Still, this won't be a Championship club. Maybe a club vying for the Open Cup title, certainly no Shield or MLS Cup to add to the collection. Expect them to be back in the playoff bubble, and narrowly slide into the playoffs thanks to Garber's playoff expansion. From there...two games and out.

10. Chicago Fire

11. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

12. New England Revolution

13. San Jose Earthquakes

14. Houston Dynamo

15. Toronto FC

16. C.D. Chivas USA

17. Columbus Crew

18. Portland Timbers

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Tyler Walter

Author & Editor

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