1: LA Galaxy
It’s tradition to start the previous year’s MLS Cup winner at No. 1 in the Power Rankings, but several members of the committee actually have LA outside the top five. They lost half their midfield, and Stevie G will not arrive for another four months.
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
Key Additions: None (yet)
Key Losses: Landon Donovan (M), Marcelo Sarvas (M)
This Week: Friday vs. Chicago (10 pm; Unimas)
2: New England Revolution
Deserve a top spot, and are probably one of the top three teams if you look at the course of the season. But for Week 1, with no Jermaine Jones and Andrew Farrell still learning a (crucial) new spot and a tough trip to Seattle, will the Revs still be here in a week?
Head Coach: Jay Heaps
Key Additions: Juan Agudelo (F)
Key Losses: Patrick Mullins (F), AJ Soares (D)
This Week: Sunday at Seattle (9:30 pm; Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes)
3: Seattle Sounders
Reconfigured half of the back line, and have no Ozzie Alonso to cover the entire midfield for at least a little bit. Like LA and New England, this team is built for the long haul, but don’t expect the first several weeks of the season to be overly kind.
Head Coach: Sigi Schmid
Key Additions: Tyrone Mears (D), Andres Correa (D)
Key Losses: DeAndre Yedlin (D), Djimi Traore (D)
This Week: Sunday vs. New England (9:30 pm; Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes)
4: Toronto FC
We’re much higher on TFC at this point than we were in 2014, when we had them 14th in the first Power Rankings of the year. The midfield and attack both have talent and depth; how well the defense functions should determine this team’s ceiling.
Head Coach: Greg Vanney
Key Additions: Jozy Altidore (F), Sebastian Giovinco (F)
Key Losses: Gilberto (F), Doneil Henry (D)
This Week: Saturday at Vancouver (6 pm; MLS LIVE)
5: Columbus Crew
This is the team everybody should bet upon getting out of the gates quickly. They return the vast majority of their roster and made a clear upgrade at center forward with the addition of Kei Kamara. Continuity, talent, and a little bit more savvy… watch out for Columbus.
Head Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key Additions: Kei Kamara (F), Kristinn Steindorsson (M)
Key Losses: Bernardo Anor (M), Jairo Arrieta (F)
This Week: Saturday at Houston (8:30 pm; MLS LIVE)
6: Vancouver Whitecaps
Watch out for Vancouver, too. The ‘Caps were a goal-scorer away from being truly lethal last season, so they went out and spent on Rivero (who’s generated lots of preseason buzz). That back line, however, needs to come together quickly.
Head Coach: Carl Robinson
Key Additions: Octavio Rivero (F), Diego Rodriguez (D)
Key Losses: Sebastian Fernandez (M), Andy O’Brien (D)
This Week: Saturday vs. Toronto FC (6 pm; MLS LIVE)
7: FC Dallas
One insane member of the Power Rankings Politburo had Dallas seventeenth in his preseason Power Rankings, which dragged them out of a top four spot. He has been sent to Siberia for re-education. FCD, if they stay healthy, are Shield & Cup contenders.
Head Coach: Oscar Pareja
Key Additions: Michael Barrios (M), Dan Kennedy (GK)
Key Losses: Andres Escobar (M), Raul Fernandez (GK)
This Week: Saturday vs. San Jose (8:30 pm; MLS LIVE)
8: Sporting Kansas /strong>
Another team that did major back-line surgery, and are still waiting for (underrated, extremely important) right back Chance Myers to get 100 percent fit. The attack should be among the league’s best, though – with or without Rafael Van der Vaart.
Head Coach: Peter Vermes
Key Additions: Roger Espinoza (M), Krisztian Nemeth (F)
Key Losses: Aurelien Collin (D), C.J. Sapong (F)
This Week: Sunday vs. New York (7 pm; Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes)
9: Real Salt Lake
The core is a year older, which means more pressure will fall onto the shoulders of guys like Chris Schuler, Luis Gil, Joao Plata, Sebastian Jaime and Luke Mulholland. Add in a possible formation change, and things just feel different for RSL. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily a good one, either.
Head Coach: Jeff Cassar
Key Additions: Jamison Olave (D), Demar Phillips (D)
Key Losses: Nat Borchers (D), Ned Grabavoy (M)
This Week: Saturday at Portland (10:30 pm; MLS LIVE)
10: D.C. United
We had our doubts even before they were thrashed in Costa Rica. Bill Hamid was monstrous last year, and D.C. have to figure out how to reduce his workload. Dragging a third central midfielder into the game every now and then could help dampen the tempo and make this team more selective.
Head Coach: Ben Olsen
Key Additions: Markus Halsti (M), Michael Farfan (M)
Key Losses: Lewis Neal (M), Jeff Parke (D)
This Week: Saturday vs. Montreal (3 pm; MLS LIVE)
11: Orlando Soccer Club
This seems unrealistically high for an expansion team – even one that has Kaka. OCSC’s defense is particularly worrying, especially given the fact that they want to play fast, open, attacking soccer.
Head Coach: Adrian Heath
Key Additions: Whole Team
Key Losses: None
This Week: Sunday vs. NYCFC (5 pm; ESPN2/WatchESPN/ESPN Deportes)
12: New York City FC
Just as many questions as OCSC, even if they’re a solid bet to play a drastically different style. What formation, though, remains a mystery – especially with several guys looking out of their depth in trying to replicate the Kyle Beckerman role during NYCFC’s preseason flirtations with a midfield diamond.
Head Coach: Jason Kreis
Key Additions: Whole Team
Key Losses: None
This Week: Sunday at Orlando City (5 pm; ESPN2/WatchESPN/ESPN Deportes)
13: New York Red Bulls
After owning New York, the Red Bulls are suddenly chasing their noisy neighbours for the hearts of soccer fans in the big apple.
Head Coach: Jesse Marsch
Key Additions: Sacha Kljestan (M), Ronald Zubar (D)
Key Losses: Thierry Henry (F), Jamison Olave (D), Eric Alexander (M)
This Week: Sunday at Sporting KC (7 pm; Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes)
14: Portland Timbers
It’s not great when “decimated by injuries” is the first participial phrase in any season preview. Portland have a lot of guys, front to back, who can do good work in this league, but the best of them are starting the season on the sidelines. Add in a newly constructed backline and a new ‘keeper, and there are just too many questions.
Head Coach: Caleb Porter
Key Additions: Nat Borchers (D), Adam Kwarasey (GK)
Key Losses: Donovan Ricketts (GK), Michael Harrington (D)
This Week: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm; MLS LIVE)
15: Houston Dynamo/strong>
Another team shrouded in mystery, thanks to the arrival of the new manager. Nobody’s really sure what formation they’ll play (though the 4-5-1 with Boniek advanced has looked promising), nor how reliable the midfield depth is.
Head Coach: Owen Coyle
Key Additions: Raul Rodriguez (D), Cubo Torres (F)
Key Losses: Tally Hall (GK)
This Week: Saturday vs. Columbus (8:30 pm; MLS LIVE)
16: Montreal Impact
One anonymous Eastern Conference rival warned us not to sleep on Montreal. And then they beat Pachuca. So let’s consider this team No. 16 with a bullet – especially if Jack McInerney can rediscover his scoring touch.
Head Coach: Frank Klopas
Key Additions: Marco Donadel (M), Laurent Ciman (D)
Key Losses: Marco Di Vaio (F), Felipe (M)
This Week: Saturday at D.C. United (3 pm; MLS LIVE)
17: Philadelphia Union
This team is a lot like the Red Bulls in that, first and foremost, we love the five-man midfield. It’s hard, however, to know exactly what to make of the back line, and the fact that there are still questions at goalkeeper is one of the league’s best long-running gags.
Head Coach: Jim Curtin
Key Additions: Fernando Aristeguieta (F), Steven Vitoria (D)
Key Losses: Amobi Okugo (M), Carlos Valdes (D)
This Week: Saturday vs. Colorado (4 pm; MLS LIVE)
18: Chicago Fire
Brought in a ton of new faces, will most likely play a new formation, reconfigured the back line, and Mike Magee’s still hurt. Things could end up going very right for the Fire, but a lot of pieces have to come together in a very short amount of time.
Head Coach: Frank Yallop
Key Additions: David Accam (M), Shaun Maloney (M)
Key Losses: Bakary Soumare (D), Gonzalo Segares (D)
This Week: Friday at LA Galaxy (10 pm; Unimas)
19: San Jose Earthquakest
If you come into the season on a 15-game winless skid, you start the year near the bottom of the Power Rankings. Big issue for the Quakes is that so much of their talent is either not quite ready (Tommy Thompson, Mark Sherrod, JJ Koval) or on the wrong side of 30 (Wondo, Matias Perez-Garcia, Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart).
Head Coach: Dominic Kinnear
Key Additions: Innocent Emeghara (F), Paulo Renato (D)
Key Losses: Jon Busch (GK), Sam Cronin (M)
This Week: Saturday at FC Dallas (8:30 pm; MLS LIVE)
20: Colorado Rapids
You probably know the ugly stats by now: 14-game winless skid in which they’ve taken just two points. The roster’s undergone nearly a complete overhaul, and while that’s certainly understandable, it means Mastroeni has a lot of work to do in trying to get these guys on the same page.
Head Coach: Pablo Mastroeni
Key Additions: Juan Ramirez (M), Marcelo Sarvas (M)
Key Losses: Chris Klute (D), Marvell Wynne (D)
This Week: Saturday at Philadelphia (4 pm; MLS LIVE)