2011 MLS Power Rankings: Preseason

2011 MLS Power Rankings: Preseason

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 14, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Power Rankings, 2011 MLS Previews, 2011 MLS Season

The 2011 Major League Soccer season is nearly 24 hours away. Hard to believe it but the offseason is done. All the months of planning and preparation for the new season have been handled and the clubs now gear up for First Kick 2011.

I decided to wait until the first week of the season to do my first Power Rankings of the new year. I didn’t want to bust out some rankings in mid-February when clubs were still making moves and have to update it again right before First Kick. So I waited and did positional rankings before team rankings as you all saw over the last two weeks.

The first rankings of the season were fairly easy to do for a change. The top was simple to figure out while teams 7-13 were kind of a toss up here and there. You could make arguments for all of them to be over one another really. And of course the bottom wasn’t that hard to figure out, though I’m sure some Vancouver fans will not like being so low.

Team Rank Record (W-L-T) Comments
1 0-0-0 0 pts. Usuaully I believe the top title is yours to start the season if you’re the defending champs but I cannot ignore how good I think RSL really is here. Confidence is super high with this club and Jason Kreis’ club has already played in two competitive matches this spring by beating Columbus in the CCL.
2 0-0-0 0 pts. Biggest X-factor will be Landon Donovan and the amount of rest he got this offseason. Throw in the addition of Juan Pablo Angel and some of the youth they added and this will be a very interesting club to watch in 2011.
3 0-0-0 0 pts. The cream of the crop in the east. If the Red Bulls don’t run away with this conference something will be really wrong in Harrison.
4 0-0-0 0 pts. Defending champs at four? Yeah, it kind of has to be like that right now. Gary Smith has all his starters back from the MLS Cup win but will it really be enough in a loaded western conference? I worry that they won’t be deep enough to handle a bigger schedule in 2011.
5 0-0-0 0 pts. A lot of roster gambles in Frisco this winter but this defense should still be really tough to get by in 2011. Brek Shea in the back may prove to be the biggest move made though by this club in the offseason, one that should be worth keeping an eye on.
6 0-0-0 0 pts. The preseason was sluggish for Sigi Schmid’s bunch but this club still remians a good one. All they need to do is keep pace in the west and they should have no problems reaching the playoffs and possibly even getting out of the first round this year.
7 0-0-0 0 pts. In an Eastern Conference that is as wide open as this year’s is, the Dynamo are in perfect position to capitalize on it. Dominic Kinnear has done a solid job re-tooling this club and making it younger. The midfield worries me a bit still but offensively look out for rookie Will Bruin, he’ll likely lead rookies in scoring this season.
8 0-0-0 0 pts. Placing the Quakes was a bit of an issue. For the most part it is the same club that reached a conference semifinal a year ago. But do we really think they’ll be there again in 2011? Also, do we really think Chris Wondolowski will score the way he did in 2010? The defense is ready to carry this club but someone has to assist Wondo.
9 0-0-0 0 pts. I really do like what Ben Olsen has done so far with this club. I think the real question will be surrounding this club however, is how long can they keep young Andy Najar? He should have an even bigger year with more support around him in the midfield with guys like Dax McCarty and rookie Perry Kitchen.
10 0-0-0 0 pts. A lot of people are down on the Crew and for good reason. You can’t blow up a roster the way they did and not be curious about them. I think they’ll struggle early but they should still be in the mix in the East. They still have plenty of talent and should they do well, then Robert Warzycha will look like a total genius for doing what he did this winter. If not, he’ll be the first coach fired this season.
11 0-0-0 0 pts. I like Sporting KC a lot, I really do but man, that 10-game roadie to start the season really worries me for them. If they stumble out of the gate it could linger for weeks until they get to finally go home in June. That is a long time away folks.
12 0-0-0 0 pts. The keeper situation and offense should be set but the defense will be the real worry again for Peter Nowak’s side. They weren’t that great last season and they have even less talent on the roster right now.
13 0-0-0 0 pts. Some have the Revs much higher than this but I’m waiting to really see how all of this Shalrie Joseph arrest mess gets sorted out by the club. I do think they’ll be better defensively and in the midfield in 2011 but gosh their offense worries me to death. Who can actually score for them? If Steve Nicol can get a DP that he’s been searching for up top then maybe they’ll be a contender in the East.
14 0-0-0 0 pts. Another club that could either be a contender or one battling for the second pick in next January’s draft. I don’t think they did enough to re-tool their offense though to compete. Unless someone steps up early it could be a long season in the Windy City.
15 0-0-0 0 pts. The Timbers will be that club no one really wants to face in 2011. They’ll be good enough to stay in games but probably not good enough defensively to win enough games to reach the playoffs. John Spencer has this club looking scary up top though with Kenny Cooper, Darlington Nagbe and others like Ryan Pore and Eddie Johnson.
16 0-0-0 0 pts. I do like what Robin Fraser has done with this club in the back, but there really isn’t enough scoring up top to really get me thinking they’ll compete right away. Justin Bruan’s injury has to concern some fans too.
17 0-0-0 0 pts. They’ve done a slow build in Vancouver and there is nothing wrong with that. In a way this club could easily surprise everyone and be very competitive in the West or they’ll likely just be another struggling expansion side. To me, it all comes down on their offense. If DP Eric Hassli can produce then this could be a very fun club to watch.
18 0-0-0 0 pts. Another slow building club, but this time it was a total rebuild from top to bottom. New boss Aron Winter has a lot of new faces in house up in Toronto but don’t expect them to be anything special anytime soon. This will be a long and rough season for Reds fans.
  • Does everyone forget that DC was a leaky faucet last year and that they did almost nothing to fix that problem. They brought in a CB who most likely won’t start and drafted an 18 yr old. They have the same goalie, the same outside backs and one of the same CBs. I think everyone needs to back off the DC United is considerably better than last year train. Yes, I think there midfield is much improved with Dax and a year older Najar, but he could be gone for long stretches with the U20 World Cup and their forward spot is still a mystery, is there a team in the league who would trade their starting forward pairing for Wolff and Nwenga (sp)? So only if Pontius (who had a great rookie season) is fully healthy and CD9 come close to his old form (which I really hope he does) will there strikers be improved from last year.

    I also will be bias but reasonable and say the Union will be better than Columbus, Houston, DC and San Jose. They are better at forward with Ruiz and their defense is considerably better because defense isn’t just your back four. They brought in a proven goalkeeper from Europe (which seems to translate in MLS- Kasey Keller, Jimmy Nielson) and brought in one of the best defensive center mids in the league in Brian Carrol. There back line lost Mike Orozco Fiscal who only began to play well when put at CB and was miserable at RB last season and replaced him with a 25 yr old Columbian National team CB (who also have had a great track record: Olave, Hurtado). They also had one of the youngest squads in the league last year which saw them get 7 pts in their first 10 games and 24 points in their last 20.

    • I have to agree with JohnC. Maybe they aren’t better than DC and Houston but they definitely got better this offseason. They improved their backline with Valdes. Their keepers are much better and deeper. They now have more depth up top and they also now have a solid pair of holding midfields(Carrol/Miglioranzi). I’m just going to say that I believe this statement, “They weren’t that great last season and they have even less talent on the roster right now” is incorrect.

    • Jason

      DC was a leaky faucet because they were constantly having to shift the line-up everywhere: goalkeeper, defense, and midfield. I’d be shocked if DC fielded the same line-up more than two times in a row. No team had more injuries than DC or had so many starters out for weeks and months at a time (or all season in the case of Namoff). You point out that the same players are there but fail to mention that Hamid only played 8 games,or that Jakovic only played 19 games, or that one of our better defenders (Zayner) didn’t even join the team until the end of the season. I think there’s plenty of reason to believe that the team’s defense is better if it stays healthy and has a reliable set of midfielders in front of it.

  • TCompton

    As a United fan, I’d have rather seen DC United down further on the list, but I can understand why you’ve ranked them above some of the other teams. They appear to have generally made the right moves this off season and have managed to actively address they’re (non health related) weaknesses that have existed over the past couple years. Still, until they can demonstrate the ability to win their home games, I have a tough time ranking them higher than #10.