Time for the final positional ranking group today, the forwards.
For me the forwards were fairly cut and dry. The top eight or so teams were pretty simple to figure out and really you could argue any way between them and probably not be too wrong about it. After that teams 9-16 have a lot of questions to answer but all could make their way up the rankings by the season’s end. And the bottom three were fairly clear to me as well.
1. Los Angeles Galaxy – Hard not to place them at the top. With the likes of Robbie Keane and Edson Buddle, the Galaxy should have the top offense in the league again this season. The question will be, how long will it take them to get on the same page though. Keep an eye out for Jack McBean down the pine on the depth charts. The kid has the chops to be a stud in this league one day.
2. Seattle Sounders FC – Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson. Boy that duo could either be great or a bust. I think the thing with Johnson that not many are bringing up is the fact that he won’t be expected to carry this club on his own like his days in KC or even as far back as Dallas. Montero will still get the bulk of the goals and Johnson will definitely have the best midfield distribution that he’s ever gotten.
3. New York Red Bulls – So much talent up front it is scary. Thierry Henry will still make the headlines and lead the team in goals while Kenny Cooper will likely see his fair share. The biggest question will be about what happens with Juan Agudelo. He’s got too much talent to just sit on the bench in my book but he could jump over Luke Rodgers in the depth chart if Rodger’s visa issues never get sorted out.
4. Real Salt Lake – As long as Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio continue to work at a high level and maintain the number of goals they’ve scored the last couple of seasons together, this club will be one of the better offensive side yet again. I do worry a tad about their depth behind those two as it is a bit unproven but knowing how Jason Kreis develops players, they will be fine. I’d expect we’ll see a little more of Cody Arnoux this season though, he’s got the tools and skills to be a stud.
5. Toronto FC – I’ve been super high on the Reds this winter and it mostly boils down to how Danny Koevermans is in his first full year in Toronto. I believe he has the ability to be a Golden Boot winner if all the stars align properly for him there. Joao Plata and Ryan Johnson are two underrated players in my book, they’ll definitely contribute their fair share as well. I think Toronto finally has an offense that their fans can be proud of here.
6. D.C. United – Biggest question in my mind is when will Dwayne De Rosario and newcomer Hamdi Salihi be on the same page with one another. I think once that happens this group could lead the league in goals. We know DeRo can score his fair share and Salihi proved in the preseason that he can score a bunch as well. The depth is a little aged and could be iffy though as Josh Wolff and Miacon Santos are good but not great options.
7. Vancouver Whitecaps – Boy did Martin Rennie go out and snag as many strikers as he could this offseason. I like it to be honest. I think with Eric Hassli, Camilo and Sebastien Le Toux, this group will score goals in bunches. I rated them this low simply because I think there will be some growing pains as these big names get used to one another. Still it is hard to argue with the amount of quality talent this group possesses. Big question will be the progression of Omar Salgado and rookie Darren Mattocks. Both could be major players for them this season.
8. Sporting Kansas City – The talent is there and is still young but after seeing what Peter Vermes was able to do with this bunch a year ago, I have little doubts in my mind that they will be strong again this season. Adding Bobby Convey to the mix certainly helps and if rookie Dom Dwyer can be any bit as good as CJ Sapong was a year ago they will be set.
9. Philadelphia Union – I really think this is Danny Mwanga’s breakout season. He’s looked good in this first two seasons but this should be the year he finally breaks out and carries this club offensively. This group is extremely young however, only one player over the age of 30 (Lionard Pajoy), but I like where they are going with that youth. Chandler Hoffman could be exciting to watch in his rookie season.
10. Portland Timbers – Landing Kris Boyd was a huge deal for Portland but it was also a big risk. I think he’ll provide plenty of goals however and we’ve already seen him bag one in the preseason. We know teams will mark him closely which is why Jorge Perlaza will have to step up more this season. Outside of those two are two younger strikers in Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike. I do believe Dike will have a strong season though off the bench for them.
11. San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski has been a stud for two seasons in San Jose. That much carried this group to this high of a ranking. Look out for Steven Lenhart though to help carry the load this season. Outside of those two the depth is very thin.
12. FC Dallas – Blas Perez is the main man in Dallas but can he stand up and lead this team? Based on what I’ve seen in the preseason out of him I think it is certainly possible that he could be in the Golden Boot discussion. That being said this depth behind him is young, very young. I keep thinking that each season Ruben Luna will finally break out and be a solid contributor and this could finally be that season that he does so. I gotta think that Schellas Hyndman isn’t done adding depth to this position though.
13. Colorado Rapids – They’re this low simply due to the injury of Conor Casey, once he returns to full strength and gets back on the same page as Omar Cummings this ranking should be higher. The bigger question will be how newcomer Jaime Castrillón adapts to the league. From what some are saying, he’ll be a very strong contributor for them this season. But after those three the depth is very thin.
14. Houston Dynamo – I love Brian Ching and I think Will Bruin is talented but boy does this group lack a lot of bite after them. Can they find a double-digit scorer for this season? It’s been a score as you can mentality since 2008 out of this group and with Ching not getting any younger, it makes it hard to rate them any higher than this.
15. Chicago Fire – Dominic Oduro had a fantastic season last year and Patrick Nyarko provided plenty of assists. But the thing is this club lack a true target forward. Also, there are wonders around the league as to whether or not Oduro can replicate his form from last year. I think he will but someone else has to step up with him to lead this team in goals. Newcomer Federico Puppo could be the key to this group though, if he figures out how to play in MLS quickly enough, this group could be much higher by the season’s end.
16. Chivas USA – They got Juan Pablo Angel…and that is nearly it. I do like Alejandro Moreno still but the talent after the main two is such a big drop off. Rookie Casey Townsend looked good in the preseason and will likely be the wildcard of this bunch going forward this season.
17. Columbus Crew - Olman Vargas and Emilio Renteris could be good together. Keyword is could though. Renteria is a bit injury prone and after those two the depth is very young. Home grown player Ben Speas could be the X-Factor of the bunch, the management in Columbus are very high on him and where he could help take this team.
18. Montreal Impact – I’ve always been a fan of Justin Bruan and I do believe a new location will help restart his career. Playing along side Mike Fucito will be interesting to watch and those two could easily elevate this group to be higher down the road. The depth is very thin however and they won’t get their top draft pick (Andrew Wenger) until May.
19. New England Revolution – A ton of questions surrounding this group going into the season. Newcomer Sene didn’t look great in preseason and José Moreno hasn’t joined the club yet to help provide a boost. The depth is thin and there really isn’t a proven goalscorer out of the group.