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SBI MLS Preseason Power Rankings


Photo by Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports


Following lengthy negotiations that threatened to derail the start of the season, Major League Soccer is set to kick off this weekend with the LA Galaxy looking poised to defend their crown.

Despite the loss of Landon Donovan, the Galaxy look to be the frontrunners once again due to the strike partnership of Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes. However, with a constantly improving Western Conference nipping at their heels, the Galaxy will have to really work to maintain their status atop the league.

The Seattle Sounders are once again poised to chase the ever-elusive MLS Cup following last season’s double, while the New England Revolution, Columbus Crew, D.C. United and Toronto FC appear to have title aspirations coming out of the East.

Elsewhere, the league has plenty of teams jockeying go take that next step into contention, while newcomers Orlando City and New York City FC will prove to be wild cards heading into their inaugural MLS campaigns.

With so many teams adding pieces from top to bottom, ordering them heading into 2015 was surely a challenge, but here is how the staff at SBI Soccer sees things shaking out this season.

Here is a look at the SBI MLS Preseason Power Rankings:

SBI Preseason MLS Power Rankings


LA Galaxy

OUTLOOK– Until dethroned, the LA Galaxy remain king. The loss of Landon Donovan will surely be a major detriment, but the attacking duo of Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes still strikes fear in every MLS defense. The Steven Gerrard-led cavalry comes during the summer, but the pieces in place currently are more than enough to make the Galaxy a contender for yet another MLS Cup.



OUTLOOK– After falling just an extra time short of an MLS Cup last season, the Revolution are back, and perhaps even better. The introduction of Juan Agudelo gives the Revs another scoring option in front of Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones. With most of the team’s core returning, the Revs look set to make another deep playoff run.


Seattle Sounders FC

OUTLOOK–  Fresh off of a U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign, the Sounders remain searching for the team’s first MLS Cup. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins return to lead the forward line, while bulldog Osvaldo Alonso continues to roam the midfield. Although the loss of DeAndre Yedlin will surely leave its mark, the Sounders should rival, and perhaps even surpass, the successes of last season

4. COLUMBUS CREW (14-10-10)


OUTLOOK–  The Crew were the darlings of the 2014 season, as Gregg Berhalter’s side made a run through the Eastern Conference en route to a playoff appearance. With the lessons of last season in the back of their mind, a young Crew group, led by the likes of Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp, and Michael Parkhurst, are poised to take the next step this season.

5. TORONTO FC (11-15-8)


OUTLOOK–  Another year, another offseason retool for Toronto FC, who look even better on paper than they did last season. The introductions of Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore have created plenty of headlines, and rightfully so, but the additions of Damien Perquis and Benoit Cheyrou could prove the difference between last season’s top-loaded roster and this season’s balanced out machine.

6. D.C. UNITED (17-9-8)


OUTLOOK–  Ben Olsen’s side surprised many last season, but few will be surprised by D.C. United this season. With Bill Hamid in net and one of the league’s top defenses back in the fold, D.C. should be strong from the back once again, although the group’s forward unit provides questions to start the season with the absences of Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson due to suspension and medical issues, respectively.



OUTLOOK–  Sporting KC should rebound from the tired legs that plagued them last season, and the introduction of Rogers Espinoza into the midfield will provide a new dynamic in the center of the park. This summer’s Gold Cup will likely weaken the team’s lineup with Espinoza, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi all likely for call-ups, but if Dom Dwyer can continue scoring, SKC should contend again.

8. REAL SALT LAKE (15-8-11)

RSL Logo

OUTLOOK– RSL enter the 2015 season without some of the club’s most familiar faces. Ned Grabavoy, Chris Wingert and Nat Borchers are all gone, leaving plenty of holes in the RSL roster. One of those holes will be filled by the proven Jamison Olave, but younger guys like Luis Gil will need to step up in 2015.


9. FC DALLAS (16-12-6)


OUTLOOK–  A mere away goal stood between FC Dallas and advancement last season, and this season’s attack looks just as potent on the back of Rookie of the Year Tesho Akindele. Behind that, however, is where questions lie, as losses in the defense and midfield may hold the team back from being a true contender in the increasingly competitive Western Conference

10. PORTLAND TIMBERS (12-9-13)


OUTLOOK-Last season was a disappointment, meaning this season is likely do-or-die for a Timbers team with plenty of talent. Darlington Nagbe has to be expected to improve upon last season’s frustrating stat line, and Liam Ridgewell should be sharper with a full-season ahead of him. The midfield is questionable, however, especially due to the injury woes of Diego Valeri, who will miss a large chunk of time to start the season.



OUTLOOK–  Orlando City’s inaugural voyage has potential to be a fruitful one. With Kaka at the helm of a young group, the team could develop into a quick contender if the team gels properly. That’s a big if, though, as there will certainly be a learning curve for the group’s young core to start their first MLS campaign.




OUTLOOK–  The Whitecaps’ 2014 season ended in heartbreaking fashion, but the team returns a young group with plenty of talent. Pedro Morales is a stud in the midfield and newcomer Octavio Rivero appears to be the forward that the team lacked last season. If Rivero lives up to that monicker, the Whitecaps can be a contender. If not, goals will once again be hard to come by.

13.  NEW YORK RED BULLS (13-10-11)


OUTLOOK–  Following an offseason filled with controversy, the 2015 Red Bulls hardly resemble that of last season’s 2014 postseason run. Gone are Thierry Henry, Mike Petke and Tim Cahill, although Sacha Kljestan, Felipe Martins and Jesse Marsch have come in their stead. The pressure is on reigning Golden Boot winner Bradley Wright-Phillips to rival last season’s haul, despite the change in supporting cast around him.



OUTLOOK–  NYCFC has plenty of stars to lead the way in their inaugural season. David Villa, Frank Lampard and Mix Diskerud will certainly leave their mark in attack and in the midfield, but it is the defense that remains the team’s weakness on paper. With the likelihood of several new additions still coming in this season, NYCFC could feature a whole new look before the stretch run.



OUTLOOK– The Union sputtered through the first half of 2014 before turning it on late to challenge for a postseason spot. That challenge came up short in heartbreaking fashion, but the Union have made some offseason acquisitions that should contribute from the get-go in C.J. Sapong, Fernando Aristeguieta and Steven Vitoria. Following 2014, pressure lies on goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi, who will now have a full year to prove his mettle to the Union faithful.

16. HOUSTON DYNAMO (11-17-6)


OUTLOOK– This offseason was one of change for the Dynamo, has longtime head coach Dom Kinnear left the club for the San Jose Earthquakes. His replacement comes in the form of former Premier League manager Owen Coyle, who will have a shiny new striker to work with in July upon the arrival of Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres. The area that needs the most improvement will be defense, which will now see the introduction of Raul Rodríguez  as a positive.

17. CHICAGO FIRE (6-10-18)


OUTLOOK– The Chicago Fire set records in 2014, but none that you necessarily want to have. The kings of the draw from last season enter 2015 with a retooled lineup that boasts three new Designated Players in the form of Kennedy Igboananike, David Accam and Shaun Maloney. Things will take time to gel, but the Fire appear to be an improvement from last season’s team.

18. MONTREAL IMPACT (6-18-10)

Logo Impact MLS

OUTLOOK– On the heels of their CONCACAF Champions League efforts, the Montreal Impact have already proven that they have plenty of fight heading into the 2015 season. Ignacio Piatti will look better following a short stint with the team in 2014, although the team will be hampered for both goals and leadership with the departure of Marco Di Vaio.



OUTLOOK– Dom Kinnear has returned to the place he called home for so long, and returns to a new stadium, but a lot of work to do with a flawed team. The Earthquakes struggled badly to score goals in 2014, and injuries riddled the defense. The team didn’t make a ton of changes to the roster, making a turnaround unlikely, even with the highly regarded Kinnear at the helm.

20. COLORADO RAPIDS (8-18-8)


OUTLOOK– The Rapids were the worst team in the league over the second half of the season, and Pablo Mastroeni heads into his second season in charge fielding a team that should be better. The question is how much better? Boosting the midfield with the likes of Marcelo Sarvas and Sam Cronin will help, but the Rapids will struggle in the stacked Western Conference.

What do you think of the SBI Preseason MLS Power Rankings? Which teams do you see being ranked too highly? Who didn’t get enough respect?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Some of my thoughts on the upcoming season…I am really excited for the 20th season of MLS!

    I see another year of the toughest teams battling eachother in the West. I think this can be the year that all 3 Cascadia teams make the playoffs. I think it will come down to the last few games with Seattle and LAG going at it again. CCL games for the two could keep other teams close at the top of the table.

    I see some similarities between Orlando and Seattle when they were an expansion team. If the fans are as passionate as they seem in Orlando, I expect them to make a play for one of the last playoff spots in the East. I would be surprised if DC United had a season like last year. I expect them to fall back in the mid table range but still make the playoffs. Toronto is doing a damn good job at showing you cant buy a championship in the MLS. I expect them to finally get over the playoff hump and finish top 3 in the East behind the Revs and Columbus

    MVP Clint Dempsey
    Golden Boot top 3: Dwyer, Keane and Altidore
    Seattle over the Revs in the final

    I think Seattle will finally get that elusive MLS Cup this year. I think Garth Lagerway is an excellent signing and will put this team in position to win another trophy or two this year. Martins and Dempsey are magical to watch(Even the Bayern defenders at the all star game had fits with them) and if the defense can keep it together they will be tough to beat.

  2. This power ranking is trash. The Dynamo just beat NY and destroyed Orlando (Kaka looked like his name and was totally frustrated). This was while missing Barnes ( last years leading scorer), Davis left after 30 min , and no Cubo yet. Do your usually and keep jocking the “big” clubs, instead of actually following games and doing homework.

  3. Saying that the Dallas attack will be “on the back of Rookie of the Year Tesho Akindele” is interesting. I’m not sure he is even a first choice XI starter. He will get minutes, but the offense will go through Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo way more than Tesho.

  4. I think it’s a pretty good pre-season ranking. Many of the negative comments seem to be from fans of particular teams who think the ranking underestimates their team. Note to SBI: Let’s remember to trot this prediction out at the end of the season so we can see how you did. Also, let’s bring out last seasons pre-season ranking for review. I’m curious.

  5. I’d say these rankings (predictions) are pretty fair. TFC will do well this year, finish no lower then 3rd in the East.

  6. I dont rate Toronto anywhere near that high. If you think the addition of Jozy will make any difference I think you’re fooling yourself. I rate them 3’d or 4th in the East at best, maybe lower.

  7. The fact that you didnt mention Olave leaving NY and then ranked them 13th tells me all I need to know

  8. Not saying they don’t deserve to be ranked relatively high because of their performance last year, but anyone else expecting a drop from Seattle? They lost Yedlin. They added no one. They’re banking on moving Evans to CB, which admittedly might work. They rely on a core of older players like Dempsey, Evans, Martins, Alonso, and Marshall; all of whom are or will be in their 30s by season end. Some of that group had really good seasons last year, like Marshall, and its hard to see any of them improving or even maintaining that form.

    And a lot of MLS teams look like they got better. (Revs, Crew, Toronto, Dallas, Sporting)

    • Part of it is not having guys miss as much time for the national team. Dempsey and Yedlin missed a lot and even Evans missed here and there. So with that I feel like the strike duo will be really good. Mears is a pretty smart player so while not as attacking as Yedlin (or speedy), the dropoff isn’t huge. Last year they won the SS with a team who didn’t know each other, this team now has a year under it’s belt. I think they will be fine

    • “They added no one.”

      Except they did.

      First team: Mears, Parsemain healthy, possibly Roldan
      Second team: Roldan, Correa, Jones, Mansaray, Perkins, etc.

      Sounders were spread a bit thin last year chasing the Open Cup. This year, that Second team provides a tremendous amount of young talent to keep the first team fresh.

      And they still have a ton of allocation money/Yedlin bucks to spend in the transfer window now that the CBA is worked out.

      • Who out of that group of players you listed can be relied on or expected to make much of an impact? They added college draft picks, a 32 year old defender that has played 30 games in the last 3.5 seasons, and guys without much of a resume from Martinique and Colombia.

        I’m sure Seattle will be fine, but it’s difficult for me to see how they’ll be any better than last season. They aren’t a team that has a cohesive team style of play that is going to get much better, in comparison to the potential of the Crew, Dallas, Sporting, or NE. Seattle relies on individuals, individuals that are older and might find it hard to duplicate their form from last year.

      • For starters, you wrote “They added no one.” I simply corrected your statement. Was it meant as hyperbole?

        Anywho…I’m guessing you didn’t watch any of the preseason.

        Mears will greatly help the defense—a place where Yedlin often left the Sounders exposed.

        All of the rest I listed offer a options for CCL and Open Cup. If you didn’t notice last year, the Sounders’ starters were pretty spent after playing so many extra minutes (e.g., Alonso, in particular, and look how it cost them).

        In the end, you almost answer your own question: “it’s difficult for me to see how they’ll be any better than last season.” They were the best team over the season, despite missing their highest-paid DP for a chunk of time. They narrowly missed hosting the Cup final. They don’t need to be any better. What they need is to not get worn out, and that’s how this year’s additions help them.

        I also don’t agree that because they have players in their 30s, we should expect to see a drop. Do you wanna apply that same logic to any of the other teams that will compete with Seattle? Revs’ Jones isn’t in his 30s? Galaxy don’t have old men in Keane and eventually Gerrard?

        Don’t misread: I think the Sounders will have to fight to win, same as last year (well, except that the West is even stronger now). But I don’t at all expect a drop.

  9. Posted this elsewhere…. but a good use of my lunch hour, if you ask me.

    Here’s the list that I’ve come up with (based on the teams’ websites) for those players that fit into the 28/8 category in the latest CBA. I don’t know this is 100% accurate, but it’s damn close:

    Chicago Fire
    Quincy Amarikwa (next season)
    Jon Busch
    Jeff Larentowicz
    Mike Magee
    Patrick Nyarko (next season)

    Colorado Rapids
    Marc Burch
    Bobby Burling
    Michael Harrington
    Nick LaBrocca
    Drew Moor

    Columbus Crew
    Kei Kamara
    Tyson Wahl

    DC United
    Davy Arnaud
    Bobby Boswell
    Fabian Espindola
    Sean Franklin (next season)
    Eddie Johnson
    Chris Rolfe

    FC Dallas
    Atiba Harris
    Stephen Keel
    Dan Kennedy
    Chris Seitz

    Houston Dynamo
    Corey Ashe
    Ricardo Clark
    Brad Davis
    David Horst (next season)
    Nathan Sturgis (next season)

    LA Galaxy
    Todd Dunivant
    Dan Gargan
    Alan Gordon
    Robbie Rogers (next season)

    Montreal Impact
    Eric Kronberg
    Justin Mapp
    Dominic Oduro

    New England Revolution
    Brad Knighton (next season)
    Chris Tierney (next season)

    Josh Saunders
    Chris Wingert
    Mehdi Ballouchy
    Jason Hernandez
    Ned Grabavoy

    NY Redbulls
    Dax McCarthy (next season)
    Kyne Reynish (next season)

    Orlando City FC
    Eric Avila (next season)

    Philadelphia Union
    Brian Carroll
    Conor Casey
    Michael Lahoud (next season)

    Portland Timbers
    Nat Borchers
    Jack Jewsbury
    Will Johnson
    Andrew Weber (next season)

    Real Salt Lake
    Kyle Beckerman
    Tony Beltran (next season)
    Javier Morales
    Jamison Olave (next season)
    Nick Rimando

    San Jose Quakes
    Ty Harden (next season)
    Steven Lenhart (next season)
    Shea Salinas (next season)
    Khari Stephenson (next season)
    Chris Wondolowski
    Marvell Wynne

    Seattle Sounders
    Troy Perkins
    Kenny Cooper
    Chad Marshall
    Brad Evans
    Chad Barrett

    Sporting KC
    Chance Myers (next season)
    Paulo Nagamura
    Jacob Peterson

    Toronto FC
    Robbie Findley (next season)

    Vancouver Whitecaps
    Jordan Harvey

    • Of this Listing of Players very few (IMO) would/should be targets for teams looking to make a statement for the next season…..
      Mike Magee Backup Striker/Mentor to a Young forward pool
      Fabian Espindola Backup Striker/Mentor to a young forword pool
      Sean Franklin Could be impactful to a contender
      Chris Rolfe Depth at wide Mid/forward
      Will Johnson Could be impactful to a contender
      Chance Myers Mentor for young backs (2 yr contract)
      Tony Beltran Mentor for young backs (2 yr contract)
      Paulo Nagamura Possible impact to a contender or Good depth
      Kyle Beckermann Impact player this year/Mentor (diminishing return)

      Most of the players listed are multiple transfer players who are head-cases or of limited value beyond depth for any team worth a damn.

      • Yeah, if one of these players were to get antsy and threaten to test the new “open” market in MLS, their team is probably most likely to just drop them. This obviously wasn’t much of a concession by the owners as it affects mostly players on the downsides of their careers.

  10. That’s it, keep underestimating the Whitecaps. With a solid defence featuring Kendall “The Beast” Waston, a midfield that should be among the most creative in the league, and a nice group of maturing strikers, the ‘Caps will be in the top 3 in the West all year.

    • I’d say 12th is pretty good for a team that has never made the playoffs. The bottom line, however, is that these are pre-season rankings and are worth the paper they are written on, or rather, not written on.

  11. Reads more like a “these are my favorite teams” than an actual Power Rankings. It’s supposed to be an assessment of where teams stand now, not later.

    DCU missing Espindola and Johnson (and the questionable defensive performances against Alajuelense) should drop them.

    The whole bit about how Orlando needs to “gel” should drop them (as should the worrisome lack of red card discipline this preseason).

    Portland’s got a “questionable midfield” and has no Valeri to start the season. Guess what? That should drop them.

      • Montreal always has too many Europeans who fall apart later in the season with the MLS travel demands catch up with them.

      • This ranking isn’t a joke. Montreal is ALWAYS the lowest ranked team in the east prior to the start of the season, no matter what (it was the case in 2013 and 2014 at least). Probably there’s a clause in the SBI rankings regulations which stipulate that Montreal must be the last eastern conference team in the preseason power rankings, even if they are the defending MLS Cup/Supporters Shield/CCL champions. 🙂

  12. If your policy for the top spot is that “until dethroned, Galaxy remain king”, shouldn’t you put Toronto FC at about 14th? They’ve never proved they’re any better than that.

      • What a false calculus ! TFC rank #5 is a pure joke just like last year. You should stop those power ranking cause you simply discredit yourself mate

      • Easy killer.

        Lists like this are for clicks, posts and back and forth banter. They aren’t an exact science.

      • Sponz: Let’s here your exact scientific calculation. This should be good… and by good I’m thinking “unintelligent”.

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