1- New England
From my vantage point this is clearly the best team in the league with the best shot of winning MLS Cup. Shalrie Joseph showed his quality once again this time in more of an advanced role given then absence of both Mauricio Castro and Steve Ralston.
2- Toronto FC
Amado Guevara is arguably the most important and influential player in MLS over the past five years. Mo Johnston knows that, and made the move to get him. Add in other players whose experiences are in more competitive leagues on a daily basis than MLS and you have a recipe for winning.
3- Columbus Crew
This team has serious issues with finishing and despite all the quality in the midfield and at the back, if a move is not made to acquire another striker the Crew could miss the playoffs yet again. Chad Marshall is having a good season and perhaps deserves a national team look once again.
4- Chicago Fire
Something about the Fire’s performances have been unconvincing for me. I suppose they are getting results but I could see the house of cards collapsing soon. Then again if John Thorrington can finally reach his potential he will be the first choice striker.
5- DC United
The Red and Black are back and moving forward yet again. Great performances from Marcello Gallardo and Santino Quaranta in midfield showed that United still has the quality to do MLS proud in international competitions.
6- FC Dallas
The Hoops continue to be not good enough to win much of anything. As my colleague Johnathan Starling mentioned at the Third Half on Thursday night, FCD waited until the final five minutes to make an effort to score.
7- Kansas City
The Wizards seemed spooked by the turf at BMO Field which is understandable, but since MLS seems to promote the use of artificial surfaces the Wizards and everyone else need to suck it up. I for one think MLS has little credibility abroad if it continues to promote the use of turf in its stadiums.
8- Red Bull NY
A goal for Jozy Altidore but if I were Bob Bradley I would drop him from the national team. Altidore has looked awkward and out of position in every Red Bull game I have seen this season, and I don’t think he is showing the grit and maturity to handle it just yet.
The Rapids are beginning to integrate back into the squad players who missed the beginning of the campaign with injury. As my TASS co-host Dave Denholm predicted, this is causing trouble for the Rapids.
10- LA Galaxy
Landon Donovan is having a great season, but beating Chivas USA whose defensive quality resembles that of a non-league team in England doesn’t prove a whole lot other than to tell us that I was wrong: The Galaxy are not the worst team in MLS. Again, the Galaxy have their own issues at the back and in goal that may prevent the team from making the playoffs.
11- San Jose
A tough late game collapse in New Jersey but still the Quakes have a quality and structure on the pitch that is outstanding for an expansion team.
Injuries and suspensions have taken a toll on the two time defending MLS Cup champions, but help is on the way: Chivas USA is coming to town.
13- Real Salt Lake
Man for man this team could be the best in MLS. But the squad has serious chemistry issues and I get the impression that Coach Jason Kreis may have too many options and not know who to settle on to start. Moreover, when you are steeped in a culture of losing like RSL, it’s tough to break it even if you make several good signings.
14. Chivas USA
For the third straight week a Home Depot Center tenant is last in these ratings. This week it is the supporter and defensively challenged Chivas USA. Unlike the Galaxy, I don’t see a way out for Chivas short of the unrealistic idea of “borrowing” a player like Omar Bravo from Guadalajara. This team has too many defensive weaknesses and problems in its structure to be considered a serious contender to repeat as Western Conference champion.