1- Columbus

Guille Barros Schelotto continues to be the most dangerous player in MLS. Frankie Hejduk and Chad Marshall return to form a solid core at the back, and with Robert Warzycha a player of some note for club taking over for Sigi Schmid, the Crew will not miss a beat. The runaway favorites to repeat this season.

2- Chicago

Blanco and McBride. The best defense around and role players like John Thorrington, Chris Rolfe and Justin Mapp. This team is extremely dangerous but at times seems unsettled at home. Dropping points at Toyota Park was a problem last season: the Fire cannot afford for that to happen this year.  Maybe I’m simply looking for a reason not to pick an obvious choice to win the MLS Cup this season. Don’t be shocked if European clubs come calling for Gonzalo Segaras over the summer. He’s reached a level very few defenders in MLS since the early days of the league have achieved.

3- Toronto FC

Acquiring DeRo from Hosuton in addition to keeping Amado Guevara around another year makes this team lethal. Rohan Ricketts seemed more settled towards the end of last season and the addition of Pablo Vitti is massive. Add Adrian Serioux to what was a terrible defense a year ago and a coach perhaps too successful and smart to be in MLS, and you have a winning product. Danny Dichio returns for his final season as a football professional. That’s a cause worth fighting for, and expect the colorful and skilled Dichio to have a surprisingly strong impact this season.

4- New York

Speaking of managers, Juan Carlos Osorio has proven his quality the past two seasons. The Red Bulls are short on talent aside from superstar Juan Pablo Angel, but tactics and discipline more than fill the talent void. Khano Smith’s signing helps the team on left side of midfield and the two graduates of USL, Mac Kandji and Matt Mbuta should continue to provide the spark this season they did at the tail end of last season.

5- New England

Sadly the Revs, so solid for years are getting older and less capable. Father time caught up with this team last season, but thankfully they had won a trophy (even if it was sham event called Superliga) before the team went in the tank. An embarrassing 4-0 loss to Joe Public, or Trinidad at home typified the wear and tear fixture congestion, injuries and age had on the Revs. But with some luck, the Revs still have enough left to sneak into the playoffs for the eight straight season.

6- Kansas City

Curt Onalfo’s attacking minded tactics worked for the Wizards largely because defenders tend to lag behind in the MLS quality department. (turning on any random match from Europe  and comparing the defending to MLS matches will tell you this) But this season could mark a turning point for the league. the standard of defending and goalkeeping appears to be improving, while attacking play is stagnant. While that makes better football, it may be less entertaining. The Wizards lack the quality or the home stadium advantage to break out of the pack in a congested and difficult Eastern Conference. Were the Wiz, I mean the Wizards still out West, things would be different, as this team would finish 3rd in that conference.

7- DC United

How the mighty have fallen. Kevin Payne’s personnel mistakes from a year ago will not be easily corrected this season. Perhaps the greatest executive in league history even has an off year, but more pressing are stadium issues . What the Red and Black, MLS’ signature franchise does this season are immaterial. What needs to happen is for the PG’s County deal to come through without delay and to get United settled long term.