What would First Kick be without some Power Rankings? The second edition is finally here just hours before the start of the 2011 MLS Season, and look who's on top. It's the LA Galaxy ruling the roost, with CCL hopefuls Real Salt Lake close behind and the New York Red Bulls trailing in third. All match times are ET.
Supporters’ Shield champs return their entire lineup minus one Edson Buddle. Swap in Juan Pablo Angel and things sound pretty good for Landon Donovan, David Beckham & Co.
Next Match: Tuesday at Seattle (9:30 pm, ESPN)
The way to San Jose(s): Jason Kreis & Co. visit the NorCal version on Saturday before entering the Monster’s Cave in Costa Rica next week.
Next Match: Tuesday vs. Saprissa (CCL, 9:30 pm, FSC), Saturday at San Jose (10:30 pm, Direct Kick)
With 20 nationalities represented, these Red Bulls are one of the most diverse teams in league history. Hans Backe must make his model UN work.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Seattle (7:30 pm, Direct Kick)
If Fabián Castillo is as big a stud as Schellas Hyndman says, expect Fredy Montero comparisons to come flying out of the woordwork. Latin-flavored roster offers a comfortable womb for Colombian to develop.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Chicago (8:30 pm, Direct Kick)
Saturday’s visit from Portland marks first time ex-FC Dallas teammates Drew Moor and Kenny Cooper will face each other since their youth club days in Dallas area.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Portland (9 pm, FSC)
The Rave Green have won both First Kick matches they’ve hosted by a combined 5-0 score line. They’d simply settle for a result against LA on Tuesday.
Next Match: Tuesday vs. LA (9:30 pm, ESPN)
They bombed out of the CCL, but they showed that Robert Warzycha’s changes—many changes—weren’t as disruptive as first thought. Injured regulars need to get healthy quick, though.
Next Match: Saturday at DC (7:30 pm, Direct Kick)
Ex-Real Madrid/AC Milan center back Júlio César addresses a major need. But Sporting will only go as the top three (Omar Bravo, Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury) go. And right now, one of them, Bunbury, can’t go at all because of an injury.
Next Match: Saturday at Chivas USA (10:30 pm, Direct Kick)
A quiet preseason, with no marquee signings and even fewer fireworks. Just the way Frank Yallop likes it. Can Chris Wondolowski repeat his success? Depends largely if Bobby Convey can repeat his.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm, Direct Kick)
A preseason to remember: only one loss in 12 matches. Geoff Cameron’s return from injury, defender Jermaine Taylor’s arrival and the emergence of rookie Will Bruin provide plenty of optimism. Enough to contend in the East?
Next Match: Saturday vs. Philadelphia (8:30 pm, Direct Kick)
The Union disappeared to Greece for preseason, and they picked up a gift along the way: former MVP Carlos Ruiz. But the question is: Can new goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, center back Carlos Valdés and holding mid Brian Carroll lock down the defense?
Next Match: Saturday at Houston (8:30 pm Direct Kick)
If last weekend’s Carolina Challenge Cup victory is any indication, Olsen’s Army, with Dax McCarty as his general and Charlie Davies and Joseph Ngwenya as his quick-strike force, is ready to be unleashed.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Columbus (7:30 pm, Direct Kick)
Kenny Cooper led the way as Jon Spencer’s side finished an undefeated preseason. The naming of new arrival Jack Jewsbury as captain says more about the soul of the league’s greenhorns than their record.
Next Match: Saturday at Colorado (9 pm, FSC)
Stumbling through the preseason, including a final loss to the Dynamo, the core of the club seems wobbly. Shalrie Joseph has his work cut out to regain control in the midfield—and the locker room. They benefit here only because so many other teams were worse.
Next Match: Sunday at LA (8 pm, TeleFutura)
Who’s going to score the goals? Who’s going to play defense? At least star-of-tomorrow Sean Johnson is between the pipes.
Next Match: Saturday at FC Dallas (8:30 pm, Direct Kick)
At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, newly signed Designated Player Eric Hassli is an absolute mountain—but he needs to get in shape fast if he wants to help the ‘Caps.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Toronto (6:30 pm, TSN)
It's the wrong end of the list, but it could still look rosy. The Robin Fraser revolution hasn’t stormed the barricades yet, but the Goats are feeling feisty. This week’s Nick LaBrocca acquisition could wind up making a big difference in the midfield.
Next Match: Saturday vs. Kansas City (10:30 pm, Direct Kick)
All the preseason losses have the Red Patch Boys asking how to say “work in progress” in Dutch.
Next Match: Saturday at Vancouver (6:30 pm, TSN)