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MLS Power Rankings, Preseason Edition: Real Salt Lake Only Unanimous Tier 1 Team

A record 17 editors cast votes for the inaugural SB Nation power rankings, all but one of them put the Los Angeles Galaxy in the top tier.

It might only be preseason, but the soccer editors from around SB Nation are bullish on Real Salt Lake's chances of winning the Supporters' Shield.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
It might only be preseason, but the soccer editors from around SB Nation are bullish on Real Salt Lake's chances of winning the Supporters' Shield. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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The start of the MLS season is now a little more than five weeks away (March 19 for those of you wondering), but that shouldn't stop us from giving our totally speculative opinions on how good various MLS sides are going to be before they've even settled on their rosters, let alone played a game. That's basically a long way of saying that these rankings, especially right now, are supposed to be little more than fun conversation starters.

With that caveat, we had 17 editors from around SB Nation contribute to this poll and all of them agreed Real Salt Lake belonged in the Tier 1 and just one of them left the Los Angeles Galaxy off the top spot on his ballot. Neither of those teams got appreciably better in the off-season. Real Salt Lake's biggest loss was Robbie Findley, but he was only a part-time starter anyway. The Galaxy lost Edson Buddle, a significant loss to be sure, but he is replaced by Juan Pablo Angel. If you liked these teams last year, there's really no reason to not feel good about them this year.

It might be surprising to some that so few of our voters put the Colorado Rapids in Tier 1. Just six voters put the defending MLS Cup champions in the top tier, something that is probably reflective of very few people believing they were really the best team last year. That said, a strong start would probably push Colorado into the top tier, and the Seattle Sounders are already just one top-tier vote away from breaking through. There's really little reason to believe that the next time we conduct this poll there will probably be some teams moving around.

Playing For The Shield

Real Salt Lake

100% (51 out of 51 points)

Los Angeles Galaxy

98% (50 out of 51 points)

New York Red Bulls

94% (48 out of 51 points)

FC Dallas

86% (44 out of 51 points)

The group at the top should come as little surprise, as it includes the team many believed to be the best at the end of last seson (Real Salt Lake), the defending Supporters' Shield winners (Galaxy), the team that finished atop the Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season (Red Bulls) and a team that lost just five times all year, including the playoffs (FC Dallas).

Enjoy The Playoffs

Seattle Sounders

82% (42 out of 51 points)

Colorado Rapids

78% (40 out of 51 points)

Sporting Kansas City

60% (31 out of 51 points)

San Jose Earthquakes

54% (28 out of 51 points)

Houston Dynamo

47% (24 out of 51 points)

Although 10 teams will make the playoffs this year, our group of editors could only agree on nine of them. On our 17 ballots, only four teams were not picked as a likely playoff side by any of them, but of this group only the Sounders and Rapids were unanimous picks to make the postseason.

Still Something To Prove

Philadelphia Union

41% (21 out of 51 points)

DC United

31% (16 out of 51 points)

Portland Timbers

23% (12 out of 51 points)

Chicago Fire

23% (12 out of 51 points)

Chivas USA

21% (11 out of 51 points)

Columbus Crew

19% (10 out of 51 points)

Toronto FC

19% (10 out of 51 points)

This group is inhabited almost entirely by teams who were either very bad last year or in the midst of massive rebuilding. The Crew were the only team to make last year's playoffs and they've jettisoned a huge percentage of their key contributors from last year. DC United and the Union were the only teams in this tier that received more than two Tier 2 votes.

At Least There's No Relegation

New England Revolution

5% (3 out of 51 points)

Vancouver Whitecaps

0% (0 out of 51 points)

Simply put, no one seems to have much faith in this group. As you can see, no one placed the Whitecaps above the bottom tier and just three voters put the Revolution in Tier 3.

How It Works: Each of the 17 participants puts Major League Soccer's clubs into one of the four tiers. Teams in the top tier get three points. Next tier, two points, then one, then zero. Voters can put as many teams into each tier as they see fit. Though the vote total orders the teams, the clubs are intended to be grouped, not sorted. Although some of the names may indicate otherwise, the point of this is to assess current form and our voters are instructed to place teams in tiers based how those teams will fair in coming weeks.

Who participated: Richard Farley (SB Nation, soccer); Jeremiah Oshan (SB Nation, soccer); Kevin McCauly (SB Nation, soccer); Aaron Campeau (SB Nation, soccer); Ryan Rosenblatt (SB Nation, soccer); Steve Davis (Daily Soccer Fix); Ben Schneider (Once a Metro); Martin Shatzer (Black and Red United); Scott Kessler (Brotherly Game); Chris "UZ" White (Burgundy Wave); Zach Woosley (Dynamo Theory); Denzel Eslinger (RSL Soapbox); Robert Jonas (Quake, Rattle and Goal); Daniel Robertson (Big D Soccer); Dave Clark (Sounder at Heart); Andy Edwards (The Daily Wiz); Geoff Gibson (Stumptown Footy).