The 2020 MLS season most upon us, with the opening day taking place on Saturday. With that in mind, here are the Power Rankings to open the 2020 campaign.
Preseason slates are over, the CONCACAF Champions League is underway, and the regular season looms. Major League Soccer is back.
The Seattle Sounders enter the year as reigning MLS Cup champions following a resounding 3-1 victory over Toronto FC in the final in November, the third time in four seasons the two teams contested the biggest game of the year. But no team has been able to win back-to-back MLS Cups since LA Galaxy managed to do so in 2013. The odds are against Seattle, but they will, of course, be up there as the favourites to win the MLS Cup for a third time in just five years.
What about at the other end of the table? Well, FC Cincinnati will be looking to improve on their debut campaign in the league, in which they only managed to gain 24 points from their 34 matches. Meanwhile, Vancouver finished at the basement of the Western Conference as they only managed to average a point per game in 2019 and will be hoping to see significant improvement.
And then there are two expansion sides. Nashville SC and Inter Miami enter 2020 with substantial hope. The two teams have gone about their business in very different ways, but where do they stand prior to their debut seasons?
With such excitement and uncertainty reigning, where does every team sit in relation to the rest of the league? Find out below as we dig into the preseason MLS Power Rankings.
26. Inter Miami CF
The two expansion sides come at the bottom of our list for the 2020 campaign purely because we have nothing to go on when it comes to on-field action. It is Inter Miami that rank in 26th ahead of the season due to the fact that they have no out-and-out stars among the 20-odd players they have brought in for their inaugural term.
The likes of Luis Robles, A.J. DeLaGarza, Lee Nguyen and Alvas Powell all bring with them MLS experience, but Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranza will have to be on form from the start if the club is to have success in 2020.
25. FC Cincinnati
After a shocking first season in MLS, one where they only managed to rack up 24 points from their 34 regular-season matches, it is no surprise that FC Cincinnati are so low down on our preseason Power Rankings.
They drop behind one of the two expansion sides in the rankings because of the issues they have had over the course of the offseason. Head coach Ron Jans resigned amidst an investigation into the use of a racial slur, while forward Darren Mattocks faces felony charges for making a ‘false, fraudulent or incomplete insurance claim’.
They brought in the likes of Haris Medunjanin and star Dutchman Siem de Jong, but this could be another season in the doldrums for the Ohio-based side.
24. Nashville SC
The second expansion side is Nashville SC and they take 24th spot on the preseason Power Rankings due to the fact they have brought in a higher calibre group of players. The likes of Abu Danladi, Dominique Badji and David Accam all have goals in them, while Dax McCarty and Anibal Godoy are quality in the middle of the park.
Joe Willis will be the No.1 between the sticks, with the likes of Eric Miller, Walker Zimmerman, Dave Romney and Daniel Lovitz all in the backline in front of him. Out of the two new teams, expect Nashville to be higher up the standings come the end of the term.
23. Vancouver Whitecaps
The Vancouver Whitecaps finished in last place in the Western Conference in 2019. They will be looking to improve on that this season. Under Canadian management in Marc dos Santos, the Whitecaps have brought in Lucas Cavallini from Liga MX side Club Puebla in the hope he can bring more attacking prowess to the club.
Despite the big money addition, however, expect Vancouver to struggle this season as they go into a second season under the new system.
22. Orlando City SC
After finishing 22nd in the Supporters’ Shield standings last season, that is exactly where Orlando City end up on our MLS preseason Power Rankings ahead of Saturday’s opening day.
The Lions have the likes of Nani, Dom Dwyer and Tesho Akindele, with the former being the club’s best player in his first season in the league last time around.
However, this year, the club has gone out and brought in Oscar Pareja to take charge. That could be the biggest influence going into 2020.
21. Chicago Fire
After a poor season in 2019 in which the Chicago Fire failed to qualify for the playoffs for the second year in succession, there has been a complete reset ahead of the 2020 term.
Chicago’s management got through no fewer than 25 transactions over the course of the offseason, with some key players leaving the club.
Bastian Schweinsteiger retired, former Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic left, Dax McCarty was traded away, while Nicolas Gaitan and Aleksandar Katai had their options declined. The three DP slots have now been filled, but after an entire reboot of this extent, expect the Fire to struggle this term.