Sounders FC

MLS: Ranking the teams

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION: Sixteen of the 18 players who suited up for MLS Cup return for another go.

2. TORONTO FC: Reds’ ninth season seems to be the one where they finally break into the playoffs — at least.

3. COLUMBUS CREW: Ended last season as one of hottest clubs in MLS, and arrow still pointing up.

4. D.C. UNITED: Eddie Johnson has health concerns, but key pieces from last season’s resurrection return.

5. ORLANDO CITY SC: Purple passion in the stands, DP Kaka on the pitch and quality in goal.

6. NEW YORK CITY FC: Parts of the rollout have been bumpy, but there’s ambition and Jason Kreis to drive it.

7. NEW YORK RED BULLS: Era ended with departures of Thierry Henry, Jamison Olave, Tim Cahill and Mike Petke.

8. CHICAGO FIRE: Reworked a roster than wasn’t working, but no guarantee this one works better.

9. PHILADELPHIA UNION: 2014 was a disappointment, and there’s no clear sign things have turned around.

10. MONTREAL IMPACT: Like Philadelphia — but more so — a team that couldn’t build on early expansion promise.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. LOS ANGELES GALAXY: Landon Donovan out, Steven Gerrard in; Galaxy remains the team to beat.

2. FC DALLAS: Plenty of firepower, quality coaching and now Dan Kennedy in goal.

3. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC: Supporters’ Shield was nice but veteran roster could be handled with eye to postseason.

4. REAL SALT LAKE: More familiar faces move on, but this club has knack for reloading rapidly.

5. PORTLAND TIMBERS: Trying to climb again after failing to build on breakthrough of 2013.

6. SPORTING KANSAS CITY: No obvious magic pill, but SKC passed the eye test in Desert Diamond Cup.

7. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS: Solid defense a nice place to start, but will goals come consistently enough?

8. HOUSTON DYNAMO: Still seems in transition after rare playoff miss of 2014.

9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: ’Quakes lost their Goonie identity — and 16 games — in 2014.

10. COLORADO RAPIDS: Young and promising in 2013 somehow became young and utterly lost in 2014.

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