Okay, things like alphabetical order and city population were cute for a while, but with this season looking as if it will be intense, I think it might be time to track teams' fortunes a little more closely. A single week's result could mean the difference between first and fourth, or worse. And it's getting kind of silly to use totally irrelevant criteria for this kind of thing. So, I will use no criteria, and pick team names randomly out of a cup.
1. New York. Sometimes, missing an indispensable player can bring the rest of the team into focus. And I can see this team taking off. And of course, there's Jozy Altidore. If they can get some business done visiting Toronto and the Galaxy, look out.
2. Los Angeles. They have the best player in the league right now - be sure to enjoy Jozy and Landon while they're still here. Franchino, of all people, solved their midfield problems. There's not a defense in the league that can stop them, and oh by the way Ruiz is coming back.
3. New England. Speaking of teams that are going to take off when players come back. Oh, and they're already getting points on the road. Still missing too many players to justify ranking them in the very top spots, though.
4. Kansas City. Last week? Misprint. Big showdown in Columbus, and I think the Crew might be in for a surprise. I hesitate before betting against Lopez, Conrad and Onalfo.
5. Chivas USA. Another team that goes on the road after a disappointing loss to a division rival. Brad Guzan has been getting roasted this week, but if adversity was going to keep him down? He'd have been out of the league three years ago.
6. Real Salt Lake. I'm taking a chance on these guys. They always play the Galaxy tough in Utah, and they've been just fine up in the mountain air anyway. Also, I have to admit I'm hoping this team can recover from the serious setbacks of the first three years - they won't be in purgatory forever.
7. Toronto. Thursday night's game is going to be an absolute peach. Amado Guevara against the Red Bulls? Why would you miss this game?
8. FC Dallas. Bad news is, they're on the road. Good news is, San Jose's next. I think they can get their act together - I have a feeling Dallas was looking harder at New England's injured list than at Khano Smith, and unfortunately for the Quakes, they will take that lesson to heart.
9. Colorado. Like last year, started off with the big win, got overconfident, then hit the rails. I still think coaching is the issue here.
10. DC United. Yeah, I know, but recently DC United has stunk up the mountain air. Might be overconfident, as well. Besides, you know Christian Gomez will be psyched for this one.
11. San Jose. Can't catch a break. On the other hand, team is working hard, and eventually the breaks will go the other way.
12. Columbus. I guess it's too early to get excited about this team. Glad people are showing up to the Stadium, though.
13. Chicago. Remember last week, when Salt Lake went into the stadium of the team they beat the crap out of earlier? I think the Revolution have been waiting for this Saturday. Five days later, it's DC...who also have a score to settle. They may as well call them the Chicago Earth, considering how quickly they'll fall to it.
14. Houston. Hey, win a game, and people may rank you above someone. Okay, SWEAR TO GOD, the Dynamo were the last name in the pencil cup. What, you think I'm going to rig this, but still make up some song and dance about the Crew in 12th, the Fire in 13th, and New York on TOP? Give me a LITTLE credit.