Injuries and call-ups had a big impact this year. That may not be easy to quantify, but here's a first pass. If a player missed fewer than six games (20% of the season), I don't list him. Columbus 49 pts Hejduk missed 10 games, Buddle 6; Herdsman was also out for a long stretch. Not much to say here: clearly, the Crew were blessed with good health. Kansas City 49 pts Preki missed 28 games, Klein 11, Meola 9, Zavagnin 6; Simutenkov played in only 9 games, but some absences were coach's decisions. The Wizards did have four major injuries, but two of them were so early that the team was able to plan around them. From then until the All-Star break, they were very healthy and playing well. Then Klein and Meola went out, and that triggered a long offensive slump. Gansler has done a great job in keeping this team organized, but was last week's comeback mostly a letdown by San Jose? LA 43 pts Califf and Vagenas each missed 17 games (some by coach's decision?), Tyrone Marshall missed 12, Ruiz 10, Cobi 7, Albright 6; Hong also missed most of the year, and Grabavoy was hurt down the stretch. I hadn't realized quite how decimated the Galaxy were defensively; no wonder Ryan Suarez went from spare part to stalwart. Now that they're healthier -- and Ruiz is focussed -- they could be very dangerous. In particular, I thought Vagenas played an excellent home leg against the Rapids. If he can do equally well in KC, the league might get the result it's hoping for. DC 42 pts Nelsen missed 13 games Maybe Nowak is a miracle worker, or maybe the miracle is that Olsen and Stewart held up ok, and most everyone else was very healthy. That has to be considered a factor in DC's rise. So do the Solomon Islands; by knocking New Zealand out of World Cup Qualifying, they kept Ryan Nelsen from having to go globetrotting during the stretch run. MetroStars 40 pts Lisi missed 19 games, Bonseu 16, Ziadie 15, Taylor 9, Pope 8, Vaca 8, Magee 8, Guevara 6; Gilberto also injured for a long stretch, and Brenes away for the Olympics. Bradley has been getting ripped in the New York media for all of his line-up shuffling, particularly the fact that players never settled into roles. Although some of the absences above were coach's decisions, I don't remember lack of structure being a problem when his Fire teams were healthy. Colorado 39 pts Powell missed 17 games, Mastroeni 13, Peguero 12, Chung 8, Spencer 8 The Rapids had a handful of significant injuries, but it's unrealistic to expect 33-year-olds to play every week. They were fortunate that Chris Henderson did. (Ok, he missed one.) San Jose 38 pts Robinson missed 22 games, Dayak and Dunivant 14 each, De Rosario 9, Donovan 7, Agoos 6 Their backline eventually recovered from its early season devastation, right around the time that Ching, DeRo, and Donovan were getting worn down by qualifying. We should also note that unlike Yallop, Dominic Kinnear got zero productivity from his back-up attackers. Dallas 36 pts Behncke missed 13 games, Salyer 11, Gibbs 9, Pareja 6; Garlick missed 18, many due to coach's choice. This team was not hard-hit by injuries. After a fast start, they slumped on their own. With the last-place charity they'll be receiving, they really need to strengthen their central midfield. New England 33 pts Llamosa missed the whole season, J-M Moore 27 games, A. Brown 23, R. Pierce 16, Franchino 10, Kamler 8, Joseph and Twellman 7 each, Dempsey 6; Howey also injured shortly after arriving. People are complaining about how this team is still alive; I would argue exactly the opposite: New England is the poster child for big playoffs. It would've been so easy for them to pack it in. After a pre-season full of hope, they were really devastated. In spite of it all, they didn't pull a 2003 Burn, and they kept trying. They put together a run of results at the end, and now they're right where they expected to be. Chicago 33 pts Marsch 20, Razov 17, Armas 9, Pause 9, Mapp 6, Brown 6 In this case, it's not so much the number of injuries as the location. The Fire's top three holding midfielders were all out for a long stretch, as were two of their offensive focal points. Factor in the losses of Beasley and Bocanegra (and Mapp's getting hurt), and it's no surprise that they tanked. But even before they were eliminated this year, they had assembled a charge of incoming talent. Add in some high draft picks and another allocation, and they should be a favorite for 2005.