1. Nashville SC - Nashville has the best center back in the league in Zimmerman and the 2nd best playmaker in Mukhtar. As of now, there are gaps in the Nashville lineup… McCarty is getting older, Zimmerman’s cohorts in the back 3 could be stronger (looking at you, Miller), and Sapong is a good not great CF. But Nashville has $1M to work with from selling Johnston to Montreal, saved another $1M (and a DP spot) by letting go of Cadiz, and has DP Ake Loba waiting in the wings to fill in at CF. My bet is they splash on a DP at RB and sign a solid CDM to slowly slide in for McCarty – spending this money wisely is easier with a solid core already established. They have their gaps but come February they will have filled them.

  2. New England Revolution - The Revs return pretty much everyone minus Buchannon. I think we can expect to see pretty much what we saw last season – Gil running the show with goals raining down from Bou and Buksa – but with a slightly better defense now that Kessler + Farrell have a mentor in Gonzalez. With Buchannon gone some sting will be taken out of the offense as he did single-handedly win some games for them last year. Don’t sleep on MLS vet Ema Boateng to fill in for Buchannon where needed. The Revs will dominate the East again.

  3. Vancouver Whitecaps - This is a surprise pick, but the Whitecaps were on fire down the stretch of last season, basically since Vanni Sartini became the head coach. I do not think this was a fluke. Aside from the fact that I love Sartini as a person, I think that he has done a great job with the team and it seems like they are genuinely happy under him. Brian White + Ryan Gauld will be one of the best CM/CF pairings in the league, and White will play for the national team by season’s end.

  4. Seattle Sounders - This team is loaded with talent and a perennial contender. Yeimar/Roldan/Morris is one of the strongest cores in the league. This team can suffer from too much of a good thing… it’s not always the case that their talent works well together. See their dismal exit from the playoffs last year. However, they will simply overpower most teams.

  5. Sporting KC - Another perennial contender who have players who know how to win games in the MLS. Beric will be reborn after leaving the wreck that is the Chicago Fire and him along with Jonny Russell will be a top 5 pairing in the league. They need a CB to replace Ilie but my guess is that they will get one by February.