Power Ranking MLS Things - The Offseason Edition

Power rankings generally take current performance into account and then allow a writer to say whatever they want without much reasoning beyond whatever they feel like. As a jaded and often disinterested MLS writer, I enjoy having this ability. However, I did not want to just write your regular run of the mill “Power Ranking the Teams” content. Nope, I want to power rank anything and everything that has to do with MLS and I’ll do it in whatever order I choose based on a set of criteria known only to myself. This will become a weekly thing, but I decided to go ahead and do one for the entire offseason. Here are the top 5 things I love, hate, or want to talk about in a very particular order that doesn’t really matter.

5. Sporting KC’s Marketing Campaign Is Absurdist Word Salad

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Look at this. Just look at it. What happened here? “We. Together.” You ever have a friend that just got into cooking and instead of learning how to do basic stuff like sautee some onions or evenly cook chicken, they go straight for the Top Chef stuff and offer you some bizarre deconstruction of a cheese puff? That’s kind of what this marketing campaign looks like to me. It has all of the right parts of a coherent message, but then somebody said what if we scrambled them all up so that it makes no sense whatsoever? This is such a bad faith effort at the English language that it borders on satire. Imagine if everybody wrote their copy like this. The Sweden. We. Ikea. Products. Home. Our Home. Our Products. Bookshelf.

Sporting Kansas City’s rebrand was one of the most successful and appealing in MLS history. They clearly had something going in the right direction. I’m not sure who decided to surprise everybody by throwing on the emergency brake but now we’ve got this. For selling. For tickets. We. Advertise. For season. For seating. We buy now.

4. Video Assisted Replay

Are we really going to start this up midway through the season? It seems like such a strange time to make a rule change that fundamentally changes the way the sport is watched and officiated. I enjoyed the chaos that it caused during the preseason trials and especially the vitriol it brought in fans who thought their player had got away with something only to be dragged out of that fantasy due to the power of modern technology. I think we should do it, considering the main argument against it are A) That it will ruin the sport (it won’t) B) That people enjoy the human drama that comes from missed calls and controversial decisions (we don’t) and C) It takes too long (which basically comes down to the fact that refs just aren’t particularly good at using it yet). We already have people go over videotape and retroactively hand out punishments after thematch is over, why not take a minute and get it right so we don’t have to go back and wonder what might have been if David Villa had gotten that red card during the course of play.

It’s not going to stop fans from bickering or blaming everything but their horrible front offices, coaches, and players for losses but it should cut down on “controversial call screaming like a pro wrestler video segments” that appear on a website that shall not be named. That’s a win folks. That’s 3 points for all of us.

3. Let’s All Take a Minute to Remark On How Bad Minnesota United is Going To Be

Look, Major League Soccer can be hard on expansion sides. Very few of them manage to succeed during their inaugural season and Minnesota hasn’t gone the route of many other expansion teams and managed to sign a big name DP. So, ok. The roster. Yeah ok, it’s a little bit lackluster looking in the starpower department and yeah, sure Adrian Heath didn’t have exactly the best go of it in Orlando and ok we were all watching Toronto FC just bulldoze them off the park but come on people that was just preseason andthey got draws in the rest of their matches. So, ok, these guys probably aren’t going to playoffs, but let’s not relegate them to the cellar just yet. Ok, they’re probably going to finish last in the West but let’s just be a little nicer about it. They aren’t Chivas USA. Not yet.

2. Everybody’s Preseason Predictions are Awful

I don’t care how smart you are or whether or not it says “soccer expert” on your business card, Major League Soccer is a confounding league to try and make predictions on a week to week basis, much less roadmapping an entire season.

There are some teams you know are going to be towards the top-ish and some teams you’re pretty sure are going to be around the bottom, but preseason prediction posts have almost zero basis in reality and are merely instruments that play you by forcing you to click on something. That very much includes, (almost especially) the ones on this very site which I am a part of. Don’t listen to me. I have no idea what’s going to happen.

Even in the most orderly of MLS seasons, prognostication is an exercise in futility, but throwing in a bunch of new DPs, a couple of expansion teams, some potential rule changes midseason and yet another injection of TAM, and it’s like trying to pick the Oscar Winners based on their soundtracks (note in this particular example Hell or High Water would have won all of the Oscars and that would have been just fine by me). I’ve read preseason picks from MLS media luminaries taking a punt at MLS cup winners that are boring (TFC, LAG), hopeful and speculative (Chicago), and downright absurd (Atlanta, Vancouver). Somebody’s going to be right I suppose. I’m sure it won’t be me.

1. Let’s All Chuckle at Atlanta Supporters Who Really Need to Slow Their Roll

We get it. Ya’ll rich. Look at all of these South Americans! Kenwyne Jones! Remember him? He’s the guy that played for STOKE CITY. Miguel Almiron? I hear that guy was scouted by ARSENAL. ATLANTA IS BETTER THAN ARSENAL. Josef Martinez scored 4 goals in preseason? BETTER THAN GIOVINCO.  Get a couple of internationals a green card? LOOK AT THIS FRONT OFFICE WIZARDRY. 15 people drive three hours to watch an exhibition match? BEST FANS IN MLS. Oh, and don’t get me started on that sword table. SWORD TABLE.

Look, you’re excited. That’s understandable. Having an MLS team is a lot of fun, and your team is an extremely exciting side. And, really, what else are you going to do? It’s not that much fun to root for your team to do better than expectations and make sixth place. At least not before a ball has been kicked. Right now you’re in that beautiful headspace where you don’t know. You might not ever lose a match. You’re thinking that all of these new players are going to stay with Atlanta forever and grow and bond until you’re practically too good for MLS. You sweet children of summer. Major League Soccer can and will break that optimistic spirit into pieces.  Wait til some crazy suspensions, freak injuries, horrible officiating, and the realities of travel set in. Check in with me in July and let’s see where that dream is at.

You’ve got a lot of interested people and I can’t wait to experience the Atlanta atmosphere first hand. This will be a very strong team and they’ll do very well for an expansion side. The list of expansion sides that have made it to the playoffs in their first year is a very short one. I saw an article entitled “Is Atlanta FC the best side in MLS history?” We’ll see I suppose, but why don’t we play a few a matches first ok?