Brazil 2014: MLS World Cup Absentees Power Rankings

Expect a strong MLS flavor to USMNT this summer. (Photo: empireofsoccer.com)

Expect a strong MLS flavor to USMNT this summer. (Photo: empireofsoccer.com)

OTF’s Austin Fido takes a look at the effect of the World Cup on MLS rosters and schedules, and tries to identify the league’s likely winners and losers…

Over the last couple of months, OTF has taken a speculative look at the impact of this summer’s World Cup on MLS rosters.  The first couple of installments looked purely at the players in each squad who might get called up, and therefore might miss the handful of MLS games which overlap with FIFA’s mandatory World Cup preparation period.

To recap, per article 10 of section 29 of FIFA’s regulations:

image: fifa.com, from Regulations of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

source: fifa.com, from Regulations of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

We have been expecting Brazil-bound players to be out of MLS action from after the May 17-18 round of matches.  But Jurgen Klinsmann has apparently decided to get an early jump on USMNT’s preparations: it has been reported he will be assembling his 30-man squad for training starting May 14.

This news extends the start date of the “affected schedule” of MLS matches from 5/19 to 5/13 – and those six days include two games for some of the league’s clubs.

Most players will drift back to their respective squads by the last week of June (MLS’s World Cup hiatus runs from June 12-26).  The outcome, for the majority of teams in the league, will be five to seven games without some key players; or, for those not missing anyone, a run of matches against weakened opponents.

There is some additional speculation (folded in to the last piece on this subject) about players who could be called up for nations scheduled to provide friendly opposition to some of the squads preparing for the World Cup.

It isn’t entirely clear how MLS teams will react to requests from national teams that are not qualified for the World Cup for players to be released.  Technically, the pre-Brazil friendlies are not held on official FIFA dates, though clearly they are an important part of the build-up to the competition.

In about a month, we should have answers to the question of who exactly will be missing. May 13 is the FIFA deadline for 30-man squads to be submitted.  Most national team managers will likely ride that deadline to its limit, since the point of a preliminary squad is generally to have everybody fit and healthy and competing for their place.

Only the biggest names get to limp into a pre-tournament camp and hope to achieve fitness and form in the time allowed for preparations.

This installment of this occasional series updates the preceding speculation with a deeper look at the schedule each MLS team will be navigating during the time they will be missing players to the World Cup.

And, since the MLS season has begun, the guesswork analysis can allow some consideration of how teams have started the season, and how reliant they appear to be on the players they will missing.

Bundle all of those factors together and it is possible to create one of those beloved tools of subjectivity: a power ranking!

Teams are ranked from first (most likely to profit) to last (most likely to suffer). 

1. FC Dallas 

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

 – Current form: Good – WDWWWLWL

– Possible players lost to World Cup: 0

– Possible players lost to friendlies:

Raul Fernandez (Peru – 5/30 & 6/3), Blas Perez (Panama – 5/31 & 6/3), Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8)

– Affected schedule:

5/17 – vs. Chivas USA

5/21 – @ Los Angeles Galaxy

5/24 – @ Real Salt Lake

5/31 – vs. San Jose Earthquakes

6/7 – vs. Colorado Rapids

6/11 – @ Portland Timbers

6/28 – @ Columbus Crew

Start with a team currently playing very well: FCD has lost twice in the first eight rounds of MLS; the team has the most points (16) and the most goals (18) in the league (tied with Seattle for both – but still, joint best is still best). 

Momentum may have been slowed by the walloping Dallas endured at the hands of DC United in their most recent outing, and the pair of red cards suffered in the defeat may prolong the difficulty. But the fact is FCD can be pretty confident of losing no players to the World Cup – and winning five games out of the first eight is no small achievement.

The squad includes established internationals – Raul Fernandez, Blas Perez and Je-Vaughn Watson – but none of them play for Brazil-bound nations.

Any one of the trio named above could be called up by their respective countries for friendlies scheduled with teams that are playing in the World Cup, but head coach Oscar Pareja is (assuming no FIFA pressure is applied) under no obligation to release them.

So this is a team playing (generally) well, and unlikely to be forced to cough up any personnel for international duty.

And the stretch of games which will be impacted by the World Cup looks pretty inviting for FCD – despite four of the seven matches being on the road.

LA, RSL and San Jose will all be missing key players; the Crew will just have got most of their boys back from Brazil; and Portland is currently not looking the most intimidating of opponents.

A lot can change between now and then, but FCD should be looking forward to the exit of World Cup stars from MLS.

 2. Colorado Rapids

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

– Current Form: Good – DWLWWDL

– Possible players lost to World Cup: 

Marvin Chavez (Honduras)

– Possible players lost to friendlies: 

Deshorn Brown (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8), Gabriel Torres (Panama – 5/31 & 6/3)

– Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ Real Salt Lake

5/24 – vs. Montreal Impact

6/1 – vs. Houston Dynamo

6/4 – vs. Chicago Fire

6/7 – @ FC Dallas

6/28 – vs. Vancouver 

Coach Pablo Mastroeni has got the Rapids off to a surprisingly bright start. More surprisingly, he’s done so with sparing use of Gabriel Torres, Designated Player and established Panamanian international. He’s used Marvin Chavez, a Honduran national team regular, even less.

As such, the only player Mastroeni probably really wants to hang on to is Deshorn Brown, who might himself prefer to establish himself in a winning club side than run around for Jamaica in a series of friendlies it is expected to lose. 

Given the likely minimal impact of the World Cup on this team (will it even notice Chavez is gone? IfChavez can’t get a game for Colorado, is he going anywhere?) it won’t be worrying too much about the “affected schedule”. It should be looking forward to them.

The Rapids will welcome Montreal, Houston, Chicago and Vancouver  to Colorado, not one of whom is currently in any sort of troubling form. And the Rocky Mountain Cup visit to Salt Lake will be made a little easier if Klinsmann does indeed whisk away USMNT players on May 14.

There is a tricky trip to Dallas to negotiate, but Mastroeni will still be hoping to pick up a big bundle of points while the world is distracted by events in Brazil.

DCUnited

3. DC United

– Current form: Very Good – LLDWWDW

– Possible players lost to World Cup:

Eddie Johnson (USA)

– Possible players lost to friendlies:

Michael Seaton (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – vs. Montreal Impact

5/21 – vs. Houston Dynamo

5/24 – @ New England Revolution

5/31 – vs. Sporting Kansas City

6/7 – vs. Columbus Crew

6/11 – @ Montreal Impact

6/28 – vs. Seattle Sounders

The criteria for getting to the top of these rankings are simple: be a team playing well, unlikely to lose key players to the World Cup, and scheduled to play opponents who will not be so fortunate.

The memory of DC’s disastrous 2013 season is not so distant that even a five-game unbeaten streak can allow the team to be classed as good. Still, it is picking up points while figuring itself out – something it could not do last year. 

A couple more wins like the furious battering of league-leading FC Dallas, and DC United will start to be described not merely as better than it was, but better than most of this year’s MLS teams.

Perhaps most significantly, the one player DC is likely to lose to Brazil – Eddie Johnson – has been a first-team regular, but not someone the team is relying on too heavily. EJ has looked increasingly useful, but not irreplaceable.

And the affected schedule is inviting: Houston, KC, Columbus and Seattle will all be shipping players out to Brazil; trips to New England and Montreal do not seem too intimidating based on their initial work in 2014 (modest and shameful, respectively).

The World Cup disruption looks an opportunity for DC to knock down a succession of weakened Eastern Conference rivals, and maybe even give Seattle a scare as well.

image: pressbox.mlssoccer.com

4. Chivas USA

Current form: Terrible – WDLDLDLL

Possible players lost to World Cup: 0

Possible players lost to friendlies: 0

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ FC Dallas

5/28 – vs. Portland Timbers

5/31 – vs. Philadelphia Union

6/8 – @ LA Galaxy

6/28 – vs Real Salt Lake

If head coach Wilmer Cabrera gets any phone calls during the time when national teams are seeking out players for their squads, it’s likely just someone looking for a member of the Galaxy’s staff. There are no Goats expected to go to Brazil, or even to be on the radar of any of the nations providing pre-tournament warm-up services.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good players in the squad: Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Burling, Dan Kennedy, Oswaldo Minda – this is a solid veteran core for any MLS side. 

Add in the slowly gelling attacking trio of Leandro Barrera, Mauro Rosales and Erick Torres (plus Bofo Bautista off the bench), and the Goats should be competitive.

The team isn’t getting results right now, but neither is Portland. Chivas USA may not have Caleb Porter’s vaunted tactical acumen on the sidelines, but Cabrera is a well-regarded coach working with what looks like a group of MLS-capable players.

Looking ahead to May/June, the only serious problem Chivas may have is whether goal-a-game-Goat Torres (he’s scored in every league game this year in which his team has found the net) stays on beyond the current terms of his loan. He’s due to return to Chivas de Guadalajara in June, but apparently there’s a chance he sticks around.

If Torres stays, and the rest of the Goats can find a little form, the affected schedule is an opportunity to grab points: four home games (remember, they share a stadium with LA Galaxy); two of those against teams likely to be missing key players; the other two – Philly and Portland – in fragile form at the moment.

Chivas wants to get a jump on banishing the memory of its past: this stretch might be the best shot.

5. New England Revolution

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: OK – LLDWLWDW

Possible players lost to World Cup:

Jerry Bengtson (Honduras)

Possible players lost to friendlies:

O’Brian Woodbine (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ Philadelphia Union

5/24 – vs. DC United

5/31 @ Montreal Impact

6/7 – vs. New York Red Bulls

6/28 – vs. Philadelphia Union 

The World Cup could be a win-win for Jay Heaps and Jerry Bengtson. Without ever really convincingly putting together a consistently winning team, coach Heaps has never seemed reliably interested in bringing one of CONCACAF’s more prolific international goal scorers off his bench.

Bengtson was a big part of the reason Honduras will be playing in Brazil, but he apparently isn’t good enough for Heaps to trust with a prolonged run in the starting lineup.

A big tournament for Bengtson might finally get him out of Boston and to a team that can find a use for his talents. Similarly, Heaps could guide the Revs to a decent run in Bengtson’s absence, further making his point: he doesn’t really need the Honduran.

O’Brian Woodbine doesn’t have Bengtson’s reputation, but if Jamaica comes calling for his services, Heaps would be well advised to let him go – Woodbine isn’t doing much of anything right now.

New England currently lacks consistent form and firepower, but the five games comprising their affected schedule are an invitation to pick up points: three home matches (including what will be a comically shorthanded Red Bulls squad) and trips to Philadelphia and Montreal, two of the less impressive clubs in MLS at the moment. 

image: pressbox.mlssoccer.com

6. Chicago Fire

Current form: Poor – LDDDDDD

Players possibly lost to World Cup: 0

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Lovel Palmer (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8)

Affected schedule:

5/18 – vs. Sporting Kansas City

5/24 – @ Columbus Crew

6/1 – vs. LA Galaxy

6/4 – @ Colorado Rapids

6/7 – vs. Seattle Sounders

There isn’t a team in the league rooting for USMNT to succeed in Brazil more than the Fire.

Chicago’s post-break schedule brings two opponents – Toronto and KC – who will have guys in Klinsi’s World Cup squad. If USMNT makes it to the second round, the Fire faces TFC without Michael Bradley. If the Nats get to the quarterfinals, KC will be missing Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. (And Klinsi’s rumored 5/14 start date for USMNT’s training camp could give Frank Yallop’s men an early look at KC’s starless squad on 5/18.)

As for the matches affected by the group stage, every one of Chicago’s opponents over the four games in question will likely have players out for the World Cup. Chicago almost certainly will not. 

Colorado probably won’t miss Marvin Chavez, and the Fire’s current form is not intimidating. But the portion of the MLS schedule affected by the World Cup is an opportunity for Frank Yallop’s side to pick up the points dropped in the early part of the season.

7. Seattle Sounders

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Very Good – WLWLDWWW

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Clint Dempsey & Brad Evans (USA)

Players possibly lost to friendlies: 0

Affected schedule:

5/17 – vs. San Jose Earthquakes

5/24 – @ Vancouver Whitecaps

5/31 – vs. Real Salt Lake

6/7 – @ Chicago Fire

6/28 – @ DC United

The Sounders have one of the tougher schedules affected by the absence of World Cup players: three road games, of which two will involve a trek to the East, plus a couple of Western Conference rivals to be tackled in Seattle.

But San Jose and Salt Lake will have their own problems regarding World Cup absentees, and Seattle is currently looking like the best team in the league. The Sounders just came back from a three game road trip undefeated, and battered Colorado to suggest their prior struggles at home were behind them.

All the talk is currently of Clint Dempsey’s blistering goal scoring pace (eight goals so far this season), but what is more impressive is the recent success looks like a team effort: Seattle knows how to move the ball forward quickly and get its runners into scoring position. 

Suddenly, the glut of forwards on the roster (there are at least 10 Sounders who can play up front) looks like good sense: at least one of them should be able to cover for Dempsey’s absence. 

8. Sporting Kansas City

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Good – LDWWDWL

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Matt Besler & Graham Zusi (USA)

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Benny Feilhaber (USA)

Affected schedule:

5/14 – vs. Philadelphia Union

5/18 – @ Chicago Fire

5/23 – vs. Toronto FC

5/27 – vs. RBNY

5/31 – @ DC United

6/6 – @ Houston Dynamo

6/27 – @ Portland Timbers 

Besler and Zusi can be as confident of going to Brazil with USMNT as anyone in the player pool. Feilhaber might get penciled into the 30-man squad, and then it will be up to him to make his case. KC knows the squad will give up some key players to Brazil.

But the team has also suffered the absence of its defensive and offensive leaders before, and survived. Injury to Ike Opara has robbed Peter Vermes of his preferred replacement for Besler, but he will be encouraged by the fact that the team is getting results right now and everyone in the second tier of the squad knows there are starting roles to be won in May and June.

The recent loss to New England was on the road after losing Aurelien Collin to the sort of reckless challenge for which he usually goes unpunished – it can be regarded as an exception.

The affected schedule isn’t great – three road games in a row is a test at any time in MLS. As the defending MLS Cup champs, however, KC has a right to some confidence in its ability to find a way past any particular opponent. 

Furthermore, of the seven games in question, the most troubling one – the only one against an opponent that looks neither weak nor weakened – is against DC United. Last year’s best against last year’s worst? Peter Vermes will no doubt be very happy with that match-up.

9. Real Salt Lake

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current Form: Excellent – WDDWDDWD

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Kyle Beckerman (USA), Nick Rimando (USA), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica)

Players possibly lost to friendlies: 0

Affected schedule:

5/17 – vs. Colorado Rapids

5/24 – vs. FC Dallas

5/31 – @ Seattle Sounders

6/4 – @ Columbus Crew

6/7 – vs. Portland Timbers

6/28 – @ Chivas USA

RSL may not be missing any players when the last week of June rolls around. Even if the World Cup absentees still aren’t returned, it may not matter – RSL is playing very well at the moment, and this is despite already having suffered Nick Rimando’s absence for a couple of games this year.

Yes, there have been some matches that should have been lost, or won – where a little luck or carelessness has intervened. But no team has managed to beat RSL just yet, and such resilience counters concerns over how Salt Lake will fare without the core of its starting lineup.

10. New York Red Bulls

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: OK – LDDDDLWWD

Players possibly lost to World Cup: 

Tim Cahill (Australia), Roy Miller (Costa Rica)

Players possibly lost to friendlies: 0

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ Toronto FC

5/24 – vs. Portland Timbers

5/27 – @ Sporting Kansas City

6/7 – @ New England Revolution

6/27 – vs. Toronto FC 

RBNY will be missing Cahill and Miller (World Cup duties) plus Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave (career protection) for the trip to New England. So the team is basically looking at four games from which it might pick up points during the affected schedule. 

Still, the team is not currently over-reliant on Cahill, and Miller is important but not irreplaceable. If Portland’s indifferent form persists, and both KC and TFC are missing the players we expect to be missing, those games could yield sufficient success to offset the expected futility of yet another under-powered appearance on the Foxborough carpet.

11. Los Angeles Galaxy

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Good – LDWWD

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Landon Donovan & Omar Gonzalez (USA)

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Robbie Keane (Ireland – 5/25, 5/31, 6/6 & 6/10), Jaime Penedo (5/31 & 6/3)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ Houston Dynamo

5/21 – vs. FC Dallas

5/25 – vs. Philadelphia Union

6/1 – @ Chicago Fire

6/8 – vs. Chivas USA

6/28 – @ San Jose Earthquakes 

This might be ranking the Galaxy too low – after all, Landon Donovan’s form for the club has been muted and Omar Gonzalez is the only man who will be missing from an experienced back line. Does LA really need to worry about coping without them?

No. There is no great to need to worry, but it is notable that LA hasn’t yet managed to win away from home this season. Five games is a very small sample, and the club’s form will pick up.

But while Donovan and Gonzalez are in Brazil, the Galaxy will welcome three opponents unlikely to be missing any players – key or otherwise. Likewise, the trip to Chicago will require facing down a team suffering no World Cup disruption.

Bruce Arena made some canny acquisitions in the off-season – Baggio Husidic, Stefan Ishizaki, and Rob Friend are all seasoned players without great expectation of international appearances this summer. The team should do fine, but it may struggle to reach the three-wins-out-of-six level one might predict were LA at full strength for these fixtures.

image: mlssoccer.com

12. Columbus Crew

Current form: OK – WWWLDDD

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica), Michael Parkhurst (USA)

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Jairo Arrieta & Waylon Francis (Costa Rica), Kevan George (Trinidad & Tobago – 6/4 & 6/8)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ Portland Timbers

5/24 – vs. Chicago Fire

5/31 – @ Toronto FC

6/4 – vs. Real Salt Lake

6/7 – @ DC United

6/28 – vs. FC Dallas

The Crew has started 2014 as one of the better teams in MLS. The one downside of the impressive early season form is it maximizes the chance of the team being disrupted for the World Cup.

Three of the club’s preferred four starting defenders could be in Brazil, and it is difficult to be optimistic about the team’s chances with a remodeled back line. 

It is also hard to say whether this side’s fortunes are better described by its having won its first three matches of the season, or having picked up just three points from its last four games. 

13. Vancouver Whitecaps

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: OK – WDDWLLDD

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Steven Beitashour (Iran)

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Johnny Leveron (Honduras), Darren Mattocks (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8), Carlyle Mitchell (Trinidad & Tobago – 6/4 & 6/8)

Affected schedule:

5/14 – vs. Toronto FC (Canadian Championship)

5/24 – vs. Seattle Sounders

6/1 – @ Portland Timbers

6/7 – @ Philadelphia Union

6/25 – vs. Montreal Impact

6/28 – @ Colorado Rapids

Vancouver will miss Steven Beitashour, but not as much as Toronto and Seattle will miss their World Cup stars. Trips to Portland, Philadelphia and Colorado won’t be easy, but perhaps only the Rapids are truly intimidating opponents at the moment. And every team in MLS is looking forward to playing Montreal right now.

The Whitecaps will have a bigger problem if their squad gets picked apart by players representing national teams involved in pre-World Cup friendlies, or if a fringe player like Johnny Leveron gets a surprise call up to his country’s squad.

For now, however, we assume the Caps will lose just one man to Brazil, and might even be the team most likely to outperform their ranking on this list.

14. San Jose Earthquakes

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Poor – DLLDDW

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Victor Bernardez (Honduras), Clarence Goodson (USA)

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Cordell Cato (Trinidad & Tobago – 6/4 & 6/8), Chris Wondolowski (USA)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ Seattle Sounders

5/25 – vs. Houston Dynamo

5/31 – @ FC Dallas

6/7 – @ Toronto FC

6/28 – vs. LA Galaxy 

The Quakes will almost certainly lose their first-choice center backs, Bernardez and Goodson, to Brazil; Chris Wondolowski may also get a ticket to the dance if he continues to be just about the only man who can score a goal for USMNT.

For a team with just one win to its name in the league to date – and that against an equally subdued Chivas USA – the loss of three key players looks ominous. Perhaps the best thing to be said for San Jose’s chances while the World Cup is affecting MLS is that the Quakes at least get to host Houston, and visit Toronto before Michael Bradley gets back.

15. Montreal Impact

image: en.wikipedia.org

image: en.wikipedia.org

Current form: Poor – LLLDDDLW

Players possibly lost to World Cup: 0

Players possibly lost to friendlies: 0

Affected schedule:

5/17 – @ DC United

5/24 – @ Colorado Rapids

5/31 – vs. New England Revolution

6/11 – vs. DC United

6/25 – @ Vancouver Whitecaps

6/29 – vs. Houston Dynamo

Every team in the league would happily play Montreal at the moment – even Philadelphia, the only team to have lost to the Impact so far this year. 

Still, the Impact has finally managed to win a game, and the club will hope it can gather some positive momentum in the last few weeks before MLS starts to donate players to the World Cup. 

Montreal need not fear losing anyone to Brazil, but it will need to present some greater evidence than a lucky win over Philly before it can be credited with any ability to capitalize on the apparent benefits of an undisturbed roster and a relatively benign affected schedule.

16. Philadelphia Union

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Poor – DWLDDDLDL

Players possibly lost to World Cup: 0

Players possibly lost to friendlies: 

Andre Blake (Jamaica – , Maurice Edu (USA)

Affected schedule:

5/14 – @ Sporting Kansas City

5/17 – vs. New England Revolution

5/25 – @ LA Galaxy

5/31 – @ Chivas USA

6/7 – vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

6/28 – @ New England Revolution

If the Union lose Maurice Edu to Klinsi’s World Cup training camp, it won’t much matter if he gets selected to the USMNT’s 23-man squad for Brazil – he’ll probably be gone for most of May anyway.

Fortunately, it seems as though Edu’s return to regular football may have come a little too late for him to force his way into Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans for this summer. But that may be the only reason to be cheerful about the Union’s prospects during the World Cup.

Philly is facing a brutal schedule – four out of six games on the road – while currently in dire form: a 1-0 win over the Revs in the second week of the season is the only positive result the team has got to date.

If the Union can’t turn things around MLS is affected by the World Cup, it is hard to be optimistic about its chances of reversing its fortunes during the affected schedule. 

17. Portland Timbers

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Terrible – DDLLDDLD

Players possibly lost to World Cup: 0

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Alvas Powell & Donovan Ricketts (Jamaica – 5/26, 5/30 & 6/8)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – vs. Columbus Crew

5/24 – @ New York Red Bulls

5/28 – @ Chivas USA

6/1 – vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

6/7 – @ Real Salt Lake

6/11 – vs. FC Dallas

6/27 – vs. Sporting Kansas City

If the Timbers were playing well, they’d be up near the top of these rankings: their affected schedule isn’t bad at all, and they are unlikely to be missing players.

But the team has yet to win this season. So while one wants to say Portland should do pretty well during the affected schedule, the only available evidence to date suggests this may not be the case.

18. Toronto FC

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Poor – WWLWLL

Players possibly lost to World Cup:

Michael Bradley (USA), Julio Cesar (Brazil)

Players possibly lost to friendlies:

Jermain Defoe (England – 5/30)

Affected schedule:

5/14 – @ Vancouver Whitecaps (Canadian Championship)

5/17 – vs. New York Red Bulls

5/23 – @ Sporting Kansas City

5/31 – vs. Columbus Crew

6/7 – vs. San Jose Earthquakes

6/27 – @ New York Red Bulls

TFC is near the foot of this table because it has lost three of its last four games and appears to have a problem winning without Jermain Defoe.

If the Englishman gets called up by his country, even just for the pre-Brazil training camp, it could be a bloody big deal for a team already certain to lose its starting ‘keeper and midfield leader, and hoping to secure CONCACAF Champions League qualification (via the Canadian Championship) during May.

19. Houston Dynamo

image: mlssoccer.com

image: mlssoccer.com

Current form: Terrible – WWLLLDLD

Players possibly lost to World Cup: 

Oscar Boniek Garcia (Honduras)

Players possibly lost to friendlies: 

Brad Davis (USA)

Affected schedule:

5/17 – vs. LA Galaxy

5/21 – @ DC United

5/25 – @ San Jose Earthquakes

6/1 – @ Colorado Rapids

6/6 – vs. Sporting Kansas City

6/29 – @ Montreal Impact

After winning its first two games of the season, the Dynamo’s form has fallen off a cliff.

Winless in six matches, likely to lose its two best players for at least the back end of May (Brad Davis could be back once the 30-man squads are narrowed down to 23 for Brazil), and facing four away matches during the affected schedule – Houston’s season may effectively be reduced to a sprint for the playoffs starting in July.

Austin Fido is OTF’s USMNT and CONCACAF editor. Follow him @canetop.

2 thoughts on “Brazil 2014: MLS World Cup Absentees Power Rankings

  1. Toronto 18th? ummm…

    “Problems winning without Defoe” more like problems winning when literally half their team is injured – Defoe, Bradley, De Rosario, Dike, Rey, Osorio, Henry, Morgan, Hall, not to mention the hardest schedule in MLS by far in the first 6 matches, and yet they still won 3 of them.

  2. Fair point – Toronto hasn’t really been Toronto recently. And that was indeed a rough run of games. It will be interesting to see what sort of form TFC is in by May 14th,

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