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Armchair Analyst: As 2018 MLS preseason begins, here's my top 10 -


LISTEN: MLS went crazy under the bright lights at the SuperDraft. The guys break down the trades, transfers and draft picks that got everyone talking as preseason camps open around North America! Subscribe so you never miss a show! Download this episode! Have something to say? Call or text the #HotTakeHotline at 401-206-0MLS.


Nothing you are about to read actually matters, but that will not stop me from having my say.


Here, with 2018 MLS preseason about to launch, are – by my reckoning – the top 10 teams in Major League Soccer:


1. Toronto FC


The king stay the king. They have a concern at right back/right wingback that might be filled with Dutch international Gregory Van Der Wiel, which would be a boss move should they pull it off. They also need to hope that Liam Fraser is up to the job of being Michael Bradley's back-up, but really... this team is deep as hell and they haven't even started touching their discretionary TAM.


Friendly reminder as well that they did the first domestic treble in league history with Sebastian Giovinco at, like, 75 percent health.


2. New York City FC

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Armchair Analyst: As 2018 MLS preseason begins, here's my top 10 - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Yangel%20Herrera%20012218.jpg

Promising young midfielder Yangel Herrera is back with NYCFC in 2018 / USA Today Sports Images


They got bigger, younger, faster and better at both right back and right center back. They kept Yangel Herrera. They added, in Jesus Medina, a third Designated Player who should give them actual DP-caliber production. Even if they sell Jack Harrison (and I think they will), this team has quality and depth everywhere.


Still, if David Villa suddenly gets old, they are in at least a little bit of trouble.


3. Atlanta United


It seems like they upgraded their backline, and it sure seems like they upgraded their attack with the addition of Ezequiel Barco. He and Darlington Nagbe should offer an off-the-dribble element that last year's Five Stripes mostly lacked, and an idea of an upgrade to that already devastating offense is goosebump-inducing. Plus they'll have the best goalkeeper in the league for an entire year.


Nonetheless I reserve my right to be worried about their ability to win the ball in central midfield.


4. Seattle Sounders

Armchair Analyst: As 2018 MLS preseason begins, here's my top 10 - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Torres%20Dempsey%20012218.jpg

Can Roman Torres, left, and Clint Dempsey keep up their level of production for the Sounders in 2018? / USA Today Sports Images


It's been pretty quiet this offseason in Seattle. Seems like a lot is riding on Clint Dempsey, Chad Marshall and Román Torres fighting off Father Time for another year, and for Nicolas Lodeiro reclaiming his MVP-caliber form from the second half of 2016. There is also a close-to-desperate need for Jordan Morris to be as goal-dangerous and clinical as he was during his rookie season.


I expect them to sign a young, high-upside CB and a another DP attacker (probably a center forward). Even if those guys don't arrive before mid-season, it's hard to argue Seattle should be lower than this.


5. Portland Timbers


It looks like the defense got better – and definitely got younger, which was essential – with the addition of Julio Cascante. And the attack, which was already excellent, should improve with the return of Fanendo Adi, with a year of familiarity for Sebastian Blanco, and with the arrival of Andy Polo. This isn't a rebuild job of Gio Savarese, it's a question of fine-tuning.


The one area where that may be a concern is central midfield. Diego Chara is about to turn 32 and is coming off an injury, while David Guzman would not be the first player ever to suffer from World Cup-itis. They need starting-caliber depth at both spots.


6. Real Salt Lake

Armchair Analyst: As 2018 MLS preseason begins, here's my top 10 - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Justen%20Glad%20012218.jpg

Justen Glad may have proven himself Real Salt Lake's most valuable player in 2017 / USA Today Sports Images


I thought they were the West's best team after Justen Glad got healthy, but when your form is so reliant upon one player that's kind of a red flag. They've addressed that by adding meaningful depth all over the backline, and hit their biggest need by picking up Spanish No. 9 Alfredo Ortuño. Truth is, sixth might be too low for RSL.


That said, Kyle Beckerman's about to be 36 and Nick Rimando's about to be 39 and neither's being pushed for their jobs. If either/both slip, what's the answer? 


7. LA Galaxy


Sigi Schmid has taken care of all the family business this offseason. He rebuilt almost the entire defense, adding a Norwegian international at left-center back, a Venezuelan international at right back, a fringe US international at goalkeeper, a fringe US international at d-mid, and the No. 2 SuperDraft pick at right center back. All those guys are in or are just entering their prime. And then he capped it off by trading for center forward Ola Kamara, who's scored 34 goals in 4800 minutes over the last two seasons.


They have quality everywhere, and depth everywhere but left back. Plus I expect one more big move as they dip into their discretionary TAM.


My biggest concern is that so much of the creative burden rests on the enigmatic shoulders of Gio Dos Santos. When he's locked in, he's electric. When he's not, he's... whatever that was last year.


8. New York Red Bulls

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Armchair Analyst: As 2018 MLS preseason begins, here's my top 10 - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Felipe%20Adams.jpg?CSSP46_KY8TaWcBS9eTAhSyd7u6p.P3a

Felipe, left, and Tyler Adams will be looked to for increased leadership in 2018 with Sacha Kljestan's departure / USA Today Sports Images


Consider this a vote of confidence in Jesse Marsch, who's been able to tinker with and rearrange his team to good effect over the past three seasons. They've gotten younger and faster everywhere, and if they add Kaku Gamarra (they will), they'll have ably filled the creative gap left by the Sacha Kljestan trade. It feels like this is the year that they're finally able to go to the 4-2-2-2 high press that's been at the heart of RB Leipzig's success.


What happens if Bradley Wright-Phillips gets old or if Marsch can't coax consistency out of Carlos Rivas? Fair questions. Everywhere else on the field, though, New York have answers.


9. Sporting KC


This may end up being way too low for Sporting KC, who return the league's best defense, have the reigning Goalkeeper of the Year in his prime, and who have wing depth that impresses me (Khiry Shelton for Breakout Player of the Year, folks). They should be more dynamic and dangerous than they were last year in the final third, even if they don't add the goalscoring No. 9 that Peter Vermes has talked about since the day the season ended.


But in order to jump up a bit here, they need to get that No. 9. And they also need DP Yohan Croizet – whose resume really isn't that impressive – to be a better-than-adequate playmaking replacement for Benny Feilhaber. Given SKC's hit-and-miss history with DPs it's hard to bet too big on that.


10. Chicago Fire


They could end up with the best rookie class in league history if Jon Bakero (potential starter at 2nd forward), Grant Lillard (potential starter at LCB) and Mo Adams (top sub at d-mid) are as good as I think they are. Plug them into the veteran-heavy group that got 55 points last year... this team has a lot of potential, as well as more youth, depth and athleticism than last year's group. They also have a ton of TAM and GAM, an open DP slot and a bunch of cap space.


What they don't have is certainty. They tanked when David Accam stopped scoring, it's not certain that Bakero or Lillard can translate up to the MLS level, and how many minutes does Bastian Schweinsteiger have in his legs?


Honorable mentions: Houston, San Jose, Columbus.

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