MLS Next Pro: Top 10 - Week 1
Time to look at our first Top 10 of the season.
Welcome to the first Top 10 of the season. Before we get started, let us discuss how these clubs were selected and what the deciding factors were for these selections in Week 1.
The first thing considered is “quality of opponent’. While it will be harder to distinguish the quality of opponents early in the season, this will be easier to explain as the season progresses as each club’s quality will become clearer. In week 1, we judged a team’s quality based on their roster build and the starting 11 they rolled out in the first match of the season.
The second thing to consider is the location of a victory, with a victory on the road being judged higher than a victory at home. It’s simply tougher to get results on the road, so 2 points on the road against a tough opponent can be judged as being equal to a win at home against a weak opponent. A loss at home can be judged harsher than a loss on the road, depending on the quality of the opponent. It’s probably too early for a top 10, so expect to disagree with many of the picks and their placement.
#10. Huntsville City FC (0-1-0, 2 points) It’s no secret that I’m very high on Huntsville, and their roster build. They traveled to Crown Legacy FC, another club whose roster build looks strong, and walked away with 2 points after winning on PKs following a 2-2 draw.
#9. San Jose Earthquakes 2 (1-0-0, 3 points) Earthquakes 2 fielded one of the youngest squads last season, and their results were erratic. It was interesting to watch San Jose play an LA Galaxy II team who fielded a far younger squad than the Earthquakes 2. Unsurprisingly, the far more veteran of the 2 teams walked away with a 3-0 win at home.
#8. Austin FC 2 (1-0-0, 3points) Austin FC 2 looks to have built a solid roster. While I can’t say I was impressed with their roster build, I can say that I was impressed with their 2-1 home victory over a solid Dynamo 2 squad.
#7. New England Revolution 2 (1-0-0, 3 points) The Revs 2 traveled to Atlanta and defeated a solid-looking Atlanta United 2 team by a 3-2 score.
#6. Chicago Fire 2 (1-0-0, 3 points) I’ve always been impressed by the talent available to Inter Miami II, so I was stunned to see them lose 3-1 at home. An impressive week 1 victory for Chicago Fire 2.
#5. Orlando City B (1-0-0, 3 points) Philadelphia Union 2 is one of the most talented squads in MLSNP and a clear title contender if they choose to take the league seriously. OCB on the other hand is a talented squad that has never played up to their talent level and tends to underperform every season. A 3-1 victory at Union 2 could signal a change in fortune for OCB.
#4. Tacoma Defiance (0-1-0, 2 points) How can I have a team who scored a draw far ahead of most of the winning teams in Week 1? It’s who they got those 2 points against, as the Defiance traveled to St. Louis City FC 2 and got a result against last season’s Western Conference finalists.
#3. Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (1-0-0, 3 points) A solid 2-1 win over the visiting Timbers 2 for a team ready to become a contender.
#2. North Texas SC (1-0-0, 3 points) It wasn’t pretty and it took an 89th-minute PK save against a 10-man LAFC 2, but NTXSC showed the resilience that made them one of last season’s top teams. That PK save was made by the FC Dallas Academy’s top Goalkeeper, Julian Eyestone, one of 3 teenagers to start for NTXSC.
#1. Columbus Crew 2 (0-1-0, 2 points) Until someone actually defeats the defending champions, they are the top team in MLSNP. 2 points on the road against NY Red Bull II is an excellent result.
Several undefeated teams failed to make the top 10. They’ll have a chance next week to prove they deserve to be included in the Top 10.
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