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NASR 2013 MLS Preseason Poll: KC, Seattle top choices; Wondolowski leads list of Most Important Players

The North American Soccer Reporters unveiled Friday the NASR 2013 Major League Soccer Preseason Poll, projecting the order of finish for the teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences during the 2013 season. As a part of the NASR poll, each of the voters also selected for each team a Most Important Player – the player that will have the greatest impact on the field or be the club’s biggest loss if unavailable to play (international call-ups, injury, suspension, transfer etc).

MLS-Preseason-Poll-2013Finishing atop their respective conferences are the reigning Sporting Kansas City and Seattle Sounders, the two US Open Cup finalists from a year ago. Sporting also was at the top of first-ever edition of the poll a year ago and went on to win the Eastern Conference. Last year the Los Angeles Galaxy were the top club with a sweep of first-place votes, but finished fourth in the Western Conference.

 ** View 2012 Preseason Poll **

Voting for the top sides in each conference this year was more open than a year ago with four teams receiving first-place votes in the Eastern Conference compared to two and the west expanding from just one to three. The top four teams by points in the poll for the Eastern Conference were Sporting KC (9 first-place votes), Houston Dynamo (4), DC United (2) and New York Red Bulls (3). The Western Conference list was topped by Seattle (9), Los Angeles (6) and the San Jose Earthquakes (3).

The bottom echelon of each conference was rather distinct with the Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution and Toronto FC receiving the fewest points in the Eastern Conference and the Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA bringing up the rear in the Western Conference.

Leading the way among the Most Important Players was, to no surprise, the Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes, the reigning MLS MVP.  The striker had 16 votes. Kansas City’s Graham Zusi, one of the top two a year ago, was second with 14 votes and Chivas USA netminder Dan Kennedy was third with 12. Foreign stars Thierry Henry (New York), Federico Higuain (Columbus Crew) and Robbie Keane (LA) all received 11 votes with David Ferreira (FC Dallas) rounding out the players who were in double digits at 10.

Last year, the eventual three MLS MVP Finalists were among the top six choices in the NASR poll.

The most indecision regarding the most critical player for a team this year came is with the Colorado Rapids who had 11 different players listed with Martin Rivero leading with four votes. The other clubs even close to that total were the bottom four of the Eastern Conference with either seven or eight each.

Eastern Conference

Rank Points Club (1st Place Votes) Most Important Player – Votes
1 169 Sporting Kansas City (9) Graham Zusi 14, Benny Feilhaber 2, Claudio Bieler
2 146 Houston Dynamo (4) Brad Davis 7, Oscar Boniek Garcia 5, Will Bruin 4, Ricardo Clark
3 138 DC United (2) Dwayne De Rosario 9, Chris Pontius 4, Perry Kitchen 3, Nick DeLeon
4 129 New York Red Bulls (3) Thierry Henry 11, Tim Cahill 2, Jamison Olave, Ryan Meara, Fabian Espindola, Juninho
5 109 Chicago Fire Jeff Larentowicz 7, Chris Rolfe 4, Austin Berry 3, Joel Lindpere, Sherjill MacDonald, Sean Johnson
6 97 Columbus Crew Federico Higuain 11, Jairo Arrieta 3, Chad Marshall 2, Andy Gruenebaum
7 65 Montreal Impact Marco DiVaio 6, Patrice Bernier 5, Felipe Martins 2, Allessandro Nesta, Andrew Wenger, Troy Perkins, Davy Arnaud
8 61 Philadelphia Union Sebastien Le Toux 9, Jeff Parke 2, Amobi Okugo, Bakary Soumare, Keon Daniel, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan
9 51 New England Revolution Jerry Bengtson 9, Lee Nguyen 3, Matt Reis 2, Diego Fagundez 2, Kelyn Rowe
10 25 Toronto FC Luis Silva 5, Stefan Frei 4, Danny Califf 3, Danny Koevermans 2, Darren O’Dea, Gale Agbossoumonde, Rob Earnshaw

Western Conference

Rank Points Club (1st Place Votes) Most Important Player – Votes
1 161 Seattle Sounders (9) Osvaldo Alonso 6, Mauro Rosales 5, Eddie Johnson 4, Mario Martinez, Obafemi Martins, Brad Evans
2 155 Los Angeles Galaxy (6) Robbie Keane 11, Omar Gonzalez 3, Landon Donovan 2, Juninho 2
3 148 San Jose Earthquakes (3) Chris Wondolowski 16, Victor Bernardez, Marvin Chavez
4 121 Real Salt Lake Javier Morales 7, Kyle Beckerman 4, Alvaro Saborio 4, Joao Plata, Nick Rimando, Robbie Findley
5 102 Vancouver Whitecaps Jay DeMerit 6, Darren Mattocks 5, Nigel Reo-Coker 3, Young-Pyo Lee, Brad Rusin, Alain Rochat, Camilo
6 93 FC Dallas David Ferreira 10, Kenny Cooper 4, Blas Perez 2, Raul Fernandez, Fabian Castillo
7 90 Portland Timbers Diego Valeri 9, Ryan Johnson 4, Mikael Silvestre 2, Darlington Nagbe, Donovan Ricketts, Diego Chara
8 59 Colorado Rapids Martin Rivero 4, Matt Pickens 3, Edson Buddle 3, Drew Moor 2, Nick LaBrocca, Marvell Wynne, Kevin Harbottle, Andre Akpan, Pablo Mastroeni, Hendry Thomas
9 43 Chivas USA Dan Kennedy 12, Juan Agudelo 4, Oswaldo Minda, Miller Bolanos
Point Tabulation: Ten points awarded for first, nine for second, etc.

Voting Breakdown Chart

 NASR2013PredictionChart-web

NASR Members Who Voted: Gerald Barnhart (TheCup.us / INWsoccernews), Steve Clare (Prost Amerika), Marc Connelly (ESPN), Sean Donahue (NE Soccer Today), Drew Epperley (WV Hooligan), Ross Fletcher (BBC), Jonah Freedman (MLSsoccer), Dan Gaichas (Windy City Soccer), Adam Jardy (Columbus Dispatch), Robert Jonas (Center Line Soccer), Kip Kesgard (OregonLive), Darrell Lovell (MLSsoccer/ Soccer By Ives), Kyle McCarthy (Fox Soccer / Goal.com), Ted Prezelski (Tucson Sentinel), Steven Sandor (The11.ca), Phil Schoen (beIN Sport), Orrin Schwarz (Daily Herald), Jonathan Tannenwald (Philly.com)

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