Ranking Every MLS Team on Their Attacking Talent

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 22, 2014

Ranking Every MLS Team on Their Attacking Talent

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    Which team contains the best set of attackers in Major League Soccer? 

    That is a question that can ignite a debate that could last as long as a few days based on how much each team has improved in the attacking department over the last few years. 

    Thanks to the designated player rule and a strong South American pipeline, the teams are not only getting better at each position, but they are also seeing a ton of creativity flow through their respective attacks. 

    With so little difference between the clubs at the top, it was difficult to select just one team as the best.

    Continue reading on to see which team earned the honor of best attack in MLS. 

19. New England Revolution

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    When you bring up the New England Revolution in any discussion, the first thing you mention about their team is the back four. 

    The efficient back line led by Jose Goncalves was the reason why they qualified as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season. 

    The depth chart up front is loaded with names that have plenty of promise, but they have failed to deliver results on a consistent basis in Foxborough. 

    There is some hope for the Revolution with Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe manning the midfield, but neither young star has shown us anything worthy of praise in 2014. 

18. Philadelphia Union

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    During the offseason, the Philadelphia Union assembled what was supposed to be a dangerous attacking midfield. 

    Seven weeks into the 2014 season, the Union have already traded away their top scorer from the 2013 season, and they scored only nine goals in eight games. 

    The thought in the midfield is there with Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira standing out in the final third, but the onslaught of chances that was promised before the start of the season has only shown up on a few occasions. 

    Another reason why the Philadelphia attack is rated so low is the depth at the forward position. With Andrew Wenger and Conor Casey being the only proven goalscorers on the team, the Union could be in big trouble if both players hit a dry spell. 

17. Colorado Rapids

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    The Colorado Rapids are one of the younger teams in the league, and despite the diverse amount of talent at other positions on the pitch, they are still lacking a forward that can score week after week. 

    One of the older players on the roster, Edson Buddle, has scored nine goals in the last three years for three different clubs after notching 17 in 2010 with the Galaxy. 

    Partnering Buddle's aging body up front is a group that contains Gabriel Torres and Vicente Sanchez, who are two players that are more than capable of scoring on a consistent basis, but that has not happened yet. 

    The one thing Colorado has going for it in the attack is the play of midfielder Dillon Powers, who at 23 is one of the best young talents in the league. 

16. D.C. United

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    D.C. United is rated low on this list for one key reason, and his name is Eddie Johnson, otherwise known as Mr. Inconsistency. 

    Johnson is the perfect example of a forward who plays terrific when he is in form and contributes near nothing when he is struggling. 

    The Black and Red also have Fabian Espindola on the depth chart at forward, but he has only scored over 10 goals once in his MLS career. 

    Behind the two big names, D.C. has some young players that could play at a higher level, but they won't get a legitimate chance as long as Johnson and Espindola are healthy. 

15. San Jose Earthquakes

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    It may come as a shock to see the Earthquakes this far down on the list ranking the best attacks, but since soccer is a results-driven business, they deserve to be here. 

    The winners of the 2012 Supporters' Shield had a rough 2013 and this season is not looking any brighter for an attack led by United States World Cup candidate Chris Wondolowski. 

    Wondolowski is the one goal-scoring constant in the San Jose lineup, but when it comes to trusting Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart, things get a bit sketchy.

    San Jose is also penalized on this list for its reliance on the crosses sent in by Shea Salinas and others in the midfield. 

    The Earthquakes play to their strength in the height department, but on too many occasions over the last year, that advantage has not been used correctly. 

14. Montreal Impact

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    If you can make a legitimate argument that Montreal has a consistent provider in attack not named Marco Di Vaio, then you can debate that the Impact deserve to be higher on this list. 

    Di Vaio is a world-class scorer, but we are not rating the attacks based on the performance of an individual. 

    To give some credit to Montreal, it did go out and trade for Jack McInerney, who is a viable second scoring option, but he has lost a ton of confidence since he was called up to the United States Gold Cup camp last summer. 

    As for the parts around the forward partnership, they need to be less reliant on Di Vaio, who played a part in 22 of the club's 50 goals in 2013.

13. Portland Timbers

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    The Timbers are close to becoming a team with an elite attack, but there still seems like something is missing from Caleb Porter's lineup. 

    There is no doubt that Darlington Nagbe and Will Johnson are dynamic playmakers in the midfield, but the play of the forwards for the club has been underwhelming. 

    With a fantastic set of midfielders, that also includes Diego Chara and Diego Valeri, you would think that the Portland forwards would have no problem scoring, but the main pairing of Gaston Fernandez and Max Urruti have combined for three goals in seven games this season. 

12. Vancouver Whitecaps

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    After losing one of the league's best players in Camilo during the offseason, the Vancouver attack was supposed to have a hard time getting used to life without the Brazilian. 

    Instead, the young core led by Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh is beginning to find its stride in recent weeks. 

    The Whitecaps also have a veteran forward in Kenny Miller on the roster, which makes the transition to the youth a bit easier. 

    The other key to the Vancouver attack in 2014 has been the presence of Pedro Morales, who has been a menace to opposing defenses in his first year in the league. 

11. Chicago Fire

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    Before the 2014 season started, no one would have expected the Chicago Fire to have two of the league's biggest surprises in their attack. 

    The Chicago attack, which already included 2013 MLS Most Valuable Player Mike Magee, has added another dimension thanks to the play of Harrison Shipp and Quincy Amarikwa. 

    Amarikwa is having a career season under new manager Frank Yallop and Shipp has made the transition from college to the pros look easy in the first two months of the campaign.

    Add those two players to an attack that contains Patrick Nyarko, Jeff Larentowicz and Magee, and you have one of the more underrated attacking sides in the league. 

10. New York Red Bulls

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    While we're on the topic of underrated attacking teams, let's mention the New York Red Bulls. 

    New York receives plenty of attention for its main attractions up front in Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, but if you dig a bit deeper, the team is full of strong attackers. 

    Bradley Wright-Phillips and Peguy Luyindula are not world-class talents, but they both contain the skill sets to work well off of Henry and create a decent amount of goals for the Red Bulls. 

    Moving further back on the pitch into the midfield, Lloyd Sam and Eric Alexander are two players that cannot be ignored because of their creative instincts to set up the attack before the superstars take over. 

9. Houston Dynamo

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    When you have a set-piece wizard in Brad Davis roaming your midfield every game, you do not need world-class finishers to create chances by themselves. 

    Houston's attacking lineup boasts just that with Will Bruin and Giles Barnes being the main forwards in Dominic Kinnear's starting XI week after week. 

    Adding to the left foot of Davis in the midfield is the play of Oscar Boniek Garcia, who is no stranger to setting up attacking moves from his position on the pitch.

    Behind Bruin and Barnes at the forward position lies Omar Cummings, who at 31, is still good for a few goals in each season in a high-pressure situation off the bench. 

8. Chivas USA

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    This may be the highest rating Chivas USA will get all season, so enjoy while it lasts, Chivas USA fans, if any of you actually exist. 

    The Goats have a terrific young goalscorer in Erick Torres, who has scored six goals in his first seven games in 2014.

    One of the reasons why Torres is thriving up front is the addition of Mauro Rosales to a midfield that was searching for life for most of the lackluster 2013 season. 

    Another new addition that is helping the club get over its losing moniker is Leandro Barrera, who has benefited from the freedom he has received on the wing, and from the experience that the 33-year-old Rosales brings to the pitch. 

    Other pieces such as Carlos Alvarez and Agustin Pelletieri have fit well into manager Wilmer Cabrera's system to give the team's attack more of a pulse in 2014. 

7. Columbus Crew

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    The dynamic Columbus attack is anchored by one of the best playmakers in the league, Federico Higuain, whose play has been worthy of a MVP award since he entered MLS in 2012. 

    The Crew also boast two steady players up front in Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta, both of whom are able to take the pressure off Higuain in the goal-scoring department. 

    If you look into the team's midfield, they also have some solid players in Hector Jimenez, Bernardo Anor and Wil Trapp, all of whom benefit from the play of Higuain in the midfield. 

    To understand just how big of an impact Higuain has on the Crew, look no further than the 20 goals and 18 assists he has provided in 48 games for the club. 

6. Toronto FC

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    With names like Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley highlighting the roster, Toronto has a massive advantage over most of its opponents before it steps on the pitch. 

    Bradley is a player that can easily move forward and create quality passes in the attacking third, which is something that Defoe can benefit from in a heartbeat. 

    The Reds also boast a third designated player, Gilberto, who is no slouch up front himself. 

    All you need to do is look at the game the Reds won against D.C. on March 22 to see just how deadly this attack can be when it is 100 percent healthy. 

    While it is a very small sample size, the Toronto attack fired 14 shots on the D.C. goal in that game at BMO Field. 

5. Sporting Kansas City

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    Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes knows how to get the best of his players, despite not having the largest amount of talent. 

    The one superstar in the Sporting attack is Graham Zusi, who has become the player he is thanks to the system Vermes has put in place at Sporting Park. 

    Another United States international that has received plenty of praise for his work in the Sporting midfield is Benny Feilhaber, who is able to do plenty of damage to an opposing back four on any given day. 

    Vermes also has a big crop of forwards to choose from with Dom Dwyer, Claudio Bieler, C.J. Sapong and Soony Saad all being reliable options to find the back of the net. 

    Sporting's attack adds another dimension to itself when set pieces come along because of how powerful center-back Aurelien Collin is in the box. 

4. FC Dallas

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    In case you haven't noticed this yet this season, the attack that FC Dallas has is one of the most entertaining in the league.

    Not only does the attacking group raise eyebrows on the pitch, they also deliver goals, and plenty of them. 

    Through seven games in the 2014 season, the blazing form of the FC Dallas attack has led to a league-high 17 goals. 

    The goals have been scored by seven different players, including forwards Blas Perez and David Texeira, as well as Mauro Diaz, who has been the midfield maestro of all the offensive dominance. 

3. Seattle Sounders

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    If you think the Seattle Sounders attack is all Clint Dempsey and nothing else, you are not watching how well every player up front is performing for the club at the moment. 

    Dempsey's terrific form has sprouted plenty of confidence in Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle, two players that have seen their play taken to another level from their respective 2013 campaigns.

    Dempsey and Martins are getting close to challenging Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan for the title of most dangerous strike partnership in the league, as the duo have combined for seven goals and six assists when they are on the pitch together in 2014. 

    If you also add in the depth provided by offseason acquisition Kenny Cooper, the Sounders have one of the deepest and most efficient attacks in the league. 

2. Real Salt Lake

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    Real Salt Lake is a well-oiled machine when it comes to the team's attacking prowess. 

    No matter who gets plugged into Jeff Cassar's starting XI, you will have a player that is capable of scoring a few goals on a given night. 

    It all starts with the experienced duo of Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio, whose playmaking abilities are sublime when they are at their best. 

    Add in a touch of youth in the form of Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia and Luke Mulholland, and you have a team, that on its best night, could put three or four goals easily past the opposing keeper. 

1. LA Galaxy

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    Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are two of the best players in the world, when they are in form, by themselves. 

    Playing together as part of LA's tremendous attack, the duo make the other players even better thanks to their complementing styles. 

    Donovan and Keane are just two of the reasons why LA has the best attack in the league, as many members of the supporting cast are terrific players as well. 

    The midfield duo of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas have been solid for the Galaxy over the last few years, but now that Baggio Husidic and Stefan Ishizaki are contending for spots in the starting 11, the play of all four players has been kicked up a notch. 

    Manager Bruce Arena also has some young dynamic forwards waiting in the wings on the bench in Gyasi Zardes and Samuel. 

    As if that wasn't enough, Arena brought in a towering force in the form of Rob Friend during the offseason, and his height off the bench has added yet another dimension to the terrific Galaxy attack, that when firing on all cylinders, is by far the best in the league. 

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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