6. DC United
Overview: After an unexpectedly successful season, Ben Olsen and DC United have all the tools to make another deep run in the playoffs. Olsen has created at team in his own image, and with Kevin Payne’s exodus, the former DC United player is in complete control of his team. United will benefit from the right mix of youth and experience. Savvy forward and former MVP Carlos Ruiz has been brought in to provide depth, and should take some leadership pressure away from team captain Dwayne De Rosario. The team’s best unit is certainly its midfield, which is still young, but blossomed under Olsen’s guidance. The key to the season, though, will be keeping everyone healthy. It was surprising to see DC do so well even after De Rosario went down. If he remains healthy, there’s no reason to think that a trophy is out of reach.
Key Player: With a career high 12 goals last season, Chris Pontius put himself in National Team contention. His consistent form also proved that Pontius is one of the team’s leaders, able to carry it on his back when others aren’t. If Pontius stays healthy, expect him to improve on last season.