Here is the second of my four preseason unit rankings. I didn't put the goalkeepers in with the defense. I felt they needed a look of their own.
1. Chivas USA. Brad Guzan is hands down the best goalkeeper in MLS. The only worrisome spot is his backup. There is no other goalkeeper on the roster right now. If Guzan bolts during the summer transfer window, Chivas could be crippled. Still, Guzan is good for several stellar saves a match.
2. New England. Matt Reis is reliable and dependable, so much so that you kind of take him for granted. While it’s not necessarily a plus for him, Reis probably won’t be called into U.S. national team duty too much which means more games for him this season.
3. Houston. Pat Onstad is the oldest goalkeeper in MLS, but that’s not exactly slowing him down. Onstad made a strong case for 2007 Goalkeeper of the Year but he had to be content with winning his third MLS Cup.
4. San Jose. Joe Cannon and Preston Burpo are a solid 1-2 punch, but Cannon is the man barring injury. Cannon led San Jose to its first MLS Cup title back in 2001 and hasn’t slowed down much since.
5. Colorado. Bouna Coundoul can make the spectacular save look easy but can also make the easy save into an adventure. He’s developed quickly since he was thrust into the fire in 2006. Bouna Time is now on 24/7, and the Rapids will benefit.
6. D.C. United. Zach Wells is seemingly the heir apparent to Troy Perkins while Jose Carvallo is a promising number two. Both should play a lot this year as D.C. will compete in five tournaments.
7. Columbus. Will Hesmer seemingly will stop the revolving door the Crew have had at goalkeeper for several years. Hesmer has a lot of upside and will be put to test with the shaky defense in front of him.
8. Kansas City. Kevin Hartman is talented but he’s not getting any younger. Some complained about Hartman’s weight last year, as he put on some pounds from his days with the Galaxy. A heavier Hartman had some trouble with his mobility that a lighter Hartman does not.
9. New York. No more aging Dutch ‘keeper around, so this job is Jon Conway’s to lose. Conway has never been a full-time starter, though. Can he handle the load?
10. FC Dallas. Dario Sala and Ray Burse can each have their moments, but can also provide headaches. Burse has more upside but Sala is a bit more settled in the goal.
11. Real Salt Lake. Nick Rimando has won an MLS Cup but isn’t a championship-caliber goalkeeper any more. Rimando has his moments but is tested too much playing behind RSL’s poor defense.
12. Chicago. Matt Pickens will be missed. Jon Busch is a health concern and is unlikely to make it through an entire season healthy. Not much behind Busch either.
13. Toronto. Greg Sutton has played a lot in the United Soccer League. Can he handle the rigors of playing in Major League Soccer?
14. Los Angeles. Steve Cronin has been waiting in the wings for years, but there is a reason why Cronin never got a chance. He’s a decent backup and can play well in a pinch but is not number one material.