Union picked fourth in East in preseason writers' poll

SEATTLE - The North American Soccer Reporters has released its preseason media poll. The Union were picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference.

I am a member of the NASR and I was one of the voters. It tells you something about the state of the American soccer media that only 21 people cast ballots. The NASR has many more members than that, but we aren't anything like the Baseball Writers Association of America or the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (I'm a member of the USBWA too, for the record).

In addition to ranking MLS' 19 teams, voters were asked to pick one player from each team to single out as the most important.

For the Union, Danny Mwanga received the plurality of votes. Freddy Adu, Danny Califf, Zac MacMath, Gabriel Gomez, Roger Torres and Carlos Valdés were also nominated.

Here are the results of the poll. Afterwards, you can read my ballot.

Where do you think the Union will finish in the conference standings, and who do you think is the team's most important player? Have your say in the comments.

Eastern Conference

1. Sporting Kansas City, 207 points (18 first-place votes)

Most important player: Graham Zusi (17 votes), C.J. Sapong (2), Teal Bunbury, Aurélien Collin

2. Houston Dynamo, 172 points (3)

Most important player: Brad Davis (13), Geoff Cameron (4), Tally Hall (2), Luiz Camargo, Brian Ching

3. New York Red Bulls, 155 points

Most important player: Thierry Henry (12), Luke Rodgers (3), Joel Lindpere (2), Dane Richards (2), Wilman Conde

4. Philadelphia Union, 147 points

Most important player: Danny Mwanga (6), Freddy Adu (5), Danny Califf (4), Zac MacMath (3), Gabriel Gomez, Roger Torres, Carlos Valdés

5. Chicago Fire, 107 points

Most important player: Dominic Oduro (8), Sebastian Grazzini (5), Pável Pardo (2), Sean Johnson (2), Orr Barouch, Marco Pappa, Rafael Robayo

6. D.C. United, 103 points

Most important player: Dwayne De Rosario (17), Branko Boskovic, Andy Najar, Hamdi Salihi

7. Columbus Crew, 89 points

Most important player: Eddie Gaven (7), Chad Marshall (6), Milovan Mirošević (3), Dilly Duka, William Hesmer, Danny O’Rourke, Emilio Renteria

8. Toronto FC, 67 points

Most important player: Danny Koevermans (10), Torsten Frings (4), Stefan Frei (2), Joao Plata (2), Ryan Johnson

9. New England Revolution, 65 points

Most important player: Shalrie Joseph (11), Benny Feilhaber (6), Kelyn Rowe, Clyde Simms

10 Montréal Impact, 28 points

Most important player: Davy Arnaud (7), Donovan Ricketts (6), Patrice Bernier (3), Justin Braun, Mike Fucito, Sanna Nyassi, Andrew Wenger

Western Conference

1. Los Angeles Galaxy, 210 points (21 first-place votes)

Most important player: Landon Donovan (13), AJ DeLaGarza (4), David Beckham (2), Juninho, Robbie Keane

2. Seattle Sounders, 183 points

Most important player: Mauro Rosales (10), Osvaldo Alonso (5), Fredy Montero (5), Eddie Johnson

3. Real Salt Lake, 162 points

Most important player: Javier Morales (7), Kyle Beckerman (6), Fabian Espindola (3), Álvaro Saborio (3), Nick Rimando

4. FC Dallas, 133 points

Most important player: David Ferreira (10), Brek Shea (7), Kevin Hartman (3), Daniel Hernandez, Blas Pérez

5. Portland Timbers, 111 points

Most important player: Kris Boyd (8), Diego Chará (4), Jack Jewsbury (3), Troy Perkins (2), Franck Songo’o, Kalif Alhassan, Rodney Wallace

6. Vancouver Whitecaps, 105 points

Most important player: Davide Chiumiento (5), Eric Hassli (5), Camilo Sanvezzo (4), Sébastien Le Toux (4), Jay DeMerit (2)

7. San Jose Earthquakes, 90 points

Most important player: Chris Wondolowski (14), Jon Busch (2), Simon Dawkins (2), Tressor Moreno (2)

8. Colorado Rapids, 88 points

Most important player: Omar Cummings (9), Jeff Larentowicz (5), Conor Casey (4), Pablo Mastroeni, Matt Pickens, Martin Rivero

9. Chivas USA, 46 points

Most important player: Juan Pablo Ángel (7), Dan Kennedy (5), Nick LaBrocca (2), Heath Pearce (2), Oswaldo Minda, James Riley, Ryan Smith, Peter Vagenas

Here's my ballot:

Eastern Conference 

1. Sporting Kansas City (Graham Zusi)

2. Philadelphia Union (Gabriel Gomez)

3. Houston Dynamo (Brad Davis)

4. Toronto FC (Danny Koevermans)

5. New York Red Bulls (Joel Lindpere)

6. D.C. United (Dwayne de Rosario)

7. Columbus Crew (Chad Marshall)

8. Chicago Fire (Sean Johnson)

9. Montréal Impact (Michael Fucito)

10. New England Revolution (Benny Feilhaber)

Western Conference

1. Los Angeles Galaxy (Landon Donovan)

2. Seattle Sounders (Fredy Montero)

3. Real Salt Lake (Javier Morales)

4. Vancouver Whitecaps (Sébastien Le Toux)

5. FC Dallas (David Ferreira)

6. Portland Timbers (Franck Songo'o)

7. San Jose Earthquakes (Chris Wondolowski)

8. Chivas USA (Juan Pablo Ángel)

9. Colorado Rapids (Omar Cummings)