We are a little over a month away from the official start of the 2012 Major League Soccer regular season, but the MLSSoccer.com website has already released preseason power rankings. Despite the fact that January deadline day has come and gone, teams are still able to make changes to their rosters. It also can't be ignored that a lot can happen in a month of preseason training. With that said, I don't have much of a problem with how the clubs were ranked.
2012 MLS preseason power rankings: The top
Sure, the LA Galaxy lost Juninho, and Omar Gonzalez may miss the entire calendar year due to ligament tears in his left knee. There still isn't a better squad in all of MLS. Landon Donovan, currently enjoying a rather successful loan spell at Everton, is slated to return before the start of the domestic season. David Beckham announced in mid-January that he was making a return to the Galaxy (he had been linked with PSG at the completion of the 2011 MLS season). Robbie Keane and Mike Magee will be back, and Edson Buddle recently announced a return to the Galaxy.
There are only two questions to ask regarding the current LA squad: How many goals are they going to score this season? Is there any defense in the league that can stop them?
2012 MLS preseason power rankings: The Red Bulls
The Red Bulls start the MLS preseason ranked seventh in power rankings. I have no real problem with this. There's no way anybody can place New York with the likes of Los Angeles, Seattle Sounders or Real Salt Lake. While Sporting KC have lost a couple of significant players, they also don't have to worry about starting the season on a two-month long road trip. Nothing has happened between November and February, in my eyes, to list the Red Bulls above KC.
The Chicago Fire, ranked fifth, were one of the hottest teams in the league during the final two months of the 2011 season. They lost just once in their last seven matches, and that defeat came against a playoff team (FC Dallas). While the Fire are mostly the same team they were last October, I'm still curious to see if this particular Chicago squad will play like a contender for more than one-third of a season. If anything, I probably would have ranked the Houston Dynamo one spot ahead of Chicago. Houston quietly finished the 2011 MLS regular season as the second best team in the east, and the Dynamo made a run all the way to the MLS Cup Final.
I'm a big fan of what New York sporting director/general manager Erik Soler and company have done this offseason. Losing a player such as Tim Ream is never a plus, but that move did give the club a little bit of money to play around with both now and in the summer. The lack of a veteran goalkeeper is a concern, as is the fact that aging captain Thierry Henry is spending his weekends this February playing in competitive matches for Arsenal. They've brought in four new defenders, including Wilman Conde, have Kenny Cooper as a "backup plan" and they held onto Juan Agudelo; for now. Things could certainly be worse.
Looking at the current power rankings, I think the Colorado Rapids may be a bit underrated. Outside of that, these seem to be rather fair rankings considering not a single match has been played. It's true that preseason power rankings mean as much as does a teenager being in love. That doesn't mean it's not fun to think about the upcoming season. This spring-like weather sure isn't helping MLS fans remain patient. It feels like March, and thus we are ready for games today.