The beginning of the 2012 Major League Soccer season is right around the corner and the folks over at MLS Soccer have released their first preseason power rankings. As expected the LA Galaxy are on top, while the New England Revolution get no love, as MLS Soccer ranks them below the expansion side Montreal Impact.
What do you think of the rankings?
1: LA Galaxy
Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Mike Magee, David Beckham … holy crap this team is going to score a lot of goals. Chances are, though, that they’ll concede a few more than in recent years thanks to the departure of Juninho and the injury to Omar Gonzalez. Still, Bruce Arena has to be salivating over the talent at his disposal this season.
Key Addition: Edson Buddle (F), Marcelo Sarvas (M)
Key Losses: Juninho (M), Omar Gonzalez (D, injury), Donovan Ricketts (GK)
First Game: March 10 vs. Real Salt Lake
2: Seattle Sounders
Depth, balance, creativity, goal scorers all over the pitch, veteran defenders, a new ‘keeper who has bought into the culture, one of the three greatest coaches in league history and a demure, soft-spoken fan base. What more could a team want?
Key Additions: Michael Gspurning (GK), Adam Johansson (D), Christian Sivebaek (M)
Key Losses: Kasey Keller (GK), James Riley (D), Erik Friberg (M)
First Game: March 17 vs. Toronto
3: Real Salt Lake
RSL aren’t as deep as the Sounders or Galaxy, but one-through-18 or so, they’re right there with the leaders. Everybody’s finally healthy again (or near enough), and they don’t have the pressure of the CCL knockout rounds to deal with.
Key Additions: Enzo Martinez (M)
Key Losses: Robbie Russell (D), Andy Williams (M)
First Game: March 10 at LA
4: Sporting Kansas
Everything seems to be pointing to them continuing their rise after last year’s run, but offloading veterans such as Omar Bravo and Davy Arnaud is always risky. There’s also the simple fact that they won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year.
Key Additions: Bobby Convey (M), Paulo Nagamura (M), Dom Dwyer (F)
Key Losses: Omar Bravo (F), Davy Arnaud (M)
First Game: March 10 at D.C. United
5: Chicago Fire
From about August onward, Chicago was among the best teams in the league. Unlike the rest of their Eastern Conference compatriots, the Fire didn’t lose any key players in the offseason. A lot rests on Pardo’s 35-year-old legs, but he looked up to the task in 2011.
Key Additions: Rafael Robayo (M), Federico Puppo (F)
Key Loss: Diego Chaves (F)
First Game: March 17 at Montreal
6: Houston Dynamo
There’s still a big, big question about where the Dynamo’s goals will come from. But with pretty much the same midfield and defense back from last year’s Cup run, plus plenty of allocation money and cap flexibility, they look pretty good even without a go-to No. 9.
Key Additions: Nathan Sturgis (M), Colin Rolfe (F)
Key Losses: Brian Ching (F), Danny Cruz (M)
First Game: March 11 at Chivas USA
7: New York Red Bulls
New York have plenty of talent, but it’s brittle – their three most important players (Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers and Teemu Tainio) all missed significant chunks of time last year. And Wilman Conde is coming off a significant injury himself.
Key Additions: Kenny Cooper (F), Wilman Conde (D), Markus Holgersson (D)
Key Losses: Tim Ream (D), Frank Rost (GK)
First Game: March 11 at FC Dallas
8: Portland Timbers
They have one of the league’s best home-field advantages, and in Kris Boyd, they have a pure striker who should challenge for the Golden Boot. But there are still defensive issues, and their young, talented wingers need to start dribbling with their heads up.
9: Colorado Rapids
A lot of folks used the throttling Colorado took at the hands of SKC as proof that their MLS Cup 2010 title was a fluke, but the reality is that they had a simply ridiculous glut of injuries to deal with. If they get healthy – and they should by April or so – they’ll be in the hunt.
Key Addition: Hunter Freeman (D), Jaime Castrillón (M)
Key Losses: Sanna Nyassi (M), Miguel Comminges (D)
First Game: March 10 vs. Columbus
10: Columbus Crew
The Crew are basically following the same game plan as Houston: Build a solid, veteran defense and then hope the midfield stays healthy and creates chances. It worked pretty well for a team in rebuilding mode, and should be even better in 2012.
Key Additions: Carlos Mendes (D), Milovan Mirosevic (M), Olman Vargas (F)
Key Losses: Andrés Mendoza (F), Robbie Rogers (M), Josh Gardner (D)
First Game: March 10 at Colorado
11: FC Dallas
Blas Pérez will score goals and, by June at the latest, be the most hated striker in MLS for his diving and histrionics. But will David Ferreira and Daniel Hernandez be healthy? Is Brek Shea’s head already overseas? And how will they replace Marvin Chávez, Jackson and possibly George John?
Key Additions: Blas Pérez (F), Hernán Pertúz (D), Carlos Rodríguez (D)
Key Losses: Marvin Chávez (M), Jackson (M)
First Game: March 11 vs New York
12: Vancouver Whitecaps
The Power Rankings Politburo has been a fan of Martin Rennie since the old Cleveland City Stars days, and we’re very, very fond of what he’s done with the ‘Caps roster so far. They still need some depth in central midfield, but the overhaul looks like a winning one.
Key Additions: Sébastien Le Toux (F), Lee Nguyen (M), Lee Young-Pyo (D), Darren Mattocks (F/M)
Key Losses: Jeb Brovsky (D), Shea Salinas (M)
First Game: March 10 vs. Montreal
13: Philadelphia Union
Maybe Peter Nowak, Nick Sakiewicz & Co. have a master plan. But we can’t figure it out. Le Toux has accounted for nearly 60 percent of the Union’s all-time scoring output, and it wasn’t an accident that the defense improved once Mondragón was between the pipes.
Key Additions: Gabriel Gómez (M), Josué Martínez (F), Chandler Hoffman (F)
Key Losses: Sébastien Le Toux (F), Faryd Mondragón (GK), Justin Mapp (M)
First Game: March 12 at Portland
14: San Jose Earthquakes
Perhaps no team has had as productive an offseason as the Quakes. They got faster, tougher at the defensive midfielder and central defensive positions and – most importantly – will have Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon to do the donkey work for Chris Wondolowski.
Key Additions: Marvin Chávez (M), Shea Salinas (M), Víctor Bernárdez (D), Tressor Moreno (M/F), Sam Garza (M)
Key Losses: Bobby Burling (D), Bobby Convey (M), Simon Dawkins (M/F)
First Game: March 10 vs. New England
15: D.C. United
Getting Branko Boskovic and Chris Pontius healthy should be priorities No. 2 and 2A. Priority No. 1? Getting Dwayne De Rosario into camp and happy for the next couple of years. United will struggle at the start of the year, but should get better as the season trucks along.
Key Additions: Hamdi Salihi (F), Robbie Russell (D), Maicon Santos (F), Danny Cruz (M)
Key Losses: Charlie Davies (F), Clyde Simms (M), Santino Quaranta (M)
First Game: March 10 vs. Sporting KC
16: Toronto FC
Americans and Canadians both dream of one day producing a forward who finishes like Danny Koevermans. But neither he nor Torsten Frings – the real key to the team – are getting any younger, and TFC’s schedule is packed. They’re even more vulnerable to injuries than RBNY.
Key Additions: Reggie Lambe (M), Luis Silva (M), Miguel Aceval (D), Geovanny Caicedo (D)
Key Loss: Nathan Sturgis (M)
First Game: March 17 at Seattle
17: Chivas USA
The offense looks nice with Nick LaBrocca and Miller Bolaños pulling the strings for Juan Pablo Ángel and draft pick Casey Townsend, but what about that defense? The Goats only have two true central defenders, and one of them – David Júnior Lopes – was less than impressive in 2011.
Key Additions: Ryan Smith (M), Oswaldo Minda (M), Miller Bolaños (M), John Alexander Valencia (D)
Key Losses: Justin Braun (F), Zarek Valentin (D), Paulo Nagamura (M)
First Game: March 11 vs. Houston
18: Montreal Impact
There’s a ton of promise for Jesse March’s crew, but it remains to be seen how quickly they’ll come together. If Brian Ching really is on board for a new project, he’s an invaluable presence in the locker room. Nelson Rivas brings some of the best experience in the league.
Key Additions: Nelson Rivas (D), Brian Ching (F), Jusin Mapp (M), Andrew Wenger (M)
Key Losses: N/A
First Game: March 10 at Vancouver
19: New England Revolution
John Lozano – not Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph or anyone else – is actually the key player in New England this year. The offense and possession game was better than good down the stretch, but defensively, they couldn’t stop a sneeze. Lozano needs to come through for them to improve.
Key Additions: John Lozano (D), Clyde Simms (M), Kelyn Rowe (M); José Moreno (F)
Key Losses: Milton Caraglio (F), Rajko Lekic (F), Pat Phelan (M)
First Game: March 10 at San Jose