It is finally time for the return of the MLS. The last two months have been filled with transfer drama, but it is time for the games to really begin. Will NYCFC defend their title and how expansion team Charlotte do this year? The MLS is always unpredictable so we will definitely be in for some surprises this season.
The five stripes will be looking for improvement after last year’s first-round exit. Manager Gonzalo Pineda has seemed to reignite this group, and they will definitely be hungry to compete for a title. Record signing Thiago Almada will have pressure to perform immediately after the departure of Ezequiel Barco. Andrew Gutman will likely slot in for George Bello, who has been sold to Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld. Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will operate in the Jeff Larentowicz role. Alonso is a similar age, and around the same age as Larentowicz was when he joined Atlanta. Erik Lopez is heading back to Argentina, but Dom Dwyer will be joining Atlanta, after trialing with them during the preseason.
Prediction: 3rd in the East
MVP: Josef Martinez
Breakthrough Player: George Campbell
Austin FC will be looking to improve after a lackluster expansion season. The signings of Maximiliano Urruti and Jhojan Valencia should help improve the Verde and Black. Designated player Tomas Pochetttino has gone to River Plate in Argentina. This could hurt Austin as they seemed to lack creativity last season.
Prediction: 13th in the West
MVP: Sebastian Driussi
Breakthrough Player: Jon Gallagher
Canadian champions Cf Montreal will be looking to make the playoffs, and go on a run in the Concacaf Champions League. Montreal has an extremely interesting and young squad. New arrival Allistair Johnston will help to solidify their defense, while Kei Kamara while providing experience and a threat up top for the side from Quebec. Lassi Lappalainen and Joaquin Torres have both had their loans made permanent. This Montreal team is very well balanced, and Wilfried Nancy is doing a great job with this team
Prediction: 7th in the East
MVP: Djordje Mihailovic
Breakthrough Player: Mason Toye
Expansion team Charlotte FC will finally take the field after a chaotic roster-building phase. Many of the signings that Charlotte FC attempted to complete fell through due to many complicated reasons. Midfielder Riley Mcgree was sold before Charlotte had even played a game. Premier League champion Christian Fuchs will be expected to lead the backline and is a good candidate for the captaincy. The Ecuadorian duo of Alan Franco and Jordy Alcivar will be crucial to any success that Charlotte FC might have. Expansion teams do not tend to fare well in their expansion season, and Charlotte FC has had a really hard time this preseason.
Prediction: 14th in the East
MVP: Jordy Alcivar
Breakthrough Player: McKenzie Gaines
Chicago Fire FC
Chicago Fc has finally made a statement of intent with many signings during this winter transfer window. Xherdan Shaqiri is going to be one of the most talented players in the entirety of the MLS. Kacper Przybylko has consistently scored goals throughout his career and will be a solid goalscorer, especially with Shaqiri playing alongside him. Rafael Czichos has played against many top teams and should help strengthen Chicago’s backline. Winger Jario Torres will provide a creative spark when he joins in the Summer. It is now down to new manager Ezra Hendrickson to get results out of this talented squad. It will take this team to tell as many of these new players have never played with each other, and some of these players will need time to adapt to the MLS. While I don’t think this side will have the best regular season, they could be a very dangerous team in the US Open Cup.
Prediction: 8th in the East
MVP: Xherdan Shaqiri
Breakthrough Player: Jhon Espinoza
It will be a difficult season for the Colorado Rapids after many key players have departed the club. Losing Cole Bassett and Kellyn Acosta will make Colorado’s midfield significantly weaker. Bryan Acosta should soften the losses of Bassett and Acosta, but he alone cannot replace both players.
Prediction: 12th in the West
MVP: Jack Price
Breakthrough Player: Jonathan Lewis
The Columbus Crew will be looking to make the playoffs after missing out last season. The 2020 champions have kept a large majority of their team, and have signed Austrian center back Milos Degenek. Lucas Zelarayan is the heartbeat of the Crew and will need to perform if Columbus wants to get back into the playoffs.
Prediction: 9th in the East
MVP: Lucas Zelarayan
Breakthrough Player: Aidan Morris
Although the season is about to start, many question marks still surround DC United. Ola Kamara has been linked with a move away from the nation’s capital, but he should start through the summer. Michael Estrada should help Kamara up top, the only problem is that it will be hard to get both of them on the pitch at one time. Losing Kevin Parades, Paul Arriola, and Yordy Reyna will leave DC really thin in wide areas.
Prediction: 10th in the East
MVP: Michael Estrada
Breakthrough Player: Moses Nyeman
FC Cincinnati will be desperate to get off the bottom of the table after three straight “wodden spoons”. Alec Kann should help solve Cincinatti’s goalkeeper problem. Dominique Badji will provide a goalscoring threat if Brenner continues to underperform.
Prediction: 13th in the East
MVP: Luciano Acosta
Breakthrough Player: Brandon Vazquez
Although Ricardo Pepi has been sold to FC Augsburg Dallas seems to have an even stronger squad than they did last season. Alan Velasco will be one to watch as he was one of the best young players in the Argentine League. Paul Arriola should fit in on the other wing providing a threat, and leading a young attack. Jesus Ferreira is now a designated player, so he will be expected to put up much better numbers as he will likely play as a false nine. If Paxton Pomykal can stay healthy, then Dallas will have one of the best attacks this season. New manager, Nico Estevez is known for his youth development and should be a good fit for Dallas. That being said, the departures of Ryan Hollghead and Justin Che will significantly weaken the Dallas defense.
Prediction: 7th in the West
MVP: Jesus Ferreira
Breakthrough Player: Nkosi Tafari
Houston has finally invested as they have a new ownership group. Striker Sebastian Ferreira should provide a goal threat not just for this season, but for many future seasons as well. Steve Clark is a solid goalkeeper and Houston have a very experienced backline. Houston has been linked with Hector Herrara, so if they sign him then they might be in the playoff hunt. However, if he does join it likely will not be until the summer.
Prediction: 14th in the West
MVP: Sebastian Ferreira
Breakthrough Player: Thorleif Ulfarsson
Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami will head into 20222 with an almost completely different squad than they had in 2021. Blaise Matuidi, Lewis Morgan, Julian Carranza, Rodolfo Pizarro, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Christian Makoun, Jay Chapman, and Jorge Figal have all left the club during the winter transfer window. DeAndre Yedlin has joined the club and will be a crucial part of the Miami defense. Leonardo Campana has joined on loan from Wolves and should replace Julian Carranza as the backup striker. Emerson Rodriguez and Jean Mota should help replace Lewis Morgan and Blaise Matuidi.
Prediction: 12th in the East
MVP: Gonzalo Higuain
Breakthrough Player: Edison Azcona
Although the Galaxy missed the playoffs last season, they have one of the strongest teams in the league. The signing of Douglas Costa offers a new dimension to the attack that the Galaxy has recently lacked. Chicharito is one of the favorites to win the golden boot and Dejan Jovelijc is a very solid backup striker. Samuel Grandsir, Efrain Alvarez, and Kevin Cabral will also be dangerous threats, in the attack. The Galaxy have lost experience with the departures of Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget, but this team has too much talent to miss the playoffs.
Prediction: 4th in the West
Breakthrough Player: Julian Araujo
If Carlos Vela can stay healthy, then LAFC will be one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Doneil Henry, Ryan Hollingshead, and Franco Escobar will provide solidity to the defense. Maxime Crepeau is a very good goalkeeper and will likely solve LAFC’s goalkeeping problem. Kellyn Acosta will be a very solid replacement for Eduard Atuesta, while Ilie Sanchez will provide experience in the midfield. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi will be a very good player to bring off the bench if Carlos Vela gets tired late in games. Christian Arango looked very dangerous last season, and good has an even better season in 2022.
Prediction: 2nd in the West
MVP: Christian Arango
Breakthrough Player: Mamadou Fall
Minnesota United FC
Minnesota United has a solid team, but they did not do enough business during the winter. The only major signings that they made were Luis Amarilla and Kevin Arriaga, and they lost both Osvaldo Alonso and Thomas Chacon. Emanuel Reynoso had a lackluster 2021, and might not be in the right headspace after legal trouble during the offseason. If the Loons make some signings in the summer window then they might be a playoff team, but right now they look like they will be below the playoff line.
Prediction: 8th in the West
MVP: Robin Lod
Breakthrough Player: Hassani Dotson
Nashville SC will be looking to continue their success after finishing 3rd in the eastern conference, last season. Last year Nashville had the best home record in the league, and it is likely that they will b still be very difficult to beat at home. Nashville will be in the western conference this season after expansion team Charlotte FC joined the east. Nashville will open their new stadium on May 1st against the Philadelphia Union. Hany Mukhtar and Walker Zimmerman are the two key pieces to this Nashville team. If they can stay healthy, then Nashville should be near the top of the West.
Prediction: 3rd in the West
MVP: Hany Mukhtar
Breakthrough Player: Ake Loba
New England Revolution
The Revs will be looking to defend their Supporters Shield as well as going on a playoff run, in 2022. New additions Jozy Altidore, Omar Gonzalez, and Sebastian Lleget will all provide talent and experience to this New England squad. Although New England has lost Tajon Buchanan and Teal Bunbury, they still have more than enough talent to have a good run at defending the Supporters Shield. Matt Turner will be leaving for Arsenal in the summer, so New England will need to decide if they want to sign a new goalkeeper or make Brad Knighton the starting goalkeeper. Adam Buksa looks like he might also be leaving in the summer, but Jozy Altidore will slot into his role perfectly.
Prediction: 2nd in the East
MVP: Carles Gil
Breakthrough Player: Henry Kessler
Defending champions NYCFC will have a great chance at defending their crown in 2022. New signing Thiago Martins will help solidify an already strong defense. However, the departures of Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, and James Sands could really hurt NYCFC. Golden Boot winner “Taty” Castellanos could be on his way out in the summer, and this could leave NYCFC with a very thin attack.
Prediction: 4th in the East
MVP: Maxi Moralez
Breakthrough Player: Tayvon Gray
New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls have a very balanced squad heading into the 2022 season. The signings of Lewis Morgan and Luquinhas will provide even more strength to an already strong Red Bulls attack. The departures of Kyle Duncan and Andre Gutman will leave the side from New Jersey thin in the fullback positions.
Prediction: 11th in the East
MVP: Patryk Klimala
Breakthrough Player: Omir Fernandez
Orlando City SC
Orlando City has gone through a significant number of changes during the offseason. Alexander Alvarado, Emmanuel Mas, Daryl Dike, Chris Mueller, Oriol Rosell, and Luis Nani have all left the club. To fill the hole of Dike Orlando has signed Austrian striker Ercan Karaa as a designated player. Orlando has also signed Uruguayan winger Facundo Torres as a designated player.
Prediction: 6th in the East
MVP: Facundo Torres
Breakthrough Player: Andres Parea
The Union has one of the best squads and youth academies in the entire league. Losing Jamiro Monteiro and Kacper Przybylko will help the Union transition into a new generation. New additions Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza should provide the Union with a very lethal attack.
Prediction: 1st in the East
MVP: Daniel Gazdag
Breakthrough Player: Paxten Aaronson
MLS Cup runners-up will be looking to go one step further in 2022. However, the departures of Diego Valeri and Steve Clark could end up being the difference between whether or not Portland can compete for the title. David Ayala should slot in well to Portland’s midfield. alongside Diego Chara.
Prediction: 5th in the West
MVP: Yimmi Chara
Breakthrough Player: Santiago Moreno
Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake will be looking for a successful 2022 season after reaching the Western Conference Final last season. However, the departure of Albert Rusnak will definitively leave Salt Lake in a difficult position. Although they will not have Rusnak, they beat Seattle and Kansas City without him, during their playoff run, in 2021. Striker Sergio Cordova should provide Salt Lake with a threat up top that they lacked last season.
Prediction: 9th in the West
MVP: Damir Kreilach
Breakthrough Player: Justin Meram
San Jose Earthquakes
2022 will be a transition year for the Earthquakes. Chris Wondolowski has now retired, and it is probably Mathias Almeyda’s last season in San Jose. Jamiro Monteiro, Francisco Calvo, and Jan Gregus will all help improve San Jose. If this squad finds its rhythm quickly, then the Earthquakes can definitely make a push for a playoff spot.
Prediction: 10th in the West
MVP: Javier “Chofis” Lopez
Breakthrough Player: Marcos Lopez
Seattle Sounders FC
No matter who plays for the Sounders, they always seem to be near the top of the table. With the addition of Albert Rusnak and the return of Jordan Morris Seattle will definitely be competing for a trophy, in 2022.
Prediction: 1st in the West (Supporters Shield Champions)
MVP: Joao Paulo
Breakthrough Player: Obed Vargas
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City is entering the 2022 season with a question mark. With Alan Pulido being out for the season it is unclear where their main source of goals will come form. Wingers Daniel Salloi, Marinos Tzionis, and Johnny Russell will need to have their shooting boots on if Sporting Kansas City want to have a playoff run.
Prediction: 6th in the West
MVP: Johnny Russell
Breakthrough Player: Cameron Duke
Toronto FC has gone through a major turnarounbd in the last month. Auro, Jozy Altidore, Yeferson Soteldo, Richie Laryea, and Omar Gonzalez have all left the club. Shane O’Neill, Carlos Salcedo, and Jesus Jimenez have all come in to replace the recent departures. Lorenzo Insigne will join Toronto in the summer, and should provide a spark that will help the Canadian side climb the table during the second half of the season. Expiernced defender Domenico Criscito also looks like he will be joining the Canadian side, and solve s the problem of a lack of fullbacks.
Prediction: 5th in the East
MVP: Lorenzo Insigne
Breakthrough Player: Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
The Whitecaps will be looking to build on a shock plaoff appearance in 2021. The signing of Tristan Blackmon should help solidify the Vancouver defense. The loss of Maxime Crepeau will put enourmus pressure in young goalkeeper Thomas Hasal.
Prediction: 11th in the West
MVP: Ryan Gauld
Breakthrough Player: Thomas Hasal