The 2022 MLS season was one of the best in recent memory culminating with an enthralling MLS Cup Final. The 2023 season will hopefully be as good as the previous one as the MLS introduces its 29th team, as well as its new playoff format. With 9 teams making the playoffs, there will be less pressure on teams during the regular season, but the players will still be desperate to finish as high in the table as they possibly can. Here is my completely unbiased and accurate 2023 season preview.
Atlanta United had an extremely disappointing 2022 season and will be looking for a bounce-back 2023 season. There has been a major roster turnaround with club legend Josef Martinez departing the club, as well as Marcelino Moreno(loan), Raul Gudino, Edwin Mosquera(loan), Dom Dwyer, Alan Franco, Emerson Hyndman, Ronaldo Cisneros, Rocco Rios Novo, and George Campbell. The five stripes have also made some important signings in Georgios Giakoumakis, Luis Abram, Clement Diop, Quentin Westberg, Derrick Etienne Jr, and Miguel Berry. Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan, and Osvaldo Alonso Alonso will all be returning from their injuries this season, although Alonso will likely miss the first month of the new campaign. If Atlanta can stay healthy they look like they will have a competitive team heading into a very competitive Eastern Conference. If Luiz Araujo can perform up to his potential, then the five stripes have no excuses to not be competing near the top of the Eastern Conference. Thiago Almada will be a player to look out for as he is coming off a World Cup victory in Qatar.
Player of the Season: Luiz Araujo
Breakout Star: Luke Brennan
Prediction: 5th in the Eastern Conference
CF Montreal will be going into a transition year after a successful 2022 season. Manager Wilfried Nancy left for Columbus while Bjorn Johnsen, Joaquin Torres, Ismael Kone, Alistair Johnston, Kei Kamara, and Djordje Mihalilovic have all departed. Montreal has brought in George Campbell, Jules-Anthony Vilsaint, Ilias Illliadis, and Aaron Herrera. While they have brought in some good pieces, Montreal has lost so many key players that is hard to see them not taking a step back in the upcoming season. I am also not convinced by new manager Hernan Losada. With all of this turnaround happening in such a short period of time, this season could be very chaotic for Montreal.
Player of the Season: Victor Wanyama
Breakout Star: Matko Miljevic (after he returns from injury)
Prediction: 14th in the Eastern Conference
Charlotte FC will be looking to build on a strong first season in Major League Soccer. The team from the Queen City will have to deal with the loss of Anton Walkes after his death in a tragic boating accident. However, this seems to have really united the team, and they looked very united at the end of last season under Christian Lattanzio. This winter Charlotte has brought in Bill Tulioma, Ashley Westwood, and Enzo Copetti. The club also selected Hamady Diop with the first pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Yordy Reyna, Daniel Rios, and Jordy Alcivar have all departed the club. Although they haven’t made many singings, the signings that they have made are some very promising ones that could help Charlotte FC reach the playoffs for the first time in club history.
Player of the Season: Karol Swiderski
Breakout Star: Hamady Diop
Prediction: 8th in the Eastern Conference
Chicago Fire FC
The Chicago Fire will be looking to bounce back after yet another disastrous campaign. Jhon Duran and Gabriel Slonina have both left the club for massive transfer fees, while Jhon Espinoza, Stanislav Ivanov, and Boris Sekulic have left the club for much cheaper as both Ivanov and Sekulic left on free transfers. Maren Haile-Selassie has joined the Fire on loan, while Arnaud Souquet, Jeffery Gal, Kei Kamara, and Jonathan Dean have all joined the club on permanent deals. While Chicago has some pieces, their squad simply lacks the quality that is necessary to compete in MLS as it has improved over the last few years.
Player of the Season: Xherdan Shaqiri
Breakout Star: Brian Gutierrez
Prediction: 15th in the Eastern Conference
The Columbus Crew will be looking to improve after narrowly missing the playoffs last season. The Crew have moved on from Caleb Porter, and have appointed Wilfried nancy as their new manager. They have also brought in Christain Ramirez and Jimmy Medranda. Artur, Derrick Etienne Jr, Pedro Santos, and Jonathan Mensah have all left the club. This will be a massive turnaround as many of the players who left were key pieces of the 2020 MLS Cup-winning team. While Columbus might really struggle, the duo of Lucas Zelarayan and “Cucho” Hernandez could just carry the Crew into a playoff spot.
Player of the Season: “Cucho Hernandez”
Breakout Star: Aidan Morris
Prediction: 9th in the Eastern Conference
Dc United will be desperate to improve after finishing bottom of the league in 2022. The side from the capital has brought in Mateusz Klich, Ruan, Alex Bono, Mohanad Jeahze, Pedro Santos, Tyler Miller, and Derrick Williams. Miguel Berry, Rafael Romo. David Ochoa, Tony Alfaro, Drew Skundrich, and Sofiane Djeffal have all departed the club. Ravel Morrison also looks to be heading out of the club but is in a complicated situation as DC United hasn’t terminated his contract. Martin Rodriguez will also miss the entirety of the 2023 season. Dc has made some improvements, but Wayne Rooney’s side is still a couple of years away from being truly competitive.
Player of the Season: Taxiarchis Fountas
Breakout Star: Kristian Fletcher
Prediction: 13th in the Eastern Conference
FC Cincinnati will be looking to build on a strong 2022 season. Santiago Arias, Trevor Clarke, and Marco Angulo have all joined Cincinnati on permanent deals, while Yerson Mosquera has joined the club on loan. Ronald Matarrita, Calvin Harris, and John Nelson have all left the club on permanent deals, while Harrison Robledo has left the club on loan. While Cincinatti has a very strong squad, Brenner didn’t get the move to Europe that he wanted this winter, so he might not be as motivated upon returning to Cincinatti. Brenner and Vazquez might also be sold this summer, which could leave some question marks as Cincinnati fans will be expecting to be near the top of the Eastern Conference.
Player of the Season: Luciano Acosta
Breakout Star: Marco Angulo
Prediction: 4th in the Eastern Conference
Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami will be looking to have as good of a season as they did last year when they finished 7th in the Eastern Conference. Star Striker Gonzalo Higuain has retired, while Alejandro Pozuelo and Damion Lowe have left the Herons on permanent transfers. Emerson Rodriquez has been loaned out to Santos Laguna. However, Miami has brought in Sergey Krivtsov, Franco Negri, Nicolas Stefanelli, Josef Martinez, and Jake LaCava. Rodolfo Pizarro has also returned from the club after his loan at Monterrey. Although they have made some good signings, something just seems off about Miami this offseason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they managed to replicate some of the success that they had last season. However, I think they will fall just short of making the playoffs.
Player of the Season: Josef Martinez
Breakout Star: Jake LaCava
Prediction: 10th in the Eastern Conference
Nashville SC will be looking to improve on last season’s first-round playoff exit. Nebiyou Perry, Tyler Freeman, Nick DePuy, Fafa Picault, and Laurence Wyke have all joined Nashville. Handwalla Bwana, Dave Romney, and Ake Loba have all left the club. While Nashville has reigning MLS MVP and Golden Boot winner Hany Mukhtar, Nashville lacks a true star striker and lacks star quality across the board. While Nashville has been solid in recent years, an aging backline and midfield could end up being their downfall.
Player of the Season: Hany Mukhtar
Breakout Star: Jacob Shaffelburg
Prediction: 12th in the Eastern Conference
New England Revolution
The New England Revolution will be looking to bounce back after a poor 2022 season. Gustavo Bou will be returning to the squad after his visa issues are dealt with. Edward Kizza, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Clement Diop, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, and John Bell have all left the club. The Revolution has brought in Dave Romney, Latif Blessing, and Bobby Wood, while Jozy Altidore has returned from loan. While the Revs have a good squad, the rest of the Eastern Conference does as well, and the Revolution seems a bit stale, which could be their downfall.
Player of the Season: Carles Gil
Breakout Star: Dylan Borrero
Prediction: 11th in the Eastern Conference
New York City FC
New York City FC will be going through a transition year after many key pieces have departed this offseason. Chris Closter, Sean Johnson, Heber, Maxi Moralez, Alexander Callens, and Anton Tinnerholm have all left on permanent deals, while Nicolas Acevedo has left on loan. While they have brought in Braian Cufre, Mitja Ilenic, Gabriel Segal, Matt Freese, and Tony Alfaro, NYCFC has definitely taken a step back from last season. The “Boys in Blue” look set to hold on to Santiago Rodriquez, and look set to acquire Richie Ledezma on loan as well as Lewis O’Brien on a permanent deal. NYCFC also lacks a true striker, and Talles Magno will likely be forced to play up top. While they might take a step back, NYCFC simply has too much quality to miss the playoffs.
Player of the Season: Gabriel Pereira
Breakout Star: Justin Haak
Prediction: 7th in the Eastern Conference
New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls will be looking to improve on a strong 4th-place finish in the 2022 season. The club has brought in Dante Vanzier, Cory Burke, Kyle Duncan, Elian Haddock, Peter Stroud, Elias Manoel, and Jayden Reid. They have let go of Aaron Long, Jake LaCava, Patryk Klimala, Omar Sowe, Stiven Plaza, and Caden Clark. The Red Bulls now have built a strong and young team, which could result in a very successful season.
Player of the Season: Lewis Morgan
Breakout Star: Serge Ngoma
Prediction: 2nd in the Eastern Conference
Orlando City SC
Orlando City will be looking to build on a strong 2022 season, which culminated in a US Open Cup victory. Orlando has signed Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Ramiro Enrique, Martin Ojeda, Felipe, Lucas Petrasso, and Duncan McGuire. Jake Mulraney, Benji Michel, Alexander Alvarado, Juior Urso, Ruan, Andres Perea, Joao Moutinho, Joseph Dezart, and Nicholas Gioacchini have all left the club on a permanent basis, while Jack Lynn has left on loan. While Orlando has lost some key pieces, they have brought in some potential superstars, and have quality all around the pitch. Orlando fans will have the CONCACAF Champions League to look forward to this season, although it may hinder their league results if they go far in the competition.
Player of the Season: Facundo Torres
Breakout Star: Duncan McGuire
Prediction: 3rd in the Eastern Conference
Philadelphia Union supporters, fans, and players will be expecting silverware this season after just falling short in 2022. The Union has brought in Joaquin Torres, Damion Lowe, and Andres Perea. Matt Freese, Cory Burke, and Paxten Aaronson have all departed the club. The Union has a strong and experienced squad, as well as a very good coach. It is hard to see the Union having anything but a successful season in 2023.
Player of the Season: Mikael Uhre
Breakout Star: Jack McGlynn
Prediction: 1st in the Eastern Conference (Supporters Shield Champions)
While Toronto FC had a poor 2022 season, they began to show signs of life in the second half of the season. With the Italian duo of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi leading the way, Toronto could be a threat in this year’s Eastern Conference. Toronto has brought in Brandon Servania, Sigurd Rosted, Sean Johnson, Raoul Petretta, Adama Diomande, Matt Hedges, Victor Vazquez, and Tomas Romero. While they have let go of Jesus Jimenez, Jayden Nelson, Chris Mavinga, Domenico Criscito, Quentin Westberg, Doneil Henry, Alex Bono, and Ifunanyachi Achara, Toronto still has a very strong roster.
Player of the Season: Federico Bernardeschi
Breakout Star: Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
Prediction: 6th in the Eastern Conference (MLS Cup Champions)
The “Verde and Black” will be looking to build on a breakout 2022 campaign. Will Bruin, Leo Vaisanen, Amro Tarek, Adam Lundqvist, Matt Bersano, Gyasi Zardes, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, and Sofiane Djeffal have all joined the club on permanent deals, while Emmanuel has joined them on loan. Jared Stroud, Felipe, Andrew Tarbell, Ruben Gabrielsen, and Freddy Kleemann have all left Austin on permanent deals, while Moussa Djitte and Jhohan Romana have both left on loan. Austin has a good squad, that contains plenty of depth which should help them with what could be a 60-game season as Austin are in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Player of the Season: Sebastian Driussi
Breakout Star: Daniel Pereira
Prediction: 1st in the Western Conference
The Colorado Rapids will be looking to bounce back after an unsuccessful 2022 season. Colorado has brought in Connor Ronan, Alex Gersbach, Michael Edwards, Calvin Harris, and Kevin Cabral on permanent deals, while Marko Ilic has joined on loan. Cole Bassett has also returned from his loan in the Netherlands. Gyasi Zardes and Clint Irwin have both left the club. Colorado has made some sensible transfers that have the potential to be really successful, so a return to the playoffs could very well be on the cards for the Rapids.
Player of the Season: Diego Rubio
Breakout Star: Darren Yapi
Prediction: 9th in the Western Conference
Fc Dallas will be looking to go on another playoff run after reaching the Conference Semifinals in 2022. Dallas has brought in Jesus Jimenez, Amet Korca, Geovane, Sam Junqua, Jose Mulato, and Sebastien Ibegha. However, Dallas has lost ex-captain Matt Hedges as well as Brandon Servania Kalil El Medkhar, and Franco Jara. While Dallas still has some good young pieces, they might not achieve the success that they were able to in 2022.
Player of the Season: Jesus Ferreira
Breakout Star: Tsiki Nstabeleng
Prediction: 6th in the Western Conference
The Houston Dynamo will be looking to improve in 2023, after yet another poor campaign. The Dynamo have brought in Luis Caicedo, Amine Bassi, Franco Escobar, Ivan Franco, Brad Smith, Ifunanyachi Achara, Andrew Tarbell, and Artur on permanent deals, while Djevencio van der Kust has joined on loan. Joe Corona, Adam Lundqvist, Memo Rodriguez, Darwin Quintero, Zarek Valentin, Tim Parker, Fafa Picault, and Tyler Pasher have left on permanent deals, while Matias vera and Mateo Bajamich have both left the Dynamo on loan. Ben Olsen will also take over as manager after a long stint at DC United. This year looks like it will be yet another year of transition for the Dynamo.
Player of the Season: Sebastian Ferreira
Breakout Star: Griffin Dorsey
Prediction: 13th in the Western Conference
The LA Galaxy will be looking to improve after a Western Conference Semifinals defeat to LAFC during the 2022 playoffs. The Galaxy has brought in Tyler Boyd, Memo Rodriguez, and Chris Mavinga. Julian Araujo, Carlos Harvey, Samuel Grandsir, Nick DePuy, Kevin Cabral, Victor Vazquez, Derick Williams, Jorge Villafana. A.J. DeLaGarza, Sacha Kljiestan, and Cameron Dunbar have all left the club. It is also likely that Galaxy will complete the signing of Brazilian right-back Lucas Calegari. There are also doubts about the future of DP winger Douglas Costa. While the Galaxy have made some changes, it looks like they could have a very successful season.
Player of the Season: Riqui Puig
Breakout Star: Jalen Neal
Prediction: 3rd in the Western Conference
Los Angeles FC
LAFC will have high expectations as they are the reigning MLS Cup Champions. While they are the champions, LAFC has had many changes take place this offseason. Christian Arango, Daniel Trejo, Jhegson Mendez, Latif Blessing, Sebastian Ibeagha, Tomas Romero, Franco Escobar, and Gareth Bale have all left the club. While they have brought in Timothy Tillman, Sergi Palencia, Abraham Romero, Daniel Crisostomo, Eldin Jakupovic, Aaron Long, Stipe Biuk, and Denil Maldonado, LAFC have taken a step back from last season as they lack a true striker. LAFC will be in many different competitions, so their strength in depth will be crucial, but the Black and Gold will need to sign a striker in the summer if they want to repeat as champions.
Player of the Season: Denis Bouanga
Breakout Star: Christian Torres
Prediction: 2nd in the Western Conference (US Open Cup Champions)
Minnesota United FC
After a first-round exit last season, the Loons find themselves in a very worrying situation. Star player Emanuel Reynoso has been suspended without pay after he failed to show up to preseason. If Reynoso leaves Minnesota, then the Loons could be in some real trouble. Miguel Tapias, Mikael Marques, Doneil Henry, Zarek Valentin, Clint Irwin, Joseph Rosales, and Cameron Dunbar have all joined Minnesota. Jonathan Gonzalez, Alan Benitez, Tyler Miller, and Aziel Jackson have all left the Loons over the winter. The Loons entire season revolves around the Reynoso situation, but if he leaves, then Minnesota could be in for a really ugly season.
Player of the Season: Robin Lod
Breakout Star: Bongokuhle Hlongwane
Prediction: 12th in the Western Conference
Portland Timbers FC
The Portland Timbers will be desperate to get back into the playoffs after missing out on Decision Day last season. Brazilian midfielder Evaner has joined the club, while Bill Tuiloma has left the club. The future of Eryk Williamson is in doubt, but as of now he looks set to stay. While they haven’t made many moves in the transfer window the ones that they did make are some very good ones and could be what they need to get the Timbers back into the playoffs.
Player of the Season: Evander
Breakout Star: Juan Mosquera
Prediction: 4th in the Western Conference
Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake will be looking to repeat their success from last season as they managed to sneak into the playoffs on decision day. Salt Lake has signed Carlos Gomez for a club-record transfer fee as well as Brayan Vera, and Delentz Pierre. Moses Nyeman has also joined the club on loan. Christopher Garcia, Aaron Herrera, and Bobby Wood have all left on permanent deals, while Jonathan Menendez has left the club on loan. Sergio Cordova’s loan has also expired and has since gone to Vancouver. I do not think Salt Lake has really improved, and as many teams around them have improved it is hard to see them exceeding last season’s success. However, the return of Damir Kreilach will be a bright spot for Salt Lake fans.
Player of the Season: Damir Kreilach
Breakout Star: Diego Luna
Prediction: 8th in the Western Conference
San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes will be looking to move into a new era as new manager Luchi Gonzalez takes over the team who finished bottom of last year’s Western Conference. Jonathan Mensah, Carlos Gruezo, Daniel, and Michael Baldisimo have all joined “the Quakes”. Matt Bersano Jan Gregus and Eric Remedi have all left San Jose over the winter. Star defender Nathan will miss the entirety of the 2023 season with an injury. San Jose has improved significantly but is still a year or two away from being a true force in the Western Conference.
Player of the Season: Jeremy Ebobisse
Breakout Star: Cruz Medina
Prediction: 10th in the Western Conference
Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders will be looking for a much improved 2023 season after missing the playoffs for the first time in club history during the 2022 season. The defending CONCACAF champions have signed Brazilian Striker Heber, while Eythor Bjorgolfsson, Jimmy Medranda, Sam Adeniran, Will Bruin, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez have all left the Sounders. Seattle will also have the boost of Joao Paulo’s return from injury. If Seattle can stay healthy, then there are no reasons why they shouldn’t be near the top of the Western Conference.
Player of the Season: Albert Rusnak
Breakout Star: Josh Atencio
Prediction: 5th in the Western Conference
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City is looking to improve on an injury-plagued and unsuccessful 2022 season. Robert Castellanos and Tim Leibold have both joined Kansas City, while Uri Rosell has left the club. Alan Pulido’s return from injury will feel like a new signing for SKC, and if William Agada can continue his form from last season, then Kansas City could return to the playoffs.
Player of the Season: Daniel Salloi
Breakout Star: John Pulskamp
Prediction: 7th in the Western Conference
St Louis City SC
St Louis City is the newest MLS club as 2023 will be their expansion season. The club has only signed two Designated Players and is taking a team-first approach. ST Louis is looking to play a high-pressing and attacking system similar to that of the New York Red Bulls. Some players to look out for on this side are Roman Burki, Tomas Ostrak, and Joao Klauss. St Louis simply lacks quality and is likely to struggle in their expansion season.
Player of the Season: Joao Klauss
Breakout Star: Samuel Adeniran
Prediction: 14th in the Western Conference
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
The reigning Canadian champions will be looking to return from the playoffs after missing out last season. Sergio Cordova, Yohei Takaoka, and Mathias Laborda have all joined Vancouver. Janio Bikel, Lucas Cavallini, and Marcus Godinho have all left the club. While Vancouver does have a core to build on, they seem to be a few pieces away from truly being a force in the Western Conference.
Player of the Season: Ryan Gauld
Breakout Star: Sebastian Berhalter
Prediction: 11th in the Western Conference
MVP: Sebastian Driussi
Golden Boot: Juan “Cucho” Hernandez
Top Assister: Luciano Acosta
Newcomer of the Year: Evander
Young Player of the Year: Thiago Almada