What a year in MLS.
Hany Mukhtar put up MVP-caliber numbers. Atlanta United provided far more entertainment off the field than on it. The Red Bulls made the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Union won the East. LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield. And people cared about the Power Rankings a little too much.
It was truly a year unlike any other. Except for the part where FC Cincinnati made the playoffs. That part was weird.
As always, this is not my fault. The Power Rankings presented by Sorare are voted on by a collection of MLSsoccer.com editors, writers and personalities. That group does include me, but I’m only like one-tenth of the problem here. Besides, despite my insistence and open pandering to the powers that be, the Power Rankings once again did not determine who made the playoffs this year. Maybe one day everyone will wake up and realize what needs to be done. Thanks anyway for reading this year, though.
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A Wild Decision Day as the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs are Officially Upon Us | MLS Review Show
LAFC weren’t playing for anything this weekend. Now the Supporters’ Shield winners can sit back and wait for the winner of LA and Nashville to come to them. That’s not an ideal Western Conference Semifinal draw, but having an extra week to prepare should help a little…or derail their in-game chemistry entirely, who knows really? Either way, they’ll be looking to be the first team to win the Shield and MLS Cup double since 2017 Toronto.
Previous: 1-0 loss vs. NSH | Next: 10/20 vs. TBD
The Union should probably be a little disappointed to not grab the Shield, but they still ended the year atop the Eastern Conference for the second time in three seasons and earned their fifth-straight playoff appearance. Jim Curtin and company have built a juggernaut in Philadelphia without the resources that normally accompany that kind of thing.
They’ll have a week off before facing the winner of New York and Cincinnati.
Previous: 4-0 win vs. TOR | Next: 10/20 vs. TBD
Montréal pushed the Union to the wire, but couldn’t quite catch up and earn a Round One bye. That’s not the worst news in the world though. Some folks swear by the bye being a momentum-killer. Considering both teams with a Round One bye lost in 2021, maybe there’s a point to that.
Anyway, CFM will host Orlando City in Round One. They’ve lost just once since mid-July (11W-1L-3D stretch).
Previous: 3-1 win at MIA | Next: 10/16 vs. ORL
NYCFC are riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs across all competitions. It really does seem like Campeones Cup provided some kind of spinal alignment for a team that looked totally disjointed. There is cause for concern though.
The Pigeons took care of business in Atlanta on Sunday, but Talles Magno left the game with what appeared to be a serious upper-body injury. If he can’t go for the playoffs, it’s not unfair to have major concerns about the NYCFC attack. If he’s good to go, an NYCFC team with Keaton Parks back and healthy is a genuine contender to repeat.
Previous: 2-1 win at ATL | Next: 10/17 vs. MIA
Austin have just kind of been cruising through the last part of the year. It’s totally understandable. They were locked into second place in the West for a while.
It’s probably fair to worry a bit about their ability to bring their intensity level back to full blast for the playoffs. Fortunately, I’m going to guess an absolutely insane crowd at Q2 Stadium will perk them right back up when RSL visit for Round One on Sunday.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. COL | Next: 10/16 vs. RSL
The Galaxy, entering their first home playoff game since 2016, have some momentum by going 5W-1L-5D since mid-August. There’s also this from Chicharito, who should be feeling pretty confident about his ability to impact a postseason run.
Previous: 3-1 win at HOU | Next: 10/15 vs. NSH
The Red Bulls couldn’t quite catch up to NYCFC in the final standings, but did get an encouraging performance out of Elias Manoel at striker in a 2-0 win over Charlotte. Manoel has only been around long enough to make five starts for the Red Bulls, but maybe the Gremio loanee can be a much-needed answer up top at the most critical time of the year? That’s a huge maybe, but nothing else the Red Bulls have done at striker has worked all that well either.
Previous: 2-0 win vs. CLT | Next: 10/15 vs. CIN
It got a little weird for Nashville this season. But then Dax McCarty yelled at everyone, Mukhtar went on a Golden Boot presented by Audi run and they made their way into the playoffs with relative ease.
There’s no home playoff game at GEODIS Park just yet, and the Coyotes are traveling to face a talented Galaxy team that seems to be clicking at the right time. That won’t stop plenty of people from picking them to go on a run – let’s just maybe avoid a penalty shootout like last year.
Previous: 1-0 win at LAFC | Next: 10/15 at LA
FC Dallas took care of business on Decision Day thanks to goals from Paul Arriola and Sebastian Lletget. They finished third in the West and will host Minnesota United in Round One. And they’ve played objectively decent soccer from pretty much start to finish all year and finished first in the West in goals allowed (37).
That being said, I don’t know how many people are going to pick them to win MLS Cup. Even with the kind of pieces in attack and the kind of defensive record that normally inspires that kind of thing. They’ve just never really hit the kind of high gear MLS Cup-winning sides normally have in them. They’ve just been…well, good. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ll just have to see if they have some extra juice for the playoffs. It wouldn’t be that surprising, would it?
Previous: 2-1 win vs. SKC | Next: 10/17 vs. MIN
PLAYOFF. FREAKING. CINCY.
They wasted no time mollywhopping D.C. United on Decision Day in a 5-2 win led by another Brenner hat trick and three assists and a goal from Brandon Vazquez. After three years in the wilderness, the Knifey Lions have a legitimate shot at making a deep run into the playoffs here. They’ll have a tough road going up against New York in Round One and then possibly moving on to face Philadelphia in the next round, but they clearly have the firepower to make something special happen.
Previous: 5-2 win at DC | Next: 10/15 at RBNY
Decision Day didn’t quite go how they wanted. That didn’t matter though. Because Wednesday night went perfectly.
Well, almost perfectly. The Herons clinched a playoff spot to finish off an improbable run to the postseason in what was essentially a second expansion year. But Leo Campana left that game due to injury. Fortunately, the injury seems to be minor and Campana may be ready to go for Miami’s Round One matchup at NYCFC.
Previous: 3-1 loss vs. MTL | Next: 10/17 at NYC
They made it across the finish line! They kind of slid over it face first, but they did make it.
The Loons picked up their first win in six games as they took down Vancouver, 2-0, on Decision Day and earned their fourth-straight playoff appearance. They won’t be MLS Cup favorites or anything, but who’s going to complain too much about four straight years of playoff appearances after two initial years of misery?
Previous: 2-0 win vs. VAN | Next: 10/17 at DAL
It’s never really been pretty for Orlando this year, but all that matters is they found a way into the playoffs. They have a tough, tough task going up against CF Montréal in Round One, but the good news is this comes during a rebuilding year.
The Lions made up for a heavy loss of talent and put together a year where they made the playoffs and won the US Open Cup, securing Concacaf Champions League soccer in 2023. There are plenty of other teams who haven’t handled transition nearly as gracefully. Maybe most importantly, they found a genuine star in Facundo Torres. The 22-year-old Uruguayan winger ended the regular season with nine goals and 10 assists.
Previous: 2-1 win vs. CLB | Next: 10/16 at MTL
RSL thumped Portland in a must-win game and made it into the playoffs on Decision Day for the second straight year under Pablo Mastroeni. We should all remember how the first one went (hint: 2021 Western Conference Final). It wouldn’t be all that surprising to pull off something like that again.
Ok, I mean, it would be really surprising again, but at least we’re primed for it this time.
No matter what though, it’s a tremendous accomplishment for a club that spent 2022 without Damir Kreilach and lost Albert Rusnak to a conference rival in the offseason. Full credit to a group that just hauled off at full speed for the entire season, even when things got dire.
Previous: 3-1 win vs. POR | Next: 10/16 at ATX
Columbus had two leads last week and blew both of them. If they held onto either of them, they would have made the playoffs instead of Orlando.
In related news, the Crew made a coaching change on Monday.
Previous: 2-1 loss at ORL | Next: Season complete
The Timbers came up short on Decision Day. We’ll leave it at that for right now.
Previous: 3-1 loss at RSL | Next: Season complete
The Whitecaps came agonizingly close, but fell short of a playoff spot this year. Even with the near-miss, it feels like they underperformed for good chunks of the season. As fun as it is, I’m guessing they’d much rather just skip the whole second-half comeback thing in 2023 and be a little more steady. They’ve got a CCL berth to ready for and deal with, despite the early offseason.
Previous: 2-0 loss at MIN | Next: Season complete
There’s a whole lot of reason for optimism around SKC heading into 2023. William Agada is a star and the team as a whole has thrived since his and Erik Thommy’s arrival. SKC went 6W-3L-2D with Agada getting consistent minutes and were fourth in the league in expected goal differential since his first start on July 30. The only teams better were LAFC, Philadelphia and Montréal.
There are still holes to patch up in this roster, but Sporting KC will be a heavy favorite to return to the playoffs next fall.
Previous: 2-1 loss at DAL | Next: Season complete
A ninth-place finish, 42 points and they were in the playoff race until the penultimate game of the season. That’s a pretty decent year one. Full credit to The Crown for coming a long way from “Estamos jodidos.” Now they just have to find a little more firepower this offseason to make the year two jump a serious possibility.
Previous: 2-0 loss at RBNY | Next: Season complete
Well, that’s over with. The Rapids finished 2022 with 18 fewer points than they had in 2021. I’m still not mad, but I am still disappointed.
Previous: 1-1 draw at ATX | Next: Season complete
I’m on team “Nothing else matters because Seattle won CCL in 2022.” But that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions to ask about the direction of the roster. There’s no guarantee Joao Paulo will come back at full force and injuries just seem to plague this club as a whole.
I don’t think it’s crazy to think there might be more changes this offseason than we’ve seen in a while for Seattle. But if you were going to trust any organization to pull that off and do it well, it would be the Sounders.
Previous: 2-2 draw vs. SJ | Next: Season complete
Atlanta United’s season predictably ended with going down early to NYCFC and being unable to recover. The underlying numbers this year end up looking pretty good for the Five Stripes, but thanks to shoddy goalkeeping and repeated errors on defense, they were playing catch-up far too often for those numbers to be meaningful.
Even still, 43,312 fans showed up in Atlanta to watch a meaningless game in a season without many (if any) bright spots and a whole lot of uncertainty about the future of the club. Once again, there’s a ton of work to do in Atlanta this offseason to get the on-field product to match the support off it.
Previous: 2-1 loss vs. NYC | Next: Season complete
As Bruce Arena said before last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Chicago.
Previous: 1-1 draw at CHI | Next: Season complete
That’s 11 of the last 13 seasons in the books without a playoff appearance for Chicago.
Previous: 1-1 draw vs. NE | Next: Season complete
A lot of things looked like they were heading in the right direction at the start of the year for Houston … then the team began to backslide, Hector Herrera didn’t make nearly the impact they hoped and they’re looking for a new full-time manager for the second straight offseason. The Dynamo still have some bad habits to break.
Previous: 3-1 loss vs. LA | Next: Season complete
Luchi arrives in a couple of months. Onto 2023.
Previous: 2-2 draw at SEA | Next: Season complete
A huge offseason begins in Toronto.
Previous: 4-0 loss at PHI | Next: Season complete
The 2022 season is officially over and can’t hurt you anymore.
Previous: 5-2 loss vs. CIN | Next: Season complete