Limiting this to 27 things just felt repressive for 2022. We have miles of open road in front of us in all directions, so why put restrictor plates on this Lamborghini of weird?
Let’s be real, I still probably missed some stuff. But I promise I did my best.
Here are 30 beautifully strange events from the year that was in the world’s most beautifully strange league.
It’s always good to be straightforward and let people know exactly what’s happening.
“Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the tacos!” - Rob Stone
FC Dallas’ giant taco became an icon of the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, then giant taco eater Ivan Velazquez got a moment to share his thoughts on the question everyone wanted to ask: Why? Apparently, Ivan was hungry enough to attempt the work of three to four people.
All of it. The whole thing. What a damn game.
Experience MLS Cup 2022!
As exciting as Gareth Bale’s 128th-minute equalizer was, it felt like he could have done more with the celebration. Maybe he should have taken notes from a cross-city rival.
Or maybe just his own teammate?
Orlando City SC won this year’s US Open Cup final over USL Championship side Sacramento Republic FC. It was a deserved 3-0 result for their first MLS-era trophy and booked them a 2023 Concacaf Champions League spot.
Beforehand, everything was totally normal and super not weird at all…
Once Sacramento arrived in Orlando, they opted to practice at Central Winds Park, a public park in Winter Springs, Florida. It just so happened that some other folks were also at the park and looking to see what a USL team looks like up close.
I mean… public park, I guess? In the end, the incident probably didn’t matter much. But Sacramento’s improbable run and their day out at the park will live on in American soccer lore forever.
NYCFC put together so many excellent performances on their way to winning MLS Cup 2021. It was a run extremely worthy of celebration. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything but giggle at their teeny tiny banner at Yankee Stadium.
Gotta imagine that, after this, they’ve already begun construction on a record-breaking-sized banner for their new stadium in Queens. Like, it feels possible that the entire outside of the stadium will just be covered in banner.
Dax McCarty is generally known as one of the most down-to-earth and relaxed guys in the league. But on one particular occasion, he didn’t quite live up to that reputation and got a not-so-great red card when Nashville visited RSL.
Dax losing his cool (he apologized after in a very sincere way) was surprising enough to make this list anyway. But it wouldn’t be MLS if a weird event didn’t somehow get weirder the more you look at it, right? The very good dog in the background presumably got a very good story to tell.
In the span of a few weeks this summer, Toronto put together what would have been the most impressive Secondary Transfer Window of the year if LAFC hadn’t gone full LAFC. They brought in Lorenzo Insigne as planned, but then pulled Federico Bernardeschi, Domenico Criscito and Mark-Anthony Kaye into the fold as well.
It seemed like a handful of outstanding moves on paper. Then we finally got to see it all on the field and, well…
WATCH: Bernardeschi, Insigne spark dreamland result on Toronto FC debuts
For one glorious half, they looked like all of their problems had been solved and we were about to see a truly transcendent second half of the season.
Then Kaye and Jonathan Osorio got hurt, the defense still stunk and they finished 13th in the Eastern Conference. It’s rough out here, y’all. You do have to applaud Toronto for giving us a unique, but effective entry into the league’s roster-building strategies though.
If you thought using Transfermarkt was unique… St. Louis CITY SC sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel would like a word.
On July 9, NYCFC became the first club in MLS history to be awarded three penalty kicks in the same match. All three came in the first half against New England. Totally normal soccer things.
WATCH: NYCFC is the first team to be awarded three penalty kicks in a single MLS match
Former SKC midfielder Jose Mauri had the most efficient season of any MLS player ever. Mauri began his season as a halftime substitute in their opening-day loss at Atlanta. Just 27 minutes later, Peter Vermes subbed him off for the last time. SKC and Mauri agreed to mutually terminate Mauri’s contract a couple of days later. A performance for the ages and a reminder that you’re actually probably doing pretty ok at your job.
El Brujo forever and ever, amen.
But Trainy McTrainface lives eternal.
McTrainface held his own, but one mascot truly stole the show this season.
Shortly after Tom’s on-the-ground report (Pulitzer, please), we discovered our tiny-handed soccer ball king had been dubbed “Sir Minty.” It’s unclear how he gained knighthood but we can only assume that some dark pasts are better left unknown. Even more frightening than his air of mystery though is his apparent ability to become a kaiju at any moment.
Over time, we came to love Sir Minty. In small part because we got to see his softer side and in a much, much larger part because we’re afraid to find out what happens if he’s ever upset. Please remember to mark your door with Bojangles gravy every solstice and generally keep your head on a swivel. It’s the only way to ensure safety.
Your 2022 MLS Comeback Player of the Year is, of course, Gonzalo Higuaín. You probably know his story of triumph by now. But in case you forgot: Higuaín fought his way through the hardship of scoring 12 goals with nine assists in 2,457 minutes in 2021 to score 16 times with three assists in 1,750 minutes in 2022. I’m not crying, you’re crying (for the record: his official ballot cites very valid family and injury-related reasons).
Then Higuaín’s legendary career ended in a cold rainstorm at a baseball field. Just as he imagined.
For a second there, it seemed like the entire season might be made entirely out of Yimmi Chara overhead kicks.
Arcade game-type stuff.
WATCH: Benji Kikanovic finally scores CRAZY 5-shot sequence for San Jose
I would not recommend this.
I saw it happen, I swear.
Paul Rushing, the Philadelphia Union’s trainer and a former member of the United States Navy, instantly became a Philly icon when he did a very Philly thing.
Rushing was then suspended for two games and Jose Martinez was fined after the incident for a, um, gesture toward NYCFC players.
The Donnybrook of the Year goes to… (but seriously guys, wtf?)
Miguel Angel Ramirez didn’t last long as Charlotte FC’s head coach. But he’ll forever be remembered for his blunt assessment of their roster.
There was… a lot to take in with Atlanta this year, including maybe the worst injury luck of any team in MLS history. Brooks Lennon slipping on a mat before the Toronto away game and missing two months of soccer comes to mind, in particular.
However, the 2022 Atlanta United season really launched itself into the history books when Josef Martinez reportedly launched a table of chicken and rice across the ATLUTD locker room. Atlanta suspended Josef for one game and his future with the club remains unknown.
Then, in a dramatic turn of events, Josef scored the AT&T 5G Goal of the Year with a remarkably casual bicycle kick. As one does.
WATCH: Is this Josef Martínez's greatest goal ever? All hail The King!
I feel this one on a deeply personal level. After New England gave up a late 2-0 lead to RSL in one of the snowiest matches of the year, Carles Gil had some thoughts about the weather.
The high in Gil’s hometown of Valencia, Spain was 77 degrees Fahrenheit when I wrote this.
Remember when the USMNT played a World Cup qualifier in Minnesota in February, then a whole bunch of conspiracy theories started flying around that then-Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner got frostbite from playing in sub-zero weather?
It’s a “kinda depends on who you ask” type of situation, though things undeniably got weird.
Anyway, this may or may not have cost New England a chance at a CCL title after Turner’s absence helped lead to the Revs blowing a 3-0 lead in the second leg of their quarterfinal matchup with Liga MX’s Pumas. Unless it didn’t?
I still don’t know what’s real here. But full credit to the internet for at least being partially right. Never count out the internet.
Surely, there’s a different way to do this?
Ok, yeah, I’m cheating a bit here. But Daryl Dike, genuinely an exceptionally bright individual, using dishwashing soap in his laundry for months upon arriving at West Brom from Orlando City, is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
But laminated paper lives forever.
What a time to be alive.