A new, 27th season in the MLS has recently started. The regular season will end on October 9, after which the playoffs will begin. The final of the MLS CUP – the duel for the trophy – will take place on November 5. This is earlier than usual so that the players have enough time to prepare for the World Cup. Next, let’s take a closer look at who to follow in the new MLS season.
“New York City”
Let’s start with the current champion. At one time, many famous footballers played for New York City: Frank Lampard, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo. But the Yankees won the MLS CUP for the first time only in 2021, without having star players in the squad. Nevertheless, this was undoubtedly a success for the club, part of the City Football Group.
New York had a tense match against Portland in the tournament’s final, winning the trophy only in a penalty shootout. Now the Yankees will defend the title. New York City has already played one match in the CONCACAF Champions League in the new season, beating Costa Rican Santos 2–0. A positive start to the new year is significant, especially for the champion.
“Los Angeles Galaxy”
There is always increased attention to this club. Firstly, because he is the most titled in the MLS. LA Galaxy became the champion five times (the most) and reached the league finals four more times. Secondly, it is the most “fashionable” MLS club. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham played for him at one time.
Now Chicharito is playing there, and very well. Douglas Costa from Gremio drove up to help him, although the Brazilian is still under contract with Juventus. This club always tries to invite star players. It is not for nothing that it is called “Los Galacticos”. Galaxy is always interesting, although the team’s results have lately left much desired.
There is another “Los Angeles” in the MLS. This club is more modest than Galaxy, but it is also enjoyable. Los Angeles has never won the championship and has not even reached the finals but regularly makes the playoffs. In the 2019 season, LA passed its principal rival, Galaxy, at the quarterfinal stage.
That year there was an exciting scoring race in Los Angeles, in which Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela, well-known in Europe, participated. The first scored 31 goals for the season, and the second – 36 goals. After that season, the Swede left the MLS. The Mexican stayed in Los Angeles but is still far from the past performance. Perhaps things will go better for him in the new season.
In Europe, the success of Inter Miami is being closely monitored since David Beckham is the co-owner of this club. The club from Florida has already spent two seasons in the MLS. In its first campaign, Inter Miami did not reach the playoffs, and in the second, it was eliminated already in the qualifying round. But this is a young club that still has everything ahead of it.
Beckham is actively working to attract famous players from Europe. So Blaise Matuidi, Kieran Gibbs (a pupil of Arsenal, by the way) and Gonzalo Higuain turned out to be part of Inter Miami. The Argentine performed well last season, recording 12 goals scored. Although in Europe he scored more. Phil Neville trains these guys. Inter Miami is a young, ambitious project, the development of which is becoming more interesting to watch every season.
“Chicago Fire” has a certain weight. In the late 90s, this club became the champion and twice reached the tournament’s final. But recently, things have not been going well for the team. As a result, since 2017, she has not entered the playoffs. In Europe, “Chicago Fire” is known because, at one time, its colours were defended by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Recently, the team was replenished with Jerdan Shaqiri.
The Swiss moved from Lyon for 7 million euros. Perhaps he will help the team retake high places in the regular season. Moving to the MLS will help Shaqiri himself. After Stoke City, the footballer received little playing time. In Chicago, such a Swiss is not in danger – there, he will be the team’s main star.
The Canadian club has authority in the MLS. In 2016 and 2019, Toronto reached the league finals, and in 2017 became the champion. An essential factor in these successes was Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian spent four years at Toronto FC and helped the club win the league title. However, the Canadians failed last season, finishing 13th out of 14 in the regular Eastern Conference.
Toronto will be determined to fix the situation in the 2022 campaign. In addition, the current captain of Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne, will join the team in the summer. With a player of this calibre, the Canadians will have chances for high places both in the regular season and in the playoffs. However, a lot will also depend on how the team spends the first half of the season.
This is a new club from North Carolina, which will make its debut in the elite division in a few days. After that, Charlotte will be a member of the Eastern Conference. The MLS newcomer will play his first match on the night of February 27 against an experienced opponent in the face of DC United from Washington. Charlotte could have joined the elite division earlier, but its acceptance into the “family” was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of course, the hype around this club will not be the same as, for example, around Inter Miami when it first appeared. However, a new club is always attractive. Moreover, this is a surprise factor for the entire league since no one knows what to expect from a rookie — another intrigue for starting the new season in the MLS.