Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

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Power Rankings: The 2022 Major League Soccer season begins on Saturday, February 26. That’s correct – the action resumes less than three months after the 2021 MLS Cup Final!

MLS Soccer logo with Head Coach Bruce Arena, Players Raul Ruidiaz, Ronny Deila, and Jose Cifuentes
Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

It’s easy to say that the offseason has brought around a great deal of change. To begin, six new head coaches will lead teams into the 2022 season. There have also been some high-profile player moves, notably Lorenzo Insigne’s move to Toronto FC and Xherdan Shaqiri’s move to the Chicago Fire.

Oh, and don’t forget that we’re welcoming a brand-new team to the league this year!

Given the amount of upheaval that has occurred in the last few months, I thought it would be prudent to rank each Major League Soccer team ahead of the 2022 season. I’ll begin with #28 and work my way up to the best of the crop.

Let’s jump right into my 2022 MLS power rankings.

Note: The Power Rankings are voted on by a collection of Major League Soccer soccer dot com editors, writers, and personalities. 

New York City FC

Winning the MLS Cup is an excellent method to climb to the top of the year’s first Power Rankings. An even better way to do it is to win the MLS Cup, retain the majority of your core, re-sign playmaker Maxi Moralez on a team-friendly deal, address your most pressing need by signing new DP center back Thiago Martins, and then seemingly hang on to last year’s Golden Boot presented by Audi winner, Taty Castellanos, at least until this summer. This group is excellent.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season
Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

Some may argue that voters are placing too much emphasis on Audi MLS Cup Playoffs’ success and are thus falling into the same trap as they did with the Columbus Crew last year. To that, I point out NYCFC’s fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. They also occasionally played some of the league’s most visually appealing soccer.

Seattle Sounders FC

On paper, this is the best team in Major League Soccer. When they are fully fit, the weakest link in their starting XI may be… Nouhou? Arreaga, Xavier?? Frei, Stefan??? These are players who would start and contribute to virtually any team in the league.

However, can they be completely healthy? Jordan Morris is poised to play major minutes this season, but what kind of production can we reasonably anticipate from a player coming off a second ACL tear?

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

Nico Lodeiro started in Seattle’s CCL match against Motagua, but he failed to find the field last season and is recovering from three knee operations at the age of 32. We know how fantastic these two can be; what we don’t know is how close they’ll come to being the Best XI version of themselves.

To be honest, that may not matter much as long as they can contribute above the level of replacement. Seattle acquired Albert Rusnak to the team following an 11-goal, 11-assist season with Real Salt Lake, and despite a plethora of ailments, they ended with 60 points last season. They appear to be a shoe-in to surpass that total this season.

New England Revolution

Nobody is likely to have an opinion on last year’s record-breaking Supporters’ Shield champions starting the season third. It’s probably reasonable to conclude that future estimates played a role in this.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

Matt Turner is scheduled to depart in the summer. Given New England’s record-setting number of one-goal victories last season and the fact that they surpassed their predicted point total by 20 points, losing the league’s greatest shot-stopper feels significant. Turner (and Adam Buksa) are still on the team, and they have a legitimate shot of ending the league’s CCL drought.

They’ll also be loaded when Turner departs. Tajon Buchanan has been replaced by Sebastian Lletget, and Jozy Altidore has been added as a backup. The remaining members of this group are mostly unchanged from the one that scored 73 points previous season.

Philadelphia Union

The Union finished second in the Eastern Conference last season and are approaching 2022 in just the manner in which one would expect: With overall consistency across the board and a variety of outstanding homegrown players you may or may not have heard of yet, who may or may not have been created in an underground Chester laboratory.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

However, there are two significant things to keep an eye on. To begin, Jamiro Monteiro has resigned as a DP following a tumultuous time… However, they remain two-deep at every position in their diamond-shaped midfield. This contains the league’s preseason leader in nearly every significant statistical category.

Power Rankings – PHI Aaronson stats

The other significant development is Kacper Przybylko’s departure (transfer to Chicago) and the addition of two new DP forwards. Mikael Uhre joins the club on a permanent basis from Brondby, while Julian Carranza joins on loan from Inter Miami CF. If Uhre or Carranza can elevate the No. 9 scenario a notch or two, the Union may take a significant step forward in 2021.

Nashville SC

Nashville spent the season becoming the seventh MLS team to go undefeated at home and tying the MLS record for fewest season losses. Additionally, they drew 18 times throughout the regular season and technically once more during the playoffs before dumping a couple of penalties kicks into the Delaware River.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

The situation could have been far worse. Things could have been a little bit better, and Nashville could have joined 2018 Atlanta United and 2019 LAFC in the pantheon of second-year expansion teams.

Fortunately, Nashville has improved slightly this offseason. Except for defender Alistair Johnston, almost all of the core players return this season. Nashville’s winter wrangling for what felt like the entirety of the league’s remaining GAM should equip them to replace Johnston when the appropriate player becomes available. Perhaps someone along the lines of Shaq Moore?

Additionally, they signed free agent Sean Davis, a former New York Red Bulls captain, in one of the offseason’s most underrated transactions. Davis is a ball-winner who should contribute to Nashville’s midfield being one of the most effective in the league. Everything is in place for the Coyotes/Boys in Gold/whatever we’re going to call them in the Western Conference to succeed. They’ll rack up significant points as long as the travel does not deplete them.

Colorado Rapids

The Western Conference regular-season champions lost Cole Bassett and Kellyn Acosta, will lose Auston Trusty in the summer, and did not recruit a designated player despite having three open berths. I’m going to continue harping on it since I’m not angry; I simply desired more.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

The midfield should not suffer significantly, since Mark Anthony-Kaye and Jack Price are still excellent, and they bolstered the group with the additions of Bryan Acosta and Brazilian U22 signing Max. They remain an excellent team.

This may all right itself over time, and perhaps this group will make a whole bunch of “experts” appear foolish once more. However, it appears as though everyone is acutely aware of this team’s flaws and we are all waiting for the ball to fall.

Robin Fraser is an excellent coach. Consider him with cavalry to truly propel the Rapids forward a level or two. That is also what fans fantasize about.

Portland Timbers

We’re not sure how confidence we can be in a club that spent the last two seasons significantly surpassing their predicted goal totals and is reliant on Sebastian Blanco’s health. That is not to say I believe they will be horrible. We simply lack the courage to write them in as one of the West’s premier teams in 2022.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

We are still concerned about their backline, as they have already lost goalie Steve Clark and suffered injuries to Felipe Mora, Larrys Mabiala, and Dario Zuparic.

Again, all of this might be quickly put to rest, and the world could resume mocking me for being mistaken about Portland. Indeed, that is the most likely scenario.

Atlanta United

Last year, teams with even comparable quantities of talent exposed this team’s lack of balance and connective tissue. They defeated just one team that qualified for the playoffs. One. In large part because you can get away with dribbling through inferior teams in a way that you cannot against superior teams.

An idiot's guide to Atlanta United in 2020 - Dirty South Soccer

The critical question for Atlanta is whether or not that connective tissue formed throughout Gonzalo Pineda’s complete offseason. The group remains basically unchanged, with the additions of Andrew Gutman at left defense (an objective upgrade), Ozzie Alonso in midfield (an enhancement, but for how many minutes?), and Thiago Almada (whose league-record $16 million price tag may be a heavy burden). We’ll have to wait and see if those additions, combined with some stability, result in something remarkable.

Pineda has already stated that he did not wish or have the time to come in and make significant changes last season. Atlanta are now poised to switch to a back four and play in a manner that, in its final shape, I imagine will seem very, very Sounders-like.

If Luiz Araujo lives up to his MVP potential, Josef Martinez maintains his preseason form, and Almada offers the steady production that Ezequiel Barco lacked, this squad has a chance to win trophies. However, a lot of that depends on whether Atlanta appears unified and assured during transition, or if it appears to be dribbling through a maze in order to accomplish anything.

Los Angeles Football Club

They acquired Franco Escobar, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Ilie Sanchez, Kellyn Acosta, Ryan Hollingshead, and Maxime Crepeau in a single offseason. At least four of those men are actually talented, and two of them have the potential to be effective.

For a team that had a weekly feature segment in this column last year dubbed “The Catastrophic LAFC Defensive Moment of the Week” and never ran out of content, these appear to be changes that should really, really prevent that from happening.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

Sanchez was solid last season, Acosta is Acosta, Hollingshead has been largely unmentioned for years, and Crepeau may be the most critical addition to any team this offseason. Last season, LAFC led the league in predicted goal difference but missed the playoffs. This is mostly owing to those disastrous defensive moments, which were aided by sloppy goalkeeping.

Crepeau was third in the league last season on American Soccer Analysis’ all-encompassing “goals added” per 96 minutes played measure, trailing only Andre Blake and Matt Turner. A rung behind those two, but still significantly better than LAFC’s goalkeeper.

All of these signings, notably new manager Steve Cherundolo, have the potential to dull LAFC. Additionally, they may make them far more effective. They really didn’t require much more than resting Carlos Vela, Brian Rodriguez, and Cristian Arango for an entire season and making some defensive modifications. They proceeded and (theoretically) fortified their defensive position in a way they had perhaps never done before.

Sporting Kansas City

What are we to do in the absence of Alan Pulido? This may be Khiry Shelton’s primary assignment for the year. Alternatively, new signing Nikola Vujnovic might take over. Pulido’s season-long absence, in either case, significantly lowers this team’s ceiling.

Power Rankings: Find out where your team ranks ahead of the 2022 Major League Soccer season

Naturally, it’s SKC and Peter Vermes, and the floor is, as usual, significantly higher than the norm. However, if you’re a supporter of SKC, how comfortable are you with the prospect of relying on Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi having career seasons to achieve the same level as last season?

It’s not the worst wager you could make, but it’s much easier to visualize with Pulido attracting defenders. Additionally, there are concerns regarding who starts and how effective midfielders can be. Several crucial parts are also a little on the worn side.

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