MLS Season Predictions 2022 by Chris Ashley
Written by Chris Ashley
The Major League Soccer season kicks off this weekend. And even though I predicted FC Cincinnati to make the playoffs in 2021, I am being allowed to try my hand at, once again, predicting the outcomes of the 2022 MLS Season. For each category, I will list my prediction, and to hedge a bit, will also give you who I think will just miss the cut in each category. We will start with the end of season awards and then dive into the team performance categories.
Coach of the Year
My 2022 Prediction: Gary Smith (Nashville SC)
If it’s not them: Greg Vanney (LA Galaxy)
The Why: As you will quickly see moving through all of these categories, I think Nashville SC is destined to build upon the success of 2021. If they reach the marks I am expecting, Gary Smith should finally be recognized for the incredible job he has done in the Music City.
Goalkeeper of the Year
My 2022 Prediction: Joe Willis (Nashville SC)
If it’s not them: Sean Johnson (NYC FC)
The Why: Joe Willis has been one of the best keepers in MLS for the last several years. With 2021 winner Matt Turner (New England Revolution) set to join Arsenal in the summer, I think this award is Joe’s to lose. That being said, Sean Johnson came up HUGE in the playoffs in 2021, leading NYC to their first MLS Cup. Johnson will give Willis a run for his money in 2022.
Newcomer of the Year
My 2022 Prediction: Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire)
If it’s not them: Thiago Almada (Atlanta United)
The Why: There is a lot of hype surrounding Lorenzo Insigne’s arrival in Toronto this summer. If he were set to be here for the entire season, he would easily be the frontrunner here. It was also hard to leave Facundo Torres off of this list. However, I think that the two guys I have in the running are the two set to elevate their teams the most. While I do not see Chicago making the playoffs (spoiler alert), I think the excitement around Shaqiri, paired with the performances I expect to see from him, make him the man to beat here.
Comeback Player of the Year
My 2022 Prediction: Carlos Vela (LAFC)
If it’s not them: Nico Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders)
The Why: I wanted to give the nod to Lodeiro here. And, honestly, I think he can win this. But I am just not confident that the 32 year old can stay healthy all year, or even return to the explosive form he has had in the past. I feel much better about Vela’s ability to bounce back after an injury-filled 2021.
Defensive Player of the Year
My 2022 Prediction: Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)
If it’s not them: Thiago Martins (NYC FC)
The Why: Miles Robinson is one of the best defenders in Major League Soccer. Miles Robinson is one of the best defenders in the USMNT player pool. Miles Robinson is on-track to go to Europe for stupid money. The question is, when? Does he go this summer? If so, he won’t win this award. But my suspicion is that Atlanta will convince him to stay for the season with the promise to sell him next winter. So, he’s going to be on a mission to earn a big paycheck.
My 2022 Prediction: Cristian Arango (LAFC)
If it’s not them: Chicharito (LA Galaxy)
The Why: Without question, I think there will be plenty of goals scored in Los Angeles this season. The strikers for both the Galaxy and LAFC will be scoring machines. My biggest question in separating the two is whether or not Chicharito plays the entire season. Add to that the fact that Arango scored 14 goals in 2021 (Golden Boot Winner Taty Castellanos scored 19) despite only joining the team in August, and I think he could have a record-setting season in 2022.
Most Valuable Player
My 2022 Prediction: Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)
If it’s not them: Luiz Araujo (Atlanta United)
The Why: The thing I look for when thinking about my MVP pick is the most explosive player on one of the top teams in the league. Enter Mukhtar. Hany is known to blow past defenders and has a swag about him that is reserved for the best of the best. And I expect Nashville to be one of the best teams in the league this season. If Atlanta returns to form under Gonzalo Pineda this year, I would not be surprised to see Araujo in that mix as well.
Now let’s dive into our predictions for how the teams will finish.
My 2022 Prediction: FC Cincinnati
If it’s not them: Houston Dynamo
The Why: Listen. I made the mistake last year of being duped by Cincinnati’s roster. I PICKED THEM TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS. I will not fall into this trap again. Do I think Cincinnati is the worst team on paper? No. Will I pick someone else to be the wooden spoon until proven otherwise? Also, no.
My 2022 Prediction: Seattle Sounders
If it’s not them: NYC FC
The Why: The MLS season is long. The teams that win the supporters’ shield are typically the deepest teams in the league. They are the teams that can grind out results even with some of their best XI injured or being rested. Last season, it felt like Seattle was without so many of their key players for the majority of the year and they still made an impressive run to the playoffs. They have only gotten deeper. And it seems unlikely that they will be without so many key pieces this season. Give me the Sounders.
US Open Cup Champions
My 2022 Prediction: Nashville SC
If it’s not them: New England Revolution
The Why: Nashville is too good to not win some hardware this season. But with Major League Soccer once again yo-yoing them with another conference switch, they will have to log the most travel miles for the regular season. But US Open Cup is different. They may not have to travel nearly as far for these matchups. And if they can get some good luck and draw some home matches, they should be in great shape.
Western Conference Playoff Teams (alphabetical order)
Sporting Kansas City
Eastern Conference Playoff Teams (alphabetical order)
New England Revolution
New York City FC
Western Conference Finals
My 2022 Prediction: Seattle Sounders over Nashville SC
The Why: I wish I was confident enough to pick Nashville to make it to MLS Cup. But the travel is going to wear on them. And Seattle’s depth will be their greatest asset. Our fellow southern soccer friends will fall just short of the final this year.
Eastern Conference Finals
My 2022 Prediction: Atlanta United over New York City FC
The Why: Before you grab your pitchforks, hear me out. Atlanta may have finally figured out the train wreck that has been the past few seasons. Gonzalo Pineda may not have been the biggest name hire, but I think he has the potential to be a great coach in this league for many years. This team also has the most expensive roster in the league, and the expectations are there for them to live up to them.
My 2022 Prediction: Seattle Sounders over Atlanta United
The Why: Seattle is the cream of the crop in MLS this year. And while I hate to go chalk here, I have to play to odds. Seattle doesn’t just have depth and talent, they are a team that knows how to perform when the post-season comes around. It is going to be extremely hard for anyone to knock them off of their perch this season.
Well, there you have it. My 2022 MLS Predictions that are sure to be wrong. Want to yell and shake your fist at me? Hit me up in slack! I’ve got thick skin.