MLS 2022 Season Preview
Douglas Costa, Xherdan Shaqiri and Lorenzo Insigne are among the superstars that will light up the MLS in 2022. LA Galaxy pulled off a significant coup by signing Brazilian winger Costa from Juventus, while Swiss playmaker Shaqiri has joined Chicago Fire.
Yet the biggest move of them all will see Insigne – who recently helped lead Italy to European Championship glory – join Toronto midway through the season. Insigne is only 30 years old and still operating at the peak of his powers for a Napoli team that is currently challenging for Serie A, so it represents a shot in the arm for the league.
These incoming superstars will play alongside established MLS veterans and a growing cohort of extremely talented young Americans in what promises to be a fiercely competitive season. Read on to learn all about it.
MLS 2022 Season Details
This will be the 27th Major League Soccer season. The league has grown this year, as expansion club Charlotte FC takes it to 28 teams in total. Charlotte will go into the Eastern Conference.
The regular season gets underway on February 26 and runs until October 9. The MLS Cup Final is scheduled to take place on November 15, just 16 days before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It could therefore be a very busy year for Insigne, who will finish the campaign with Napoli, slot straight into the Toronto team and then presumably pack his bags for Doha.
Each team will play 34 matches – 17 at home and 17 away. All teams will play each conference opponent twice, along with eight cross-conference games against different opponents. The top eight teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs, with the top seed hosting the eighth seed in the first round.
New York City FC enter the 2022 season as the reigning champions after their victory over the Portland Timbers in last year’s MLS Cup final.
NYCFC continually defied the odds throughout the playoffs. They beat New England Revolution – who won the Supporters’ Shield after racking up a record-breaking points tally to finish top of the Eastern Conference – in a penalty shootout in the Conference Semifinals.
Next up, they beat a depleted Philadelphia Union team 2-1 to win the Eastern Conference. They were clear underdogs against a strong Portland team on the road, but they got the job done on a wild night in Oregon.
Taty Castellanos, winner of the 2021 MLS Golden Boot, opened the scoring in the first half. NYCFC looked on course to win the game, but Felipe Mora equalized in the dying seconds of injury time to force extra-time. The teams could not be separated, so it went to penalties, and NYCFC held their nerve.
Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper was awarded the league’s expansion franchise on December 17, 2019. He created Charlotte FC, who will share a home stadium – the Bank of America Stadium – with NFL team Carolina Panthers.
It will initially have a capacity of 40,000 for soccer games, but it could be expanded to the full 75,325 if soccer proves popular with the good people of Charlotte.
The club signed its first player in 2020, when Sergio Ruiz joined from Racing Santander. He was loaned out to Las Palmas for 18 months, but he is now in Charlotte and ready to start his MLS career.
Spanish manager Miguel Ángel Ramírez, formerly of Brazilian team Internacional, has joined as head coach, while Polish international striker Karol Świderski became the club’s first designated player. The other designated player is midfielder Jordy Alcívar, who made his first appearance for the Ecuadorian national team last year.
DraftKings Sportsbook makes Charlotte FC a +4000 outsider for MLS Cup glory in their debut season.
MLS Futures Betting
The Seattle Sounders have been installed as the preseason favorites to win the MLS Cup. They won it in 2019 and finished runners-up in 2020, but they suffered a shock early exit in last year’s playoffs when they lost on penalties to Real Salt Lake in the first round.
Star players Raúl Ruidíaz and Nicolás Lodeiro were not fit enough to start that game, having only just returned from injury, while João Paulo did not look 100% fit either, so you may be inclined to forgive Seattle for its underwhelming performance. There have been no notable outgoings, but promising Brazilian Léo Chú joined for $3 million.
DraftKings has a market leading price of +750 on the Sounders, while it is also offering +900 on the Revs. DraftKings makes Los Angeles FC the favorite to win the Cup, although all other sportsbooks have gone for Seattle. You can find a best price of +900 on LAFC at Bet365.
LAFC boosted their squad by signing Cristian Arango, Kellyn Acosta, Maxime Crépeau and Franco Escobar, plus a few others, so they will be dangerous in the west, with Carlos Vela and José Cifuentes leading the charge. The Revs recently sold star player Tajon Buchanan to Club Brugge, but they have strengthened by signing USMNT star Sebastian Lletget from Los Angeles and Jozy Altidore in attack.
NYCFC are priced at +1000 to defend their crown, while Philadelphia Union and Sporting KC are both +1600. LA Galaxy are +1800 after signing Costa, while Shaqiri’s Chicago Fire are out at +10000. Portland look interesting at +2500, while a potentially rejuvenated Toronto FC are also priced at +2500.
Week 1 Games
The season begins with Philadelphia Union hosting Minnesota United on Saturday, February 26. DraftKings has -155 on Philadelphia to win the game, which looks appealing.
LAFC begin their campaign against Colorado Rapids, while Columbus Crew take on Vancouver Whitecaps. Later in the day, we can look forward to FC Dallas vs. Toronto FC, Austin FC vs. FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution.
There are five games the following day: Orlando City vs. FC Montreal, Atlanta United vs. Sporting KC, LA Galaxy vs. NYCFC, Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders vs. Nashville. Caesars has a tempting -106 on Seattle winning that game.