The MLS is back! There are now 28 teams in Major League Soccer as Charlotte FC will play its inaugural game this Saturday against DC United. Defending champions New York City FC are among the favorites, but as we saw in last year’s playoffs, anything can happen in the knockout rounds. That’s why there aren’t hefty favorites to win the league title like you see in European domestic leagues.
The most disappointing team in 2021 was Los Angeles FC. LAFC finished ninth in the Western Conference and failed to make the postseason. Carlos Vela hasn’t been impactful as he was in 2018 and 2019 due to injury, as the team’s No. 10 has just nine goals and seven assists in the last two seasons. Vela’s contract expires this summer, casting a big cloud over this new-look team.
Bruce Arena continues to thrive in the MLS. He has led his teams to five MLS Cups and four MLS Supporters’ Shields over the course of his career, and the New England Revolution were easily the best team in the league last year. Goalkeeper Matt Turner will head to Arsenal this summer, but there is still a lot to like about the Revs. MVP Carles Gil is back alongside Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa, and Jozy Altidore is another proven scorer up top.
The Seattle Sounders have been incredibly successful during their time in the MLS. They have made the postseason in each of their 13 seasons, never finishing worse than fourth place in the Western Conference. Seattle is probably the most talented team in the league with the addition of midfielder Albert Rusnak. The Sounders have an incredibly talented group of veterans, and they are the safest bet to win the MLS Cup.
It's been a tumultuous offseason for the Portland Timbers. However, the Timbers are a great pick to win the MLS Cup at 25-1. The team was able to re-sign Sebastian Blanco to an extension, and they were 14-6-4 when he was on the pitch last season. Portland icon Diego Valeri left the club in the offseason, but last year’s Western Conference champions are largely intact. Larrys Mabiala and Diego Chara are still strong in the back, and David Ayala should help this midfield be even better.
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