There has been a ton of interesting soccer the last several months. The USMNT finished up a successful campaign to qualify for the WC in Qatar. Then had two terrific friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay and finished up winning their two CONCACAF Nations League Matches. Then the USMNT U-20 team won the CONCACAF U-20 tournament qualifying them for both next summers U-20 WC and the 2024 Olympics. And not to be outdone the USWNT just finished a great run capturing the CONCACAF Women’s Championship last night with a 1-0 win over Canada. So besides winning the trophy they also qualified for the 2024 Olympics. Of particular note, the US Women have not allowed a goal in Olympic Qualifying since 2010!!

And thats just here domestically. UEFA Nations League group play started back in June and the UEFA Women’s Euros 2022 has completed group stage play and the quarter-finals start tomorrow. Oh and then for fans of South American soccer, the CONMEBOL Women’s Copa America is ongoing as well.

So with all that it’s been a pretty filled up soccer schedule but if that’s all you have been watching then you have been missing out on some good stuff and that’s the current MLS season. Lots happening in our domestic league including some really surprises so far. But before we take a look at how each team has done at what is basically the midpoint lets take a look at some interesting news from around the leauge.

Summer Transfer Window

The official FIFA transfer windows are always an interesting time as teams look to sign players to help them down the road, offload players who may no longer fit in their plans, or to simple cash out on the increased value of a player to parlay that money back into other needs (or perhaps the owners back pocket). So lets look at some of the big moves thus far.

  1. Matt Turner – The New England Revolutions keeper was actually transferred during the winter window but give till the summer to actually move to Arsenal. Giving the Revs a chance to find their keeper replacement and as a way to let Turner continue to get matches once the EPL season had ended. Turner has made the move and has actually started two preseason matches for Arsenal thus far. Its hoped that he will get enough minutes between spot EPL starts and Arsenal’s various Cup competitions to keep him fresh and ready to go for the USMNT in November.
  2. Gabriel Slonina – The Chicago Fire keeper (pictured above) is currently second for the MLS lead in clean sheets with 9 and has signed his personal agreement with Chelsea. Chelsea and the Fire are working the final transfer details to include the initial transfer fee, any follow-on transfer fees, and most importantly the actual club situation. The prevailing thinking is that Chelsea will subsequently send Gaga back to the Fire on loan for the remainder of the season and perhaps next season as well. This will be interesting to follow as the Fire have another young stud keeper in Chris Brady who needs to see the field. Brady won the Golden Glove award at the recent CONCACAF U-20 Championship and bears watching.
  3. Gareth Bale – The Real Madrid forward has transferred to LAFC after 9 seasons with Real where he won 3 La Liga titles and 5 UCL titles. That’s a lot of hardware and its what Bale does….wins. His decision to go to LA over a European club was pretty straight forward. First, he would immediately being back to playing where he would have not been playing matches in Europe until early August. Secondly (and this may have been the big driver) with the MLS Cup being on November 5th, even if LAFC advance that far, that would give him two full weeks to prepare for Wales’ first WC match against the US on November 21st. Had he gong to a European team he would have have but one week to get ready. In the meantime he’s going to bolster LA’s run this summer no doubt.
  4. Shaq Moore – Tenerife (La Liga 2) defender has transferred to Nashville FC. This will put Moore alongside USMNT teammate, Walker Zimmerman, and ensure that the stout defenses Nashville fans have some to love stays strong. In fact their defense, while still good, has not been up to the same level as the past few seasons. Perhaps Moore can reignite the fire?
  5. Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus (and Italian National Team) center back has also joined LAFC. His experience and quality in the back is a huge boost to LA’s shot at the Audi Cup this fall. He got his first 60 minutes as he started Sunday in LA’s 2-1 win on the road at Nashville and is quality showed immediately completing 87% of his passes (one key pass) and 5 accurate long balls while stuffing the Nashville attack.
  6. Numerous other transfers have been done but the biggest outstanding potential is for Uruguay striker Luis Suarez. He has numerous offers from a handful of MLS teams and seems to be strongly considering and MLS side much for the same reason as Bale chose LA. Best time to prep for Qatar. You can keep an eye on all the MLS transfer news here.

Coaching Changes

As with all sports its not unusual for teams to make early to mid-season changes to their coach to try and turn things around. There have been 5 changes thus for as follows:

  1. San Jose Earthquakes fired Matias Almeyda on April 18th and named Alex Covelo as interim head coach.
  2. D.C. United fired Herman Losada on April 20th and named Chad Ashton as interim head coach.
  3. Charlotte FC fired Miguel Angel Ramirez on May 31 and Christian Lattanzio interim head coach.
  4. NYCFC fired Ronny Deila on June 12 naming Nick Cushing interim head coach.
  5. Then the biggest of all. On July 13, DC named Wayne Rooney as their new head coach. And he immediately went to work altering their formation and tactics. In fact is in contact with former teammate Jesse Lingard for a potential transfer to DC. Keep and eye on where United heads the next several weeks. It probably won’t matter this season but next season could be a turnaround?

Ok that’s what’s been happening around the league now lets did into the actual clubs and how they are fairing this far compared to the preseason expectations. You can check out the season preview here for a refresher:

Eastern Conference

Atlanta FC:

2022 Projection – 4th

2022 Current Standings – 11th

Atlanta have had multiple issues thus far. Mostly defensively but the biggest problem has been their play on the road. Thus far a meager 1-2-6 (W-D-L) isn’t going to cut it. They are only 3 spots off the playoff cutline and they do have a game in hand. They have a legit shot to make the playoffs but I don’t see them finishing in the top 4.

CF Montreal:

2022 Projection – 5th

2022 Current Standings – 4th

Montreal’s efforts to build a culture of winning is paying off and they have been without one of their best players, Djorde Mihailovic, has been out with an ankle injury since late May. Prior to being injured many had him as a strong candidate for the MLS MVP. Well the good news is he’s back and looked excellent in his first match back on the field. If he regains his form they should finish in the playoff mix and perhaps a top 4 slot.

Charlotte FC:

2022 Projection – 14th

2022 Current Standings – 8th

Surprisingly enough they actually sit 8th in the conference mostly by being really tough at home having gone 7-0-3. Their fan base has been enthusiastic and strongly supporting them which has boosted their play for sure. But they are not the same team on the road (1-2-8). Expect them to slide a bit the second half but the future does look bright in the Queen City.

Chicago Fire:

2022 Projection – 10th

2022 Current Standings – 12th

The bottom line in Chicago is that they just don’t have enough in the attack to hang. While they have some solid players in the back and a terrific young keeper in Slonina, you still have to score more than our opponent to win. They don’t. Don’t expect to see them come the playoffs.

Columbus Crew:

2022 Projection – 7th

2022 Current Standings – 6th

Playing about as expected but perhaps a bit stronger in the attack than anticipated. Their speed of play issue from last season has improved and they are just overall better front to back. They are well in the playoff hunt and have a game at hand to boot (see what I did there?). Look for them this fall.

D.C. United:

2022 Projection – 11th

2022 Current Standings – 14th

Ouch but just not much has gone right in DC thus far. As predicted prior to the season losing Paul Arriola and Kevin Paredes has hurt. Best DC fans can do is hope that bringing Rooney back to coach will bring a new mindset and direction for the future. It won’t happen overnight.

FC Cincinnati:

2022 Projection– 13th (move up only because of a newcomer)

2022 Current Standings – 7th

One of the pleasant surprises this far. Their play has been much improved overall, they seem to be behind their coach and his approach, and they like to win. They are a pretty similar team at home as on the road which tends to help down the stretch. But I just don’t think they have quite the horses in the stable to keep a playoff spot. Time will tell.

Inter Miami CF:

2022 Projection – 12th

2022 Current Standings – 9th

They sit just 2 points out of the playoffs but with a game in hand over Cinncy. Their issue is the road having been an awful 1-2-6. Unless you can secure home field advantage for the playoff you need to have some ability to win on the road. They don’t and I think that will cause them to fall short of the playoffs in the first place.

New England Revolution:

2022 Projection – 3rd. Still a strong team but they lost two big horses.

2022 Current Standings – 10th

The worry prior to the season was that losing Turner and Tajon Buchanan would be a problem but that they hoped the signings of Sebastian Lleget, Jozy Altiodore, and Omar Gonzalez would help offset that. Wrong. Two top flight players replace by aging out ex-stars usually doesn’t work out as you might hope. They still have plenty of talent but they are clearly going to miss Turner as none of the other keepers have done much. They have a shot to make the playoffs but its going to be a tough road the rest of the way.

New York City FC:

2022 Projection – 2nd

2022 Current Standings – 2nd

The reigning Cup champions are having another terrific year. They lead the conference in goals scored and are tied for the lead league in differential. They will be there come the playoffs. The question will be how deep a run will they make? Philadelphia is playing very well right now and the West looks tough again, especially LAFC.

New York Red Bull:

2022 Projection – 9th

2022 Current Standings – 3rd

Another of the surprises. The Red Bull have stuck to who they have become. And if anything they have gotten better at it. They continue to play aggressive attacking soccer but the difference this year is that they have found the way to do so while not giving up as many goals on the other end. A plus 8 differential so far has them sitting pretty. They will be there come the playoffs. RB fans hope they can sustain a top 4 finish. I think they can!

Orlando City SC:

2022 Projection – 6th

2022 Current Standings – 5h

Right on track for another playoff run this fall. The best thing they have going for them (beyond one of the nicest soccer venues I have ever been in) is that they are just solid on the road, in fact they have a slight winning record (3-6-2). Things look good for the boys in purple.

Philadelphia Union:

2022 – 1st

Current Standings – 1st

One of the preseason nods to the Union was their ability to continue to develop young players. Seems like everytime they develop a budding star (think Brenden Aaronson who went from the Union to Austrian club Salzuburg to Leeds in the EPL staring this fall) they seem to just find another gem. In this case it just might be his little brother. Paxton Aaronson. Paxton hasn’t played much yet this season but much of that was that he was away on duty with the U-20s. How did he do in that tournament? Not much. Just won the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament awards. For those who didn’t see much of that tournament he was good. Really good. Expect to see more of him on the Union field the rest of the way and don’t be surprised if they finish atop the East. Now the bad news for Union fans. Don’t get too excited about Paxton. He’s going to move sooner than later. Next man up!

Toronto FC:

2022 Projection – 8th

2022 Current Standings – 13th

They stink and there is no sugar coating this. Their defense is terrible having allowed 39 goals “good” for 3rd worst in the league. The question isn’t what can they do to fix this the rest of the way. This is a lost season. The question is really what does the future hold? They need some serious changes up north. Remember this is a team that won the Audi Cup in 2017 and took second in 2019. How the mighty have fallen.

Western Conference

Austin FC:

2022 Projection – 12th

2022 Current Standings – 2nd

No that wasn’t a misprint. They are second in the west and have are tied with the league best goal differential at +18. Turns out that signing Norwegian National Team center back Ruben Gabrielsen was exactly what they needed. He has made such a difference parked in the middle of the back. But the biggest surprise of all may be that they LEAD the league in goals scored with 42. Who saw that coming? They are lead by Argentinian forward Sebastian Driussi with 11 good for 3rd in the league. They have been very good at home (5-3-1) and almost as good on the road (7-2-3). And their home heavy schedule favors them the rest of the way. Will they take the top spot? I don’t think they have quite enough but they should finish top 4 and that would be a tremendous achievement.

Colorado Rapids:

2022 Projection – 4th

2022 Current Standings – 12th

Another of the 2022 surprises. Unfortunately for Rapids fans its a surprise in the wrong direction. Nobody expected them to finish 2nd in the West like last year but nobody saw a fall this big either. The reasons are many but the biggest is probably they play away from the altitude in Denver. They have yet to win a road match (0-3-6). In fact they have earned the fewest road point of an team in the league. Now I don’t think that will continue but they have dug themselves a pretty big hole to dig out of. They are only 3 points shy of the playoffs right now but if they don’t find some major improvements come November they may still be digging.

FC Dallas:

2022 Projection – 10th

2022 Current Standings – 6h

The concern preseason with Dallas was would Jesus Ferreira be able to replace the goal scoring of departed super kid Ricardo Pepi. Well the answer is yes. In spades. Jesus has found the next 11 times and is now listed as atop the depth chart for the USMNT at the #9. Dallas has a solid chance to be in the playoffs come this fall but they do need to find a bit more on the road.

Houston Dynamo FC:

2022 – 14th

2022 Current Standings – 11th

A bit better thus far than predicted sitting just 2 points out of the playoffs and they actually have 2 games in hand. I think the problem for the Dynamo is that there are a couple of teams ahead of them that are also currently short of the playoffs that probably will keep them short (Portland and Seattle).

Los Angeles Galaxy:

2022 Projection – 8th

2022 Current Standings – 7th

Playing right about as expected. Score some but give up about the same. They are probably going to have the same problem as Houston. Portland and Seattle are sitting right behind them.

Los Angeles FC:

2022 Projection – 5th

2022 Current Standings – 1st

One of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. LAFC has always been a great scoring team. Their problem has always been at the other end of the field. Well not this year? While still scoring (40 goals good for 2nd in the league) they have only allowed 22 (good for 3rd in the league). And they just brought in 2 studs in Chiellini and Bale. They look to be the best overall team in the West and it could come down to them vs the Union for the Cup. What do they say about defense wins championships?

Minnesota United:

2022 Projection – 7th

2022 Current Standings – 4th

A bit of a mild surprise here. Expected to make the playoffs, albeit near the bottom, they are some pretty good all around soccer. Don’t score a ton but allow even fewer. I think they have sustaining power to finish in the playoffs but not sure they have enough to stay top 4?

Nashville SC:

2022 Projection – 2nd

2022 Current Standings – 5th

Switching conferences may have had a bit more impact than anticipated. They are still strong defensively but they don’t seem to have the same mojo in the back that they have the last few years. Perhaps bringing Moore in will help get them back. They still have plenty of talent and will be there come the fall. Not sure they have a deep run in them though with the way LAFC and Austin are looking.

Portland Timbers:

2022 Prediction – 9th

Current Standings – 8th

A bit of a drop was expected and that’s about what we have seen. Age may be a factor as suggested. The question the rest of the way is whether that experience can get them into the playoffs one more time or if age is just going to catch up to them the rest of the summer? But they have gone 3-2-0 in their last 5. A solid stretch for sure. If they manage to bring in Columbian defender Juan David Mosquero that would improve their back line and give them another set of young legs. Interesting to watch the Timbers the rest of the way.

Real Salt Lake:

2022 Projection – 11th

2022 Current Standings – 3rd

Who are these guys and what have you done with my RSL team? What a surprise they way they have improved. Still just so-so in goal differential but here’s the thing. They do not lose at home (7-3-0). They need to bolster their road efforts a bit (2-3-6) if they want to stay in the hunt for a top 4 slot but currently sitting 6 points to the good in the playoff cut line things are looking up for RSL fans.

San Jose Earthquakes:

2022 Projection – 13th

Current Standings – 13th

Just as predicted. Just not good enough especially on defense having allowed a league worst 41 goals. Ok not league worst, tied for league worst. But lets not spilt hairs. They have a lot of work to do and unfortunately for Quakies fans it won’t happen this season. See you next year.

Seattle Sounders:

2022 Projection – 1st

2022 Current Standings – 8th

Another surprise in the wrong direction. Recall this team won the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this year. First MLS team to do so under the current format. But they have just looked flat, tired, and uninspired of late. They have lost three straight matches and have been held scoreless in all three. They have some injury woes for sure but that doesn’t explain all of this mess. Still I think they have enough talent and solid coaching to inch their way back into the playoffs But its going to be close. What they have going for them is that they have always been a better second half team. Well they have 14 matches left to get it done.

Sporting Kansas City:

2022 Prediction – 3rd

2022 Current Standings – 14th

Probably the biggest bad surprise of the season. The perennial solid defensive side have faltered and badly, They sit bottom 5 in goals allowed. They sit 5 points below the cut line and do have a game in hand. However, when you are looking up at everybody else its hard to see a picture at the end that’s very pretty.

Vancouver Whitecaps:

2022 Projection – 6th

2022 Current Standings – 10th

Their position being just a sinlge point out of the playoffs is a bit misleading. They have played one more match than most teams but most telling is their goal differential. At -11 its the second worst in the West. After a strong second half last year had them in the playoffs, Caps fans were excited for this season. Now much of that has worn off and they look to be back to the loveable losers once again.

Lots to watch for and root for the rest of the way but the bottom line right now is that this looks like a 4 team race between the Union, NYCFC, LAFC, and Austin. If I was to handicap the final today I’d say the Union against LAFC with the final being a really close one.

Steve Birrer
Steve Birrer

Soccer Analyst

Steve is an avid fan of all things soccer and the O’s. Originally from the west, he grew up in the Baltimore area. He returned to the west for college where he earned a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University and spent 36 years working at the Idaho National Laboratory prior to retiring in 2013. It was during his school years in Baltimore where he learned to play soccer and that developed into a life long passion. He played competitively for over 40 years and was a four year starting goalkeeper at MSU. He also coached and refereed in the Idaho premier soccer and High School programs for many years.

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