Philadelphia looks to build on MLS success in the East
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 19-5-10, 1st the East, lost in the MLS Cup final to LAFC.
COACH: Jim Curtin.
KEY PLAYERS: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Alejandro Bedoya.
OUTLOOK: The Union made it all the way to the MLS Cup final but fell to champion LAFC on penalties. Jim Curtin won MLS Coach of the Year honors, while Andre Blake won Goalkeeper of the Year. The team has not changed all that much in the offseason, but the Union sold Paxten Aaronson to Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Bundesliga, and acquired attacking midfielder Joaquín Torres in a trade with Montreal. Philadelphia is likely to use nearly the same starting lineup as last season.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 20-9-5, 2nd in the East, lost in the conference semifinal to NYCFC.
COACH: Hernan Losada.
KEY PLAYERS: Romell Quioto, Kei Kamara, Victor Wanyama.
OUTLOOK: Montreal lost coach Wilfried Nancy, who took over in Columbus, and hired Hernan Losada, who was dismissed by D.C. United early last year. Montreal had a big sale in the offseason, sending defender Alistair Johnston to Scottish team Celtic, midfielder Djordje Mihailovic to AZ Alkmaar in Holland and midfielder Ismael Kone to Watford in the English second division. The team brought in Aaron Herrera from Salt Lake and George Campbell from Atlanta. One thing to watch: Kei Kamara has said he's looking to land elsewhere but so far he's still on the roster.
NEW YORK CITY FC
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 16-11-7, 3rd in the East, lost in the conference final to Philadelphia.
COACH: Nick Cushing.
KEY PLAYERS: Thiago Martins, Gabriel Pereira, Talles Magno.
OUTLOOK: Midfielder Maxi Moralez returned to Racing Club in his native Argentina after six seasons with NYCFC. He had 26 goals and 69 assists during his tenure. Forward Heber was traded to Seattle and goalkeeper Sean Johnson signed with Toronto. It appears that Nick Cushing will have a rebuilding project on his hands in his first full year at the team's coach. NYCFC brought in goalkeeper Matthew Freese from Philadelphia to replace Johnson. NYCFC won the MLS Cup in 2021.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 13-10-11, 5th in the West, lost in the opening round to the LA Galaxy.
COACH: Gary Smith.
KEY PLAYERS: Hany Mukhtar, Walker Zimmerman, C.J. Sapong.
OUTLOOK: Nashville SC moves back to the Eastern Conference this season, following the addition of expansion St. Louis City in the West. The team has made the playoffs each year since joining the league in 2020. Hany Mukhtar won both the MLS MVP and the Golden Boot with 23 goals and 11 assists last season. Nashville added winger Fafa Picault in a trade with Houston. Walker Zimmerman played for the United States at the World Cup in Qatar.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 15-11-8, 4th place in the East, lost in the opening round to Cincinnati.
COACH: Gerhard Struber.
KEY PLAYERS: Cory Burke, Lewis Morgan, Dante Vanzeir.
OUTLOOK: The Red Bulls made the playoffs for the 13th straight season, but they've never won an MLS Cup. The team had two big acquisitions in the offseason, Belgian forward Dante Vanzeir and free agent Cory Burke from Philadelphia. Captain Aaron Long went to LAFC. While winger Lewis Morgan scored a career-high 14 goals, six of those were on penalties. Still, he was the first Red Bulls player with double-digit goals since Bradley Wright-Phillips in 2018.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 12-9-13, 5th in the East, lost in the conference semifinal to Philadelphia.
COACH: Pat Noonan.
KEY PLAYERS: Brenner, Matt Miazga, Brandon Vazquez.
OUTLOOK: Cincinnati was among the surprise teams of 2022 with its fifth-place finish in the East after winning just four games — fewest in the league — the year before. Brandon Vazquez had 18 goals and eight assists last season. Brenner had 18 goals and six assists. There was nearly a deal to send the Brazilian to Nottingham Forest in the Premier League but it ultimately fell through. The team brought in Ecuadorian midfielder Marco Angulo.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 14-14-6, 6th in the East, lost in the opening round to NYCFC.
COACH: Phil Neville.
KEY PLAYERS: Josef Martinez, Jean Mota, Leo Campana.
OUTLOOK: Rumors abound that David Beckham may lure Lionel Messi to Miami, but that's not something that will happen in the immediate future. The team did add seasoned striker Josef Martinez in a trade with Atlanta. Martinez won an MLS Cup with United in 2018, when he won league MVP and the Golden Boot. Rodolfo Pizarro returned to Miami after spending a season with Monterrey in Liga MX. Gonzalo Higuain retired at the end of last season.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 14-14-6, 7th in the East, lost in the opening round to Montreal.
COACH: Oscar Pareja.
KEY PLAYERS: Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, Mauricio Pereyra.
OUTLOOK: The Lions won the U.S. Open Cup last year, so they qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League. They'll face Tigres from Liga MX in early March. Ercan Kara was the team's top scorer with 11 goals and Facundo Torres added 10, while Mauricio Pereyra had 11 assists. But Orlando had lots of players depart in the offseason, including Junior Urso, Joao Moutinho and Tesho Akindele. Argentine Martín Ojeda was brought in from Godoy Cruz as a designated player.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 10-8-16, 8th in the East.
COACH: Wilfried Nancy.
KEY PLAYERS: Cucho Hernandez, Lucas Zelarayan, Darlington Nagbe.
OUTLOOK: Coach Caleb Porter is out, replaced in the offseason by Wilfried Nancy from Montreal. The Crew won the MLS Cup in 2020, but have missed the postseason in three of the last four seasons. Columbus has a star in Cucho Hernandez, who came to the Crew from Watford in the Premier League last July. Hernandez finished last season with nine goals and three assists. Lucas Zelarayan, named the MLS Cup MVP in 2020, had 10 goals and 11 assists last season. Keep an eye on Milos Degenek, who went to the World Cup with Australia.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 13-18-3, 9th in the East.
COACH: Christian Lattanzio.
KEY PLAYERS: Enzo Copetti, Karol Swiderski, Bill Tuiloma.
OUTLOOK: Charlotte nearly made the playoffs in its first season and defied expectations for an expansion team. In the offseason the team added winger Enzo Copetti from Racing Club in his native Argentina, along with Ashley Westwood from Burnley. But the team was dealt a considerable emotional blow by the death of Anton Walkes in a boating accident. Karol Swiderski represented Poland at the World Cup in Qatar.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 10-12-12, 10th in the East.
COACH: Bruce Arena.
KEY PLAYERS: Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil, Latif Blessing.
OUTLOOK: It was a disappointing season for the Revolution, who failed to make the playoffs after winning the Supporters' Shield in 2021. Defender A.J. DeLaGarza retired, but not before signing a one-day ceremonial contract with the Galaxy, where he spent the bulk of his career. The Revs added Latif Blessing via trade with LAFC and picked up Bobby Wood in the re-entry draft. Goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic is one of the best in the league but New England still gave up 50 goals last year.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 10-14-10, 11th in the East.
COACH: Gonzalo Pineda.
KEY PLAYERS: Thiago Almada, Derrick Etienne Jr., Brad Guzan.
OUTLOOK: No more Josef Martinez, the 2018 MVP and Golden Boot winner bolted for Inter Miami after Atlanta bought out his contract. But the Five Stripes still have Thiago Almada, who won the World Cup with Argentina. He's the first player to win soccer's most coveted trophy while on an MLS roster. Atlanta also made a key front office move, brining in Club President and CEO Garth Lagerwey from the Seattle Sounders. One addition was free agent Derrick Etienne Jr., who will likely start on the left wing.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 10-15-9, 12th in the East.
COACH: Ezra Hendrickson.
KEY PLAYERS: Xherdan Shaqiri, Kacper Przybylko, Jairo Torres.
OUTLOOK: The Fire have not qualified for the postseason since 2017. Young goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina has officially moved on to Chelsea. He signed with the Premier League club last summer but served out the season in Chicago on loan. Striker Jhon Duran went to Aston Villa. But the Fire added a handful of players they hope will help put the team back in the playoffs this season, including Arnaud Souquet from Montpellier in France, Maren Haile-Selassie from Swiss club Lugano and goalkeeper Jeff Gal from Degerfors in Sweden.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 9-18-7, 13th in the East.
COACH: Bob Bradley.
KEY PLAYERS: Jonathan Osorio, Matt Hedges, Lorenzo Insigne.
OUTLOOK: The Red won just nine games last year. Lorenzo Insigne, who joined Toronto last summer from Napoli, is the league's highest-paid player with a $14 million salary. The Reds also have a high-profile player in Federico Bernardeschi, brought over last summer from Juventus. In the offseason Toronto added Sigurd Rosted from Danish club Brondby. The Reds also acquired Matt Hedges and goalkeeper Sean Johnson to shore up the defense — a good thing since the team gave up 66 goals last season, second-most in the East.
2022 RECORD AND FINISH: 7-21-6, last in the East.
COACH: Wayne Rooney.
KEY PLAYERS: Mateusz Klich, Tyler Miller, Christian Benteke.
OUTLOOK: D.C. United is by far the MLS club with the biggest turnover since last season. And, with and MLS-worst 21 losses, it was arguably necessary. The rebuilding started last summer when United named Wayne Rooney as coach. In the offseason, the team declined to bring back Ola Kamara and goalkeeper Bill Hamid. In all, they declined the options on 12 players. They signed midfielder Mateusz Klich from Leeds United and added free agent goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who is likely to start. United gave up a whopping 71 goals last season.
AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Anne M. Peterson, The Associated Press