2022 marks the 27th season of Major League Soccer (MLS), and it’s shaping up to be one of the most exciting seasons yet. New York City FC are the reigning champions after defeating the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup. New England Revolution secured the Supporters’ Shield and will be looking to build upon it this year.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at how the MLS works, some of this season’s favorites, and some top tips for placing early bets.
How the MLS works
The MLS runs from February to October each year. Given the size of the United States, the MLS is split into two conferences — East and West. Each conference has 14 teams.
Each team plays 34 matches. These games include teams playing every other team in their conference, home and away, plus a total of eight cross-conference games against teams in the opposing league.
At the end of the MLS season, the top seven teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. This knockout competition results in teams being cut until there are two champions for each conference. These two winning teams then compete in the MLS Cup to determine the overall champion.
In addition to the two conferences, there’s also an overall league table featuring all 28 teams. The winner of this overall league wins the Supporters’ Shield.
Who are the favorites to win the MLS in 2022?
The bookies have a number of favorites for the 2022 season. Below, we’ll take a look at some of these individual teams.
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New York City FC
Founded in 2015, New York City FC has rocketed to the top of the MLS in recent years. French-legend Patrick Vieria led the club to its first playoff campaign a few years ago, and to second place in the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings back in 2017.
Since then, the club has grown, and last year won its very first trophy — the MLS Cup.
Despite their surprise success last year, the bookies aren’t holding out much hope for a repeat performance this year. Most betting companies have made them the fourth or fifth favorite to secure silverware.
However, if New York City FC goes on to make a few key signings and start the season off well, they could find themselves as one of the picks of the season.
New England Revolution
Winners of the Supporters’ Shield last year, New England Revolution is one of the favorites to secure a trophy this year. Playing at the impressive Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the team is led by veteran coach Bruce Arena and boasts a roster of talented players.
However, much depends on the progress made during the off-season. Star player and MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Matt Turner, has been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal. The once undrafted free agent has put in a string of impressive performances for the Rev, and top football journalist Fabrizio Romano has confirmed that talks between the teams are ongoing.
Losing such a pivotal player in such a key position could put a dent in their title chances this year.
Los Angeles FC
Los Angeles FC (LAFC), are one of the favorites to win both the MLS Cup and Supporters’ Cup this year. They’ve won the Supporter’s Shield just once in their history, back in 2019, and won the Western Conference the same season.
This year, they have a roster packed with talent, including Mexican star Carlos Vela and Colombian Cristian Arango.
They’ll be keen to build upon last year’s performance in which they finished 9th in the Western Conference, missing out on the playoffs, and 17th overall — a significant fall from 2019.
Another key factor to consider is the loss of legendary US coach Bob Bradley, who left the franchise after a number of years in charge. They have since appointed Steve Cherundolo, former captain of Hannover 86 and veteran of three US World Cup campaigns. Whether they can turn their fortunes around this year remains to be seen.
The 2022 MLS season is promising to be a good one. With no clear favorites and rosters packed with talented players, the door is very much open for someone to claim the much-sought-after title.