Each Eastern Conference club’s biggest highlight from the 2021 MLS season

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The new year is approaching, so let’s take a moment and look back at 2021 before you decide.

This year’s MLS campaign was full of all the usual drama and entertainment we have come to expect from this league. Remarkable moments and fantastic goals are run by the mill.

Below is a list of each team’s biggest highlights from the 2021 season to make you even more excited ahead of the fast-approaching 2022 campaign.

JOSEF ALEXANDER MARTINEZ MENCIA ?? pic.twitter.com/RTNV1GvRPD

– Chris Smith (@ CJSmith91) November 7, 2021

Atlanta United had what could best be described as an “upside down” 2021 campaign. The original promise under Gabriel Heinze quickly evaporated into a slide down the table, disgusting reports of his treatment of players and anxiety from supporters.

Then Rob Valentino and, later, Gonzalo Pineda got their teeth in the side, causing the Five Stripes to climb back up the Eastern Conference. That climb was completed with a 2-1 victory over Decision Day that booked Atlanta’s return to the MLS Cup playoffs – the win was sealed with a fantastic volley from none other than Josef Martinez.

Monday morning, always a master?

Hang this on @mbamtl? ️ # CFMTL pic.twitter.com/lvwGABrlfi

– CF Montréal (@clubdefootmtl) 22 November 2021

There was a lot to like about CF Montreal 2021 under Wilfried Nancy, but in the end they missed the playoffs after occupying a spot after the season for most of the season.

But they still ended up with some silver in the cupboard and beat Toronto FC to lift the Canadian championship in front of their own supporters at Saputo Stadium. Whatever it is, CF Montreal has a place in next season’s CONCACAF Champions League in their luggage as well.

Bravo, Chicago!

The third largest audience in the club’s history, and most since 1998? #CFFC | # cf97 pic.twitter.com/buFrUYCOXp

– Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) October 24, 2021

It was another tough season for the Chicago Fire, which once again missed the MLS Cup playoffs. But with some talented young players breaking through, a new head coach and a renewed presence in the city, things can start to change.

The Fires’ annual “Fan Appreciation Night” was undoubtedly the highlight of their season, with 31,308 fans in attendance to see their 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in the season’s final home game.

It was Fire’s third highest attendance of all time, and the most they have achieved since their first campaign in 1998.

Double @CampeonesCup winner.

?: @phantomphotos_ pic.twitter.com/xebfCKJRfb

– The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) September 30, 2021

Domestically, the crew desperately lacked high scores when their MLS Cup defense went tragically wrong. But they still managed to take home a trophy and beat Cruz Azul to seal the Campeones Cup.

An MLS club that beats a Liga MX club is always something to celebrate, even more so when it takes home some cutlery.

A nice shiny end to an otherwise tough season.

Seven days later and still incredible.

Relive the story through an in-depth look at our 7-1 victory this Saturday. # DCU | @Audi pic.twitter.com/T1XBZcAtEF

– DC United (@dcunited) July 10, 2021

DC United almost hired Chris Armas as their head coach instead of Hernan Losada. Then, in July, they beat Toronto FC 7-1, which in effect released the guillotine on Arma’s spell that was responsible for the Reds. Poetically much?

For a team that did not make it to the playoffs, it is an equally outstanding moment as anything else. Things should improve during the impressive Losada next season.

?? pic.twitter.com/DRvok9odxi

– FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) 12 September 2021

FC Cincinnati were a bit more competitive in early 2021, at least according to the rather poor standards they have set themselves in the MLS. Then they won just one of their last 25 matches to make them crash back to the foot of the Eastern Conference. They’re starting to get a little too familiar with that wooden spoon.

One positive in the gloomy run was the 2-0 victory at home against Toronto FC in September, which was Cincy’s first and so far only victory at their impressive new TQL Stadium.

Brotherly love. ❤️

6 brothers have combined for goals in MLS history:

▪️ Gonzalo & Federico Higuaín▪️ Diego & Yimmi Chará▪️ Alex & Cristian Roldan▪️ Bradley & Shaun Wright-Phillips▪️ DaMarcus & Jamar Beasley▪️ Chris & Sean Henderson pic.twitter.com/Ob6cBpBo0t

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) October 24, 2021

Inter Miami is not reaching the heights expected of them in MLS so far. But in April, we had a healthy moment when Federico Higuain fielded younger brother Gonzalo for a draw against the Philadelphia Union. Higuain Snr then went on to take the winner in the 83rd minute.

Higuains is the sixth set of brothers combined for an MLS goal, while it is the first time in the league’s history that two brothers have scored in the same match.

For Inter Miami, it is really as good as it was on an individual basis.

Supporters Shield ✅The job is not done #NERevs pic.twitter.com/NprULiQ7ew

– Brandon Bye (@brandon_bye) November 8, 2021

Revs may have crashed out of the MLS Cup playoffs at the first hurdle, but the 2021 season will still be their best ever.

That’s because they absolutely went on Supporters’ Shield, picked up a one-season record of 73 points and surpassed all other teams in MLS.

For a club that has mostly existed as a perennial runner-up, losing all five of its MLS Cup finals and two of its three US Open Cup finals, this is a moment that will be enjoyed for a long time. The points record ensures that they will be remembered above all other shield winners.

How it feels to win #MLSCup for the first time …

Congratulations @NYCFC! ?? pic.twitter.com/cPuXSrA20p

– 90 min (@ 90min_Football) 11 December 2021

NYCFC supporters have had a lot to deal with during their time in MLS – not least because of their less than ideal stadium situation. But no matter what, they will now get the best possible comeback: “Who cares? We are LS Cup champions!”

After so many Rond One heartaches, the Pigeons went all the way and beat Atlanta United, the Revs, the Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers to win their first ever trophy.

During our six-match unbeaten series, Patryk Klimala has scored three goals, which includes his match goal in the 102nd minute against NYCFC on 22 September. This was the last goal scored in the history of the MLS regular season. ⏱ pic.twitter.com/vlYyfkVYOo

– New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) October 16, 2021

As always, the Red Bulls made the playoffs and failed to deliver after the season. But given their poor start, it is a great achievement in itself, and they look close to clicking under Gerhard Struber.

If you want an individual Red Bull moment to enjoy, Patryk Klimala’s 102 – minute equalizer in the Hudson River Derby against the NYCFC in September is your best bet.

As a result, the Red Bulls now hold the records for the earliest and most recent MLS goals.

?? Jhegson Méndez did this GOLAZO for Orlando City tonight in their 2-0 win over Montreal in the MLS

With this win, Orlando has qualified for the playoffs ?? pic.twitter.com/8BZWJGV1w6

– Warriors of Ecuador (@EcuadorHeroes) November 8, 2021

With 55 minutes on the clock, CF Montreal and Orlando City were locked to 0-0 in their match that the winner takes all Decision Day. Montreal had put in so much in the first half, but had failed to break down the Lions defense.

Then Jhegson Mendez stepped up with a wonderful volley, which put Orlando ahead and broke Canadian determination.

Daryl Dike continued to double the lead and for the second year in a row, Orlando was a playoff team. A great moment and an absolute golazo.

JAKOB GLESNES BANGER TO WIN IT IN THE 123rd MINUTE !!! # PHIVRBNY // @Audi #MLSCupPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/vEx5QBgWDg

– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 20, 2021

Speaking of golazos, Philadelphia Union midfielder Jakob Glesnes is an expert in this department.

The 27-year-old Norwegian chose the perfect moment to remind everyone of his abilities from a distance, hitting a home in the 123rd minute of the union’s win over RBNY in round one of the playoffs.

A penalty was avoided, there was bloodshed in the stands and another small part of Union folklore was created.

Young people step up when injured FC Toronto sends Club Leon in Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League games. (Photo courtesy of Toronto FC / Jasen Vinlove) #TFCLive https://t.co/7KIIY9voM1 pic.twitter.com/Wbe6j5Uoe1

– Neil Davidson (@NeilMDavidson) April 15, 2021

A paralyzed number of injuries and being forced to play their home games far down in Florida meant that absolutely no one thought Toronto FC would beat Club Leon in their CCL round-of-16 match.

But after a solid 1-1 draw in Mexico, the Reds overcame the unlikely and beat Leon 2-1 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to book their place in the quarterfinals.

Cruz Azul would send them packing, and the rest of their season fell away from there. But it was a hell of a performance from a hard-earned team.

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