New Year’s resolutions; most do them, few stick to them.
Still, there will be plenty of MLS clubs to consider as the 2022 season draws to a close, and what better time than January to clear away bad habits, reshape a list or decide to do better?
Here’s a New Year’s promise for all Western Conference teams:
Throughout the season, you have all brought your energy and passion to @ Q2Stadium and beyond. Together with our friends @Visible we wanted to say thank you, Austin, for always standing up for us! pic.twitter.com/NvcNlcEC3p
– Austin FC (@AustinFC) December 30, 2021
They may have stopped near the bottom of the West, but Austin FC certainly did not take up its expansion year in the same way we have seen others do before.
There are some pieces there. They play good football and defend themselves relatively well, and they have an incredible stadium with an active fan base. The only thing missing is the cutting edge in the last third.
A top-class DP striker might just push them in outside the playoffs.
It took Robin Fraser 7 years after he was fired by Chivas to get a new head coach job in MLS.
Today his # Rapids96 won west.
The rapids. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/031VSP9UtS
– Anthony DiCicco (@DiCiccoMethod) November 8, 2021
Colorado Rapids, who top the Western Conference despite having the lowest spending in the league and no permanent DPs – loaned Younes Namli was the only one and spent most of the year injured – is proof of head coach Robin Fraser and every single player on his playlist .
But that success during the regular season was not translated into the playoffs, namely because when the Rapids needed to ask the Portland Timbers questions, there was no one there to do so. In knockout one-time matches, you need reliable difference creators.
Fill in those DP spots and Rapids could be in for a fucking 2022 season.
The likely sale of Ricardo Pepi and Justin Che will mean that FC Dallas will have received $ 30 million for academy players within a 12-month period
Bryan Reynolds ($ 7.5 million) Tanner Tessmann ($ 4 million) Ricardo Pepi (~ $ 15 million) Justin Che (~ $ 3 million to $ 5 million?) Pic.twitter.com/EjDuIKGLiR
– MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) December 26, 2021
FC Dallas has sold so much over the years but reinvested that money terribly with so many signings missing the target. That’s why they went from fun and brave to one of the worst teams in MLS 2021.
As first revealed by 90min, Ricardo Pepi is courted by some of Europe’s best, he’s actually gone. Dallas will get a very, very handsome fee for the teenager. But unlikely when they have sold the likes of Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds, the Hunts must use that money wisely, otherwise it will be a wooden spoon race, not a playoff.
BIG low season before Dynamo.
– head coach search – could add 3 DPs if they want – could add 2 U22 initiators -A couple of big contracts possibly / probably canceled
Plenty of room for new GM Pat Onstad to work
– Tom Bogert (@tombogert) November 4, 2021
It has been tough for Dynamo in recent years, but it smells of new optimism in the air.
A new owner is in town in Ted Segal, who promises to splash the money. That money should be in very good hands with Pat Onstad, who has a lot of experience in building championship-winning lists.
It is not easy to rebuild, but Dynamo needs one. Segal must open the checkbook and then trust the process. Even more important is that he has to sit back and let Onstad start working – he knows what he is doing.
Chicharito. ‘Enough said. pic.twitter.com/se5qdJI3Wc
– Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 9, 2021
Despite playing just 1,736 minutes, Chicharito scored 17 goals last season, leaving him just two behind eventual Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos.
It’s a remarkable turnaround from his miserable form 2020. The only problem? Most everything else from Galaxy was awful. No other player scored more than five goals for the club in 2021 – if they had, they would have made it to the playoffs.
Such as Samuel Grandsir and Kevin Cabral need to start supporting Chicharito more, while it will be interesting to see how the Mexican’s partnership with Dejan Loveljic develops, with the two producing some promising moments together. In any case, Chicharito needs help next year if LA is to become a playoff team again.
A true leader since day one. Good luck in the next chapter.
? #LAFC and Bob Bradley agree to separate.
– LAFC (@LAFC) November 18, 2021
Nothing about LAFC’s 2022 campaign is certain. Black and Gold have come down hard from the heights of 2019 and last season they did not even make it to the playoffs.
Bob Bradley is gone. Eduard Atuesta is gone. Diego Rossi is almost certainly gone. Brian Rodriguez may be gone.
LAFC must get the right job of head coach. They need someone with experience in building lists and cutlery on their resume. Without it, it can all fall apart next year.
Captain, leader, LEGEND
Thanks, @OzzieAlonso pic.twitter.com/0oR1xrcSE0
– MNUFC But In The Offseason (@MNUFC) December 23, 2021
Minnesota United’s defense has not really been the same since they lost Ike Opara and towards the end of 2021 it really started to show. They were eventually penalized in the playoffs and lost 3-1 to the Portland Timbers.
For Adrian Heath’s men to be competitive again next year, you get the feeling that they need to bring in at least one top defender, if not two. And a defensive midfielder to replace Osvaldo Alonso. Tighten up the back and good things will happen, Loons are more than capable at the other end of the field.
I’ve seen enough ..
Hany Mukhtar for MVP ..
26 goals and assists this season. pic.twitter.com/DNmJY5VJdm
– MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) November 7, 2021
There really is not much wrong with Nashville. Gary Smith has his side that shuts teams out when needed and plays good football when they can. They make smart signings that work from hope, and there is a very strong argument that Hany Mukhtar was the real MVP 2021.
If there is one area that they could possibly do better, it is center-forward. CJ Sapong came in and did well on a budget and scored 12 goals in 29 starts. But he is 33 years old and prefers to operate from the attacker rather than as a point of contact. Ake Loba and Jhonder Cadiz simply did not work.
Get a goalless striker and Nashville can only go one step further after the season.
(via @MLS) pic.twitter.com/0ippbdX02Y
– B / R Football (@brfootball) 21 November 2021
The Portland Timbers 2021 was a team full of MLS legends. Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri just to name a few.
But Valeri leaves and Blanco and Chara do not get younger. If they want to build on their MLS Cup final appearance, the Timbers will probably need to develop.
More confidence needs to be given to younger players like Cristhian Paredes, while a couple of nimble signings can get them ready for another deep play-off round. These fresh legs can come in handy at the end of the season.
This is art. Put David Ochoa in the Louvre. pic.twitter.com/E5oqEba4zW
– Andrew Wiebe (@andrew_wiebe) November 24, 2021
Until the playoffs, we would definitely have talked about how RSL needed to learn to defend so that they did not have to score three goals every time they wanted to win a match. Then they went and hit Sounders without trying a single shot and sent SKC packing in the next round.
There are some contract issues to fix and players to replace, but in the end – and sorry for the cliché – they have to find an owner. From top to bottom, everything becomes easier when you know who is responsible.
San Jose Earthquakes GM Chris Leitch, on the question of whether it was “100% definitive”, Matias Almeyda will be the head coach next season:
“Matias and I met this morning. … The intention is that we are in line to do what is necessary for this club to be successful in 2022. “
– Tom Bogert (@tombogert) November 10, 2021
Listen, Quakes is super fun. There’s nothing better than watching them set foot on the floor to chase down opponents in their crazy man-marking system. And when it works, they destroy teams. But what if it does not? Well, things get ugly.
That was what cost them a playoff spot last year, as they could not adapt when they received a slap in the face. When the first pressure line was bypassed, they collapsed under the weight of numerical mismatches.
Get some experienced heads in the middle and turn down the speakers from 11/10. Then maybe head coach Matias Almeyda and his team can realize their full potential.
OH MY WORDS
RAUL RUIDIAZ SEES HOLDERS FROM THE LINE AND ….. ??? pic.twitter.com/J42xDEyZE4
– Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 23, 2021
Raul Ruidiaz has been at the center of so much success for the Seattle Sounders and, apart from Josef Martinez, he has undoubtedly been the most terrifying center-forward in the MLS in recent years.
But there are rumors that he wants to leave, and League MX clubs sniff around the Peruvian.
Losing him would be a blow but if it will happen, better get it done quickly and start planning to replace him. Or decide early on to keep him and build your team around him again. It’s not only good, it’s a proven, winning formula.
Sounders are usually the best in the summer market, but this time it feels like they have to check this one before the season starts.
A rocket from @alanpulido! ? pic.twitter.com/hdCDVY980b
– Major League Soccer (@MLS) 23 May 2021
Alan Pulido should be up there with Ruidiaz, Martinez and Taty Castellanos as one of the most devastating strikers in the MLS. That’s actually the case when he’s on the pitch, with the Mexican national team player scoring 15 goals and assisting another seven in just 36 Sporting Kansas City appearances.
The problem is that the 36 matches have been spread over two seasons, with persistent injuries that keep him sidelined. And when he’s not there, SKC is all the worse for it.
It is difficult to advocate for SKC to get rid of Pulido, such is his efficiency. But finding a way to realize his style just as effectively without him would help Peter Verme’s men avoid that late season of 2021.
Andiamo! ? #VWFC announces Vanni Sartini as head coach. https://t.co/eyuTF6xb8D pic.twitter.com/WHMbCpSZHl
– Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 30, 2021
Vanni Sartini is a fun head coach and immediately became popular with Vancouver Whitecap supporters. Not surprising given that he dragged them back to the playoffs.
The ‘Caps are also set up in front, with Ryan Gauld, Brian White and Cristian Dajome combining brilliantly.
All that remains now is for Sartini to take a midfielder, or settle for a consistent pair to allow for some understanding, and Vancouver should be ready for a new run after the season. Lots to be optimistic about.
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