All you need to know about MLS’ Eastern Conference in 2022

Major League Soccer’s (MLS) season kicks off in five days! If you’re new to following America’s top division soccer league or have been following since 1996, here’s all you’ll need to know about MLS’ Eastern Conference ahead of 2022.

10 MLS takeaways
Mandatory Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

2022 Eastern Conference Preview

There are 14 teams in the east this year. Charlotte FC is the newcomer to the league; with that, Nashville SC moves back to the west. Who has gotten stronger heading into the 2022 season and who hasn’t? Could we see any surprises? This in-depth preview looks at all 14 teams in MLS’ eastern conference to see how they have prepared for the 2022 season.

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 4th
  • El Parcero Philly – 4th
  • Justin – 3rd
  • Zach – 2nd
  • Steve – 1st

Atlanta United is entering its sixth season in MLS. They won it all in just their second year back in 2018, but have not been able to get back to the big game since then. They finished fifth in 2021, and fell short in the first round of the playoffs, can they get past that mark in 2022?

The Doop by the River Pod boys sees Atlanta finishing somewhere in the top four. Their players brought in and those who left should make them a bit better. Are they improved enough to make it back to MLS Cup?

D – Andrew GutmanD – Josh Bauer
GK – Dylan CastanheiraGK – Ben Lundgaard
M – Osvaldo AlonsoF – Cubo Torres
GK – Justin GarcesD – Ronald Hernandez
F – Erik CentenoD – Franco Escobar
GK – Bobby ShuttleworthD – Anton Walkes
D – Ronald HernandezGK – Alec Kann
D – Caleb WileyM – Mo Adams
M – Thiago AlmadaM – Ezequiel Barco
D – George Bello

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 13th
  • El Parcero Philly – 14th
  • Justin – 14th
  • Zach – 14th
  • Steve – 14th

Charlotte FC is the latest expansion team in MLS. Their inclusion gives the league 28 teams. As is the case with expansion sides, they will likely struggle in their first season. Their coach has already said they’re “screwed” after they lost out on a DP, and transferred out their best-attacking player before a ball was even kicked. This could be a rough start for Charlotte.

All of us at Doop by the River see this team finishing either last or second-to-last in the east. Could they prove us wrong and be a team that pushes for the playoffs?

M – Sergio RuizD – Tristan Blackmon
M – Riley McGreeF – Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
M – Brandt BronicoM – Riley McGree
D – Jan Sobocinski
D – Christian Fuchs
D – Adam Armour
D – Guzman Corujo
M – Jordy Alcivar
D – Jaylin Lindsey
GK – Pablo Sisniega
F – Vinicius Mello
F – McKinzie Gaines
D – Anton Walkes
D – Joseph Mora
D – Tristan Blackmon
F – Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
D – Harrison Afful
F – Yordy Reyna
M – Alan Franco
GK – Kristijan Kahlina
M – Chris Hegardt
D – Christian Makoun
M – Benjamin Bender
GK – Adrian Zendejas
F – Cristian Ortiz
F – Karol Swiderski

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 7th
  • El Parcero Philly – 9th
  • Justin – 8th
  • Zach – 9th
  • Steve – 9th

The Chicago Fire has been a basement-dwelling team in the eastern conference for a while now. They have now rebranded twice in the last three seasons, and have moved to the city of Chicago to play their matches at Soldier Field. They have also made big improvements to their attack in 2022, but have not addressed their suspect defense.

This is a team that finished in 12th last season, but the Doop by the River crew sees this team progressing in 2022. We all see the Fire as a fringe side that either just misses the playoffs or sneaks in.

F – Missael RodríguezF – Robert Berić
M – Sergio OregelD – Francisco Calvo
GK – Spencer RicheyD – Elliot Collier
F – Victor BezerraGK – Kenneth Kronholm
D – Rafael CzichosM – Álvaro Medrán
F – Kacper PrzybylkoD – Nick Slonina
M – Xherdan ShaqiriM – Luka Stojanović
F – Jairo TorresD – Johan Kappelhof
GK – Bobby Shuttleworth
F – Ignacio Aliseda

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 14th
  • El Parcero Philly – 13th
  • Justin – 13th
  • Zach – 13th
  • Steve – 13th

FC Cincinnati has had a rough go in their three seasons in MLS, finishing dead last in all of MLS. They’ve won the fictional wooden spoon every year they’ve been in MLS, but now have a GM and a coach who has had success in this league. Could that in-and-of-itself be enough to lift this team out of last place in the entire league?

We at the Doop by the River pod, are split on this question. One of us has them finishing last in the east, while three of us see them moving just above last place. Hey, progress is progress, right?

GK – Alec KannD – Edgar Castillo
D – Alvas PowellD – Chris Duvall
F – Dominique BadjiM – Jonas Fjeldberg
D – Raymon GaddisD – Avionne Flanagan
D – John NelsonD – Joe Gyau
GK – Roman CelentanoD – Nick Hagglund
D – Nick HagglundGK – Ben Lundt
M – Haris MedunjaninM – Caleb Stanko
GK – Przemyslaw Tytoń
M – Haris Medunjanin
M – Florian Valot
D – Maikel van der Werff
M – Kamohelo Mokotjo
M – Kyle Scott

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 10th
  • El Parcero Philly – 6th
  • Justin – 7th
  • Zach – 8th
  • Steve – 7th

Columbus won it all in 2020 but fell way off in 2021. After their glorious win in MLS Cup, they came in 9th last season. Their fall down the standings was puzzling as they had a promising roster. Can they climb back up the standings in 2022?

The boys from Doop by the River don’t think so. We all see Columbus rising a bit, but this still looks like a fringe playoff side that could sneak in, but might not make noise.

F – Yaw YeboahGK – Eric Dick
GK – Evan BushD – Waylon Francis
GK – Patrick SchulteD – Saad Abdul-Salaam
M – Sean ZawadzkiD – Vito Wormgoor
GK – Brady ScottF – Erik Hurtado
D – Jalil AnibabaF – Bradley Wright-Phillips
D – Jake MorrisM – Liam Fraser
D – Will SandsGK – Evan Bush
D – Milos DegenekD – Harrison Afful
M – James IgbekemeD – Grant Lillard
F – Erik HurtadoD – Aboubacar Keita
D – Milton Valenzuela
M – Sebastian Berhalter

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 12th
  • El Parcero Philly – 11th
  • Justin – 12th
  • Zach – 11th
  • Steve – 11th

DC United just missed the playoffs in 2021, but their approach was unorthodox, to say the least. Their manager said they would rather win 3-2 instead of 1-0, and that showed in how they played. They missed out on the playoffs by one point, can they get better in 2022, and make the playoffs?

The Doop by the River Pod doesn’t think so, we all see DC dropping further away from the playoffs in 2022. That’s what happens when they lose major pieces to what made their team click last year.

D – Gaoussou SamakeM – Yamil Asad
D – Brendan Hines-IkeGK – Jon Kempin
M – Ted Ku-DiPietroM – Felipe Martins
D – Hayden SargisF – Ramón Ábila
D – Brad SmithF – Jovanny Bolívar
GK – Jon KempinD – Michael DeShields
F – Michael EstradaD – Joseph Mora
M – Yordy Reyna
GK – Chris Seitz
F – Jovanny Bolívar
F – Erik Sorga
D – Frédéric Brillant
F – Paul Arriola
D – Kevin Paredes

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 11th
  • El Parcero Philly – 12th
  • Justin – 11th
  • Zach – 12th
  • Steve – 12th

Inter Miami had no real identity in their first two seasons in MLS. In those years they finished 10th and 11th. In 2022, they are going through a complete roster rebuild. 20 players from last year’s roster are no longer with the team; it’s as if they need to hit the reset button in order to push for the playoffs.

We at Doop by the River see Miami being at or near the same place they have been in their first two seasons. All the change may be what is needed, but it looks like it may take another year to show their competitiveness.

M – Jean MotaM – George Acosta
F – Ariel LassiterD – Ventura Alvarado
M – Mo AdamsGK – Dylan Castanheira
M – Bryce DukeM – Jay Chapman
GK – Clement DiopD – Sami Guediri
M – George AcostaGK – John McCarthy
D – Aimé MabikaM – Josh Penn
D – Christopher McVeyD – Patrick Seagrist
D – Damion LoweM – Victor Ulloa
F – Emerson RodríguezM – Federico Higuaín
M – Brek SheaM – Brek Shea
F – Leonardo CampanaF – Indiana Vassilev
D – DeAndre YedlinF – Lewis Morgan
F – Robert TaylorF – Julian Carranza
GK – CJ dos SantosM – Rodolfo Pizarro
D – Kelvin Leerdam
D – Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
D – Christian Makoun
D – Ryan Shawcross
D – Nicolas Figal

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 9th
  • El Parcero Philly – 8th
  • Justin – 10th
  • Zach – 4th
  • Steve – 6th

Montreal had it rough in 2021. Thiery Henry left the manager’s position before their season started, and this team had to play a part of their season’s home games in Florida due to the pandemic. They still almost made the playoffs, and now in 2022, this team could be one that makes noise in the east.

The Doop by the River gang sees this team anywhere between 10th and 4th. If they can get things figured out, they can definitely be a playoff team, but if they falter a bit like last season, then they could miss out yet again.

M – Ahmed HamdiGK – Sebastian Breza
M – Joaquin TorresM – Jean-Yves Ballou Tabla
M – Lassi LappalainenM – Clément Bayiha
D – Gabriele CorboM – Tomas Giraldo
D – Alistair JohnstonD – Mustafa Kizza
GK – Sebastian BrezaD – Aljaz “Kiki” Struna
D – Rudy CamachoM – Emanuel Maciel
GK – Logan KettererD – Rudy Camacho
F – Kei Kamara

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 3rd
  • El Parcero Philly – 3rd
  • Justin – 2nd
  • Zach – 5th
  • Steve – 10th

New England Revolution won the east and the Supporters Shield last season. They were the best team throughout the MLS season breaking the record for points gained. Will they be able to duplicate this in 2022? They are going to lose star goalkeeper Matt Turner in the summer, and possibly more of their stars as well.

The Doop by the River boys sees a regression in 2022. Two of us see them still finishing top four, one of us sees them falling to fifth, and another sees them falling way off after losing their key players. Will this happen to Bruce Arena’s team?

M – Sebastian LletgetD – Collin Verfurth
D – Omar GonzalezM – Tajon Buchanan
M – Noel BuckM – Luis Caicedo
F – Jozy AltidoreM – Scott Caldwell
GK – Jacob JacksonGK – Brad Knighton
D – Ryan SpauldingF – Teal Bunbury
D – Christian Mafla
GK – Matt Turner (Summer 2022)

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 1st
  • El Parcero Philly – 1st
  • Justin – 4th
  • Zach – 3rd
  • Steve – 3rd

NYCFC won MLS Cup in 2022. They are the defending champs and have gone rather unscathed in the winter transfer window. Is this team that plays in a baseball stadium about to start their camping to repeat in 2022?

The Doop by the River Pod sees this team as a perennial force in the east. All of us see them finishing in the top four. They should be a force to be reckoned with in 2022 as they were in 2021.

D – Christian McFarlaneM – Jesus Medina
F – Jonathan JimenezM – Juan Pablo Torres
D – Nicholas BenalcazarM – Gudi Thórarinsson
D – Samuel OwusuM – Tony Rocha
D – Thiago MartinsF – Ismael Tajouri-Shradi
M – James Sands

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 8th
  • El Parcero Philly – 10th
  • Justin – 9th
  • Zach – 10th
  • Steve – 8th

The New York Red Bulls were such an up and down team in 2021. They won 13 games but lost 12. Every time this young team took a step forward, they took two backward. The Red Bull system is still the star of this team, as they almost won the playoff game they were in but were downed by a 120-minute winner.

Can Red Bulls progress in2022? The Doop by the River boys doesn’t think so. All of us see this team fall back to a fringe team that misses out on the playoffs.

GK – Carlos CoronelGK – Luca Lewis
F – Lewis MorganD – Mandela Egbo
D – Dylan NealisD – Andrew Gutman
M – Daniel EdelmanD – Issiar Dramé
F – Zach RyanF – Fábio
M – Jesús CastellanoF – Mathias Jørgensen
F – Jake LaCavaD – Kyle Duncan
M – Caden ClarkM – Daniel Royer
M – Luquinhas D – Tom Edwards
D – Tom EdwardsM – Youba Diarra
F – Serge Ngoma M – Sean Davis

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 5th
  • El Parcero Philly – 5th
  • Justin – 5th
  • Zach – 7th
  • Steve – 4th

Orlando City had a good but not great 2021 season. In what would prove to be the final season of Nani, Mueller, and Dike all together up top, they were only able to get sixth place. In 2022, they have had to revamp their attack. Will their incoming players be enough to help them progress this year?

We at the Doop by the River Pod are split on this. Three of us see Orlando getting one or two places ahead of where they were last season, and one of us sees them falling one place. Either way, this should be a playoff team in 2022.

M – Cesar AraujoM – Raul Aguilera
F – Alexandre PatoM – Jordan Bender
F – Facundo TorresF – Derek Dodson
F – Ercan KaraD – Rio Hope-Gund
D – Alex FreemanF – David Loera
D – Emmanuel Mas
F – Nani
F – Chris Mueller
F – Alexandre Pato
M – Uri Rosell
F – Daryl Dike
F – Alexander Alvarado

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 2nd
  • El Parcero Philly – 2nd
  • Justin – 1st
  • Zach – 1st
  • Steve – 2nd

The Union is now a consistent contender in MLS. Their meteoric rise over the last five years is nothing short of genius. Now the club’s intention is to win MLS Cup, after falling just one game short of playing for the cup last season. Has this team done enough to get to that point?

The Doop by the River gang sees this Union tea either winning the east or finishing second. The move to bring in two DP forwards shows the intent to upgrade the one position that was lacking. Is this team ready for the marathon that is the MLS Season and playoffs?

F – Julian CarranzaF – Matheus Davo
D – Anton SorensonD – Aurelien Collin
F – Mikael UhreM – Ilsinho
D – Alvas Powell
F – Kacper Przybylko
M – Jamiro Monteiro

Doop by the River Gang’s 2022 Predictions

  • Tim – 6th
  • El Parcero Philly – 7th
  • Justin – 6th
  • Zach – 6th
  • Steve – 5th

Toronto FC were victims of a hard slip in 2021. They are used to be a club that is competing for trophies, but last season was in the basement of the east for the whole season. They finished 13th, and this year they are looking to re-build. Their new coach Bob Bradley can provide that stability, and the incoming Italian superstar will be the guy for them in the Summer when he gets to Toronto.

The Doop by the River Gang sees Toronto making the jump back to the playoffs in 2022. We all see them finishing either fifth or sixth this year. Can they make noise in the playoffs? We’ll have to wait to see!

D – Shane O’NeillF – Patrick Mullins
F – Lorenzo InsigneD – Rocco Romeo
D – Luca PetrassoGK – Kevin Silva
F – Ayo AkinolaD – Eriq Zavaleta
F – Deandre KerrF – Ayo Akinola
GK – Greg RanjitsinghD – Julian Dunn
D – Lukas MacNaughtonM – Nick DeLeon
D – Carlos SalcedoM – Tsubasa Endoh
F – Jesus JimenezM – Liam Fraser
F – Erickson Gallardo
D – Justin Morrow
D – Omar Gonzalez
D – Richie Laryea
F – Dom Dwyer
M – Mark Delgado
F – Yeferson Soteldo
F – Jozy Altidore
D – Auro

The East has true contenders for MLS Cup

The eastern conference has a few teams that have proven to be at or near the top of the conference year in and year out. This season is no different. Teams like New England, NYCFC, and Philly all have a legit shot at winning the conference and MLS Cup this year.

Will any of these three win it all? Will any teams who are in the four-10 range in the standings have what it takes to climb up and break into this group? Could teams 11-14 surprise us all and move into a playoff spot by the end of 2022? We’ll have to watch to find out!

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Mandatory Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire