2023 MLS Eastern Conference Preview

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

The 2023 MLS season is just one week away! The Eastern Conference has 15 teams this season, the 14 from last year were joined by Nashville SC making their second conference switch in as many years. How will these teams from the east fare this year, will it be Philly’s conference, or will another side take the top spot?

Mandatory Credit: Nashville SC

MLS’s Eastern Conference is a crap shoot in 2023

MLS’s Eastern conference is so hard to predict coming into 2023. The top team should still be Philadelphia as they have not lost any players that helped them get to their first-ever MLS Cup. After them, the rest of the east could come down to a mere point or two when deciding who makes the playoffs and who does not.

Let’s take a look at all 15 teams ahead of the 2023 season to see how they’re preparing for this brand-new MLS season.

The Northeastern teams

DC United

DC has prowess but has not been a giant in the league since the early days of MLS. Their only resemblance of being a good team was when Wayne Rooney played on the pitch for them back in 2018. He is now the manager of the club that finished dead last in MLS last year. Rooney has turned over the roster and has some former Premier League mainstays Christian Benteke and Mateusz Klich. These players have a winning pedigree, and DC is looking to win now to make the playoffs once again. Will what Ronney has built turn DC into a successful side in 2023?

Key addition: Mateusz Klich | Key departure: Ola Kamara | Predicted 2023 finish: 37 pts

New England Revolution

In 2021 the Revs were on top of all in MLS, but last year they dropped to 10th in the east. The club made no real replacement signing for the elite players they lost and their huge dip in form was the result. Now Brue Arena will look to get the team back up the table and into the playoffs in 2023. They have a great goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic, and a squad full of MLS veterans, but will that be enough to get New England back to being in contention for the top of the east? I think their a few younger stars off that pace, and it will come back to bite them in 2023.

Key addition: Latif Blessing | Key departure: Wilfrid Kaptoum | Predicted 2023 finish: 40 pts


NYCFC was champions of MLS in 2021 and followed it up with another playoff deep playoff run in 2022. However, this club will look very different in 2023, thanks to a boatload of important players departing the club. Sean Johnson, Alex Callens, Anton Tinnerholm, Santi Rodriguez, Maxi Moralez, and Heber all left the club this offseason. That is six starters from their glory days. Nick Cushing will have his work cut out for him, but could this be a regression year from the blue side of New York? Only time will tell if City Football group injects this side with more quality players sometime in 2023.

Key addition: Tony Alfaro | Key departure: Alex Callens | Predicted 2023 finish: 44 pts

New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls have a very impressive 13-year streak of making the MLS playoffs. However, the club has not ever lifted MLS Cup in the 27-year history of MLS. Could 2023 be their year to finally do it? The current signs point to no, as they haven’t made any huge waves in the offseason apart from losing another club captain, Aaron Long, to LAFC. Red Bull will once again put their hopes in a new striker Dante Vanzeir, if he hits this team will likely be a playoff side, but can they contend with the rest of the great sides in the east?

Key addition: Dante Vanzeir | Key departure: Aaron Long | Predicted 2023 finish: pts

Philadelphia Union

The 2022 version of the Philadelphia Union was the best-of-the-best in MLS. They scored the most goals (72) and conceded the fewest (26;) however, they fell short of two trophies losing both to LAFC. This team is extremely talented and lost none of their key players from last season. Their additions have been MLS-savvy depth pieces to make them an even stronger team. This year will be very telling about Philadelphia Union’s head coach Jim Curtin who would love to hoist another trophy for his hometown club before possibly departing to take on a different coaching challenge.

Key addition: Joaquin Torres | Key departure: Cory Burke | Predicted 2023 finish: 69 pts

The Canadian and midwestern teams

Chicago Fire FC

Chicago has been anything but fire for the past half-decade as they’ve missed the playoffs for five straight years. Their 12th-place finish in the east last year was not so inspiring. The club has spent some money on its roster over the last year and has sold two rising stars Gaga Slonina and Jhon Duran. There is no real backbone for this team as an aging Xherdan Shaqiri is tasked with putting the team on his back on the way to the playoffs. He will be tasked to do this again with little to no support around him. I don’t see this team pulling things together this year.

Key addition: ArnaudSouquet | Key departure: Jhon Duran | Predicted 2023 finish: 33 pts

Columbus Crew

Columbus has gone from MLS Cup champions in 2020 to missing the playoffs in the past two seasons. The Crew was two points short in 2022 of making the postseason, but the club is looking to be on the ups in 2023. Wilfred Nancy has been brought in as manager after successfully hoisting CF Montreal over the last two years. Can his coaching prowess combined with the talent on this Columbus roster be enough to power the crew up the table? If Cucho Hernandez and Lucas Zelarayan have MVP-level play to go along with Nancy’s leadership, then that just might be the reality for the Crew.

Key addition: Christian Ramirez | Key departure: Pedro Santos | Predicted 2023 finish: 57 pts

FC Cincinnati

Cincinnati finally made it out of the basement of MLS in 2022. Their fifth-place finish helped them make the playoffs for the first time ever and the club is looking to push things a step further in 2023. FC Cincy scored 68 goals last season; the attacking trio of Acosta, Brenner, and Vazquez will be tasked with going above and beyond that mark in 2023. The main thing to keep an eye on is the defensive structure of this team. The onus will be on the attack, but the defense cannot give up the same amount of goals (56) as they did last season. Will they take the next step up in the eastern conference?

Key addition: Yerson Mosquera (loan) | Key departure: Ronald Matarrita | Predicted 2023 finish: 49 pts

CF Montreal

Montreal had a revelation of a year in 2022. They made a run to second place in the east finishing two points off of top-team Philly. Can Montreal make the same strides in MLS in 2023? As they have prepared for this new season, Montreal has lost some key players, as well as their manager, and looks like a shell of what they were last year. New coach Hernan Losada will have his hands full with a depleted roster that still has a good amount of talent. However, his tactics of winning 4-3 instead of 1-0 may see this team among the biggest fallers from last year to this year.

Key addition: Aaron Herrera | Key departure: Ismael Kone | Predicted 2023 finish: 46 pts

Toronto FC


Toronto FC has made some big money signings last year, but the club was not able to finish anywhere near the playoffs in 2022. The side was a shell of their former glorious self, and this year TFC will be hoping that some chemistry can form to make them a true contender for a playoff spot yet again. The Italians Insigne and Bernardeschi will lead the attack while Hedges and Johnson were brought in to sure up defense and goalkeeping. Can Bob Bradley’s side do enough to push themselves into the playoffs in 2023? With the talent they have, I wouldn’t put it past them.

Key addition: Sean Johnson | Key departure: Chris Mavinga | Predicted 2023 finish: 49 pts

The Southeastern teams

Atlanta United

The five stripes finished 11th in the east last season. The team that took MLS by storm in its first few years of existence has only made the playoffs once since they won it all back in 2018. Their 2022 season was plagued by injuries of key players like Miles Robinson, Ozzie Alonzo, and Brad Guzan just to name a few. Their spine was broken, but now they’re looking to get back to their winning foundations. Star attackers Thiago Almada, and Georgios Giakoumakis will be tasked with bringing back the glory days of Almiron-Martinez. Will they be able to help Atlanta rise up the table?

Key addition: Georgios Giakoumakis | Key departure: Josef Martinez | Predicted 2023 finish: 41 pts

Charlotte FC

In their first season in MLS, Charlotte amassed an impressive 42 points missing out on the playoffs by just two wins. The Queen city seems to have found itself under manager Christian Lattenzio. Charlotte has added club-record signing Enzo Copetti to be their talisman. He should fit in very nicely with Karol Swiderski as their one-two punch. Will it be enough to lift this side to the playoffs? We’ll have to see if the offensive firepower can be matched by a stout defense that they have not been known for in their brief MLS history.

Key addition: Enzo Copetti | Key departure: Christian Fuchs | Predicted 2023 finish: 42 pts

Nashville SC

Nashville is back in the eastern conference for 2023. They have the reigning MLS MVP in Hanny Mukhtar but can he put the team on his back like he did last year to keep this team as a playoff side? Head coach Gary Smith is known for his defensive-mindedness; however, his side let in 41 goals last season which would put Nashville SC on the outside looking in of the east’s top four. They will be in contention for the east’s playoff spots, but where will they land heading back to the east for this season?

Key addition: Nick Depuy | Key departure: Dave Romney | Predicted 2023 finish: 51 pts

Inter Miami

Inter Miami looked like a solid playoff team in 2022. Their backbone was the aging star power of Gonzalo Higuain and up-and-coming star Leo Campana. They were good enough to push Miami to finish in sixth place. Now in 2023, there will be no Higuain in MLS, can head coach Phil Neville be able to adjust his team? The team brought in former MLS MVP Josef Martinez and has plans to bring in World Cup winner Lionel Messi in the summer. We’ll see if that actually happens, but if Miami’s defense give’s up 56 goals again this season they may fall short of their playoff goal.

Key addition: Josef Martinez | Key departure: Alejandro Pozuelo | Predicted 2023 finish: 43 pts

Orlando City

Orlando City won their first trophy as an MLS Club last season hoisting the US Open Cup. Now in 2023, the Lions have their sights set on MLS Glory. Orlando has been making moves this offseason to create a new-look team that fits the mold of manager Oscar Pareja. This team just barely made the playoffs last year, but the moves their making see them having the best offseason on paper. Will that type of offseason signing success translate to on-the-field success? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s hard to say this team will regress in 2023.

Key addition: Martin Ojeda | Key departure: Joao Moutinho | Predicted 2023 finish: 61 pts

Predicted East 2023 final standings

  1. Philadelphia Union – 69 pts
  2. Orlando City – 61 pts
  3. Columbus Crew – 57 pts
  4. FC Cincinnati – 51 pts
  5. Nashville SC – 51 pts
  6. Toronto FC – 49 pts
  7. New York Red Bulls – 48 pts
  8. CF Montreal – 46 pts
  9. NYCFC – 44 pts
  10. Inter Miami – 43 pts
  11. Charlotte FC – 42 pts
  12. Atlanta United – 41 pts
  13. New England Revolution – 40 pts
  14. DC United – 37 pts
  15. Chicago Fire FC – 33 pts

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Mandatory Credit: Nashville SC