2022 Major League Soccer Progress Report

Mar 12, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez (19) heads the ball from Orlando City defender Antonio Carlos (25) in the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; FC Cincinnati forward Brandon Vazquez (19) heads the ball from Orlando City defender Antonio Carlos (25) in the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

Instead of doing a traditional Power Rankings format, this season I’ll be doing an MLS Progress Report every few weeks.

Power Rankings can often be reactionary and the reasons more moving teams up and down and by however many spots can be more arbitrary. With this format, hopefully it does the progress (or lack thereof) of the 28 clubs justice.

These grades are relative to their respective club’s expectations and their overall performances so far. So while you may find that the grades given here may line up similarly with the league table, that will change significantly as the season progresses.

This does not include CONCACAF Champions League performances. Only the first four games of the 2022 MLS season are taken into account for these letter grades. So let’s get started!

Where do all 28 MLS teams sit after the first four match rounds?


CF Montreal, Inter Miami, San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps

Four clubs, four points between them, more questions and frustrations than answers. Ask most fans of any of these sides if they’re enjoying the season so far and they’ll either say no or retreat from the embarrassment. Still early days into the season but they need A LOT of help, especially Inter Miami who look like the Wooden Spoon favorites. Oh and San Jose Earthquakes, playing Jackson Yueill as a center back is grounds for an F itself.


Toronto FC

It was clear going into this season that the goal for Toronto was to bide their time until Lorenzo Insigne came in the summer. Their points haul of 4 out of a possible 12 isn’t awful considering their losses were against Columbus and Red Bulls, but this side is still a work in progress.


New England Revolution, New York City FC

When you set the bar high in 2021 with a Supporters Shield or an MLS Cup, there is an expectation to start the next season strong. To be on the same amount of points as Toronto after 4 weeks will raise some flags. While CCL results don’t influence their grades, I must take into account the MLS selection issues that come from CCL involvement which is also a factor. Still, the Revs and NYC will hope to get things back on track sooner rather than later.


Nashville SC, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City

Nashville started the season with a win at Lumen Field and a draw at Minnesota, but losses to Dallas and RSL made the rest of their road trip to start the season a little more bumpy. Many Western Conference MLS fans feared the implications of Nashville’s arrival, but so far they’ve been manageable. Sounders and Sporting KC are currently shells of their usual selves but a lot of that comes down to injuries.


Charlotte FC

Expectations were set low for this season’s expansion club when Miguel Angel Ramirez said “We are screwed” prior to their attendance record breaking season opener. Expansion is a tough process to start out, but perhaps a 3-1 win over New England Revolution will propel them to a more memorable debut campaign.


Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers

Like Toronto, Houston has a big reinforcement coming this summer in the form of Hector Herrera. Portland aren’t relying on that, but it turns out they have a new source of set piece goals through New Zealand international center back Bill Tuiloma. Things are going ok in East Texas and Northwest Oregon, just ok though.


DC United

At the time of writing, DC United finds themselves just inside the playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. However, even with a points haul of 6 (obtained by defeating Cincinnati and Charlotte), they will be disappointed to have come up empty against Chicago and Toronto. There’s work to do to ensure they stay in 7th a month from now.


LA Galaxy

Every time the Galaxy bring in a player of Douglas Costa’s caliber, a B- isn’t good enough after a significant stretch into the season. Losing to Orlando and a struggling Sounders will temper expectations in Carson, but it’s hard to feel proud of the work done so far when crosstown rivals LAFC are off to a great start. Then again, Galaxy fans will point to their MLS Cups and say “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”.


FC Cincinnati, Colorado Rapids, Orlando City

For many Cincinnati fans, winning two consecutive games is worthy of celebration. The standard of play has been POOR to say the least prior to this season, but so far they look capable of turning over a new leaf led by Brandon Vázquez. The Colorado Rapids and Orlando will be more modestly content with their progress, particularly in Colorado’s case as losing 3-0 to LAFC will be taken as a warning sign.


Atlanta United, Columbus Crew, Minnesota United, New York Red Bulls

This tier of clubs consists of those who have gotten good results through their first four games and look to have solid rosters, but still have holes to fill and concerns to address. Among them are the role players that have stepped up into larger contributions, from Atlanta United’s Matheus Rossetto to New York Red Bulls’s Tom Barlow. Thiago Almada hasn’t been bad for the Red and Black stripes either. Elsewhere, Minnesota United would like someone other than Luis Amarilla to become a source of goals, while Crew have a similar desire for help for Lucas Zelarayan.


Chicago Fire, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake

Is the first four games a mirage, a coincidence, or luck? Or have these teams found some winning formulas that should put the rest of the league on notice. In any case, Chicago, Dallas, and Salt Lake have overachieved relative to their expectations and in the case of the former two, it isn’t just the Xherdan Shaqiri or Jesus Ferreira show. Keep an eye on this trio and the progress they continue to make.


Austin FC, LAFC, Philadelphia Union

Austin may be 4th in the Western Conference, two points below LAFC and Real Salt Lake and 1 point behind Minnesota United, but when virtually everyone expects minor improvements to start the 2022 season following a difficult 2021, this is worthy of an A. Winning by a combined 10-1 against Cincinnati and Inter Miami (acknowledging the opponents), losing 1-0 to Portland, and drawing 1-1 to Seattle shows tremendous progress from a year ago.

LAFC and Philadelphia Union are at the top of their respective conferences and their squads look solid in terms of talent and depth. LAFC have a dangerous attacking combination between Cristian Arango and Carlos Vela, and as long as Latif Blessing continues to stabilize the midfield and a fortified defensive unit with the arrivals of Ryan Hollingshead and Maxime Crepeau do their part, LAFC are back in business.

Philadelphia Union looks to have the strongest “back 6” (goalkeeper, defense, and defensive midfielder) in MLS, with Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, and Jose Martinez at the top of their game. They are still trying to figure out who their best striker combination is out of Mikael Uhre, Sergio Santos, Julian Carranza, and Corey Burke, with various circumstances keeping them out of the squad at different points. It’s a good problem to have though, especially with a wave of homegrown talent ready to contribute and provide depth.

However, if either the gold and black half of LA or Philadelphia want this A to become an A+, they know what time it is. It’s win now mode. The playoffs may be 30 games away, but that is their ultimate goal to win their first ever MLS Cup. And the teams that didn’t make the grade will be trying hard to change the narrative and prevent that from happening.

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