2022 MLS Progress Report 2nd Edition (May)

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JUNE 23: Thomas Edwards #7 of New York Red Bulls brings the ball forward during a game between New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on June 23, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JUNE 23: Thomas Edwards #7 of New York Red Bulls brings the ball forward during a game between New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on June 23, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images) /

Today I bring to you the 2nd Edition of the 2022 MLS Progress Report. Power Rankings can often be reactionary and 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, their overall performances so far, and what their current form means based on their collective body of work. It is still early days in the 2022 Major League Soccer season so many grades may line up similarly with the league table, but that will change significantly as the season progresses (likely by the next edition).

This does not include CONCACAF Champions League performances. Only the games played through May 1st in the 2022 MLS season are taken into account for these letter grades.

F: Vancouver Whitecaps

Having lost six of their eight games so far, Whitecaps currently are the golden spoon favorites and remain in big trouble this season, most recently losing 3-0 to Austin.

D-: San Jose Earthquakes

Congratulations on getting your first win of the season against Seattle…and then you lose 3-0 to New York City FC. The new manager bounce does seem to be working on San Jose Earthquakes‘s overall performance, but based on their current body of work, it’s still lacking. At least Jeremy Ebobisse and Cristian Espinoza are stepping up and while they’ve managed to pick up more points than the Whitecaps, that’s only good enough for a D-.

D: DC United, Seattle Sounders

While DC United are bottom of the East, they are only two points out from the playoffs. That’s mostly what keeps them from getting a lower grade. The Sounders remain a tricky team to grade because of their CCL obligations, but that doesn’t excuse them blowing a 3-1 lead to San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders are used to being multitasking overachievers, but this hasn’t been an example of that.

D+: Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City are scrappy and recovered slightly from a 3-1 loss to LAFC to draw their next two games against Crew and Dallas who are both formidable opponents. Peter Vermes’s men still have ground to make up and unless that happens, their grade won’t be much better.

C-: New England Revolution, Portland Timbers

Both of these clubs are just one point away from the playoffs, but that’s not good enough given their respective pedigrees and performances last season. With the talent and depth each team possesses (granted Timbers are without Sebastian Blanco and Diego Chara), they can do better.

C: Charlotte FC, Chicago Fire, FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami

The meh tier, which is not a bad thing if you’re a fan of these four clubs. Meh is an improvement on what you were probably expecting or fearing this season. Also, in Inter Miami’s case, they’ll be happy with Leonardo Campana’s goalscoring.

C+: Colorado Rapids, Toronto FC

The Rapids saw themselves earn this grade after beating Portland Timbers, as performances are slowly but surely starting to improve. They’re flying under the radar but if this group starts to click like this more regularly, they can be a playoff team in the West. Toronto got some good wins such as beating Philadelphia Union 2-1 and won one and lost one to New York City, finding a new source of goals from Jesus Jimenez. Toronto isn’t a complete team but they look a lot better than the club on autopilot earlier in the season waiting for Lorenzo Insigne to arrive.

B-: Atlanta United, Nashville SC

Atlanta United are holding on to the last East playoff spot for the moment, and while it’s still early, they’ll be nervous because of the injuries piling up including their starting goalkeeper Brad Guzan and key players further up field in Osvaldo Alonso and Josef Martinez. Other players have stepped up, but it remains to be seen how long they can withstand this pressure. Nashville did their job so far this season: stay in the mix until the new stadium opens up, and then the points will hopefully come more easily. We’ll see if that plan works out.

B: Columbus Crew, Minnesota United, New York City FC

The Crew and Minnesota United are doing a solid job so far. While they would love to be higher up the table, they’re not going to complain about the spot they are in now. More can be expected from each of them. New York City are making up for their slow start winning their last three  games by an aggregate score of 14-4.

B+: Houston Dynamo, CF Montreal

Improved performances and playoff spots mean a respectable grade for this pair of clubs. There’s no shame in Houston losing to Austin in a Texas derby as Dynamo still sport a solid 3-3-3 record and Hector Herrera won’t have to do all the work when he arrives. Montreal beat Atlanta United in a 2-1 result and have a slight edge ahead of more established sides in the table. The progress of each of these clubs is remarkable, given how little was expected of them at the start of the season.

A-: FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Orlando City, Real Salt Lake

These impressive teams are just slightly behind the A tier teams in the table and are figuring out their tactics as the season rages on. Some of the things keeping these teams from a solid A: Dallas and RSL have drawn as many games as they’ve won, Galaxy’s offense being less consistent than their defense in recent games, and Orlando’s modest goal difference.

A: Austin FC, LAFC, New York Red Bulls Philadelphia Union

Austin, LAFC, and Philadelphia retain their A grades from the first progress report as they’ve done more of the same in the month since. This trio is confident, in form, and a lot of fun to watch. There’s less skepticism to LAFC’s start to the season than Austin since LAFC have a slightly larger sample size of regular season success, but this is not a mirage or a fluke for the Texan club. They are a legit team that no one can underestimate.

Philadelphia Union do have to look over their shoulder though as the New York Red Bulls have a better goal difference than them and are coming off a convincing 3-0 win over 3rd place Orlando City. Both the Union and Red Bulls have some home-grown flair mixed in with experienced players and goalscorers that will make their progress in the next month a joy to watch.

It’s still too early to be giving out an A+, but as we get closer to the midway point of the season, we will likely see more separation in the MLS Table. The early season progress will have to be sustained or even improved upon if there are to still be 8 teams earning A grades. I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds and hopefully you found this information helpful as you continue to follow along with the 2022 MLS season!

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