MLS Preview: The Top Contenders Who Will Win It All, With LAFC Leading The Way; Inter Miami could play with Lionel Messi

Just a few more nights of sleep until Major League Soccer returns on Saturday. During the road to the MLS Cup thanks Changes to playoff format this seasonTeams will do their best to prevent Steve Cherundolo Los Angeles F.C Squad from a repeat this year. MLS is one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world with six different teams having won each of the last six MLS cups, but who can call themselves the crème de la crème heading into the new year?

The list below is presented in no particular order, but I would support any team from the following group to win the MLS Cup at the end of the season:

The Columbus crew

If games ended after 60 minutes, the Crew would have been one of the best teams in the league, but Caleb Porter is out after winning the MLS Cup with the team in 2020 after dropping 24 points from the winning positions. Replaced by Wilfred Nancy From CF Montreal the crew will maintain a similar 3-5-2 this season but they would be well-trained under Nancy, who is inheriting a team with a similar level of talent to the Montreal roster he left but with deeper pockets to earn a impact in the transfer window.

Led by Cucho Hernandez, who scored nine goals in 16 games as a summer signing Luke Zelarayan, the crew’s attack, rivals anyone in the league. Lose Pedro Santos to DC United is a punch and they haven’t added much depth yet, but Cristian Ramirez could be a sneaky good addition to what they’re doing well. Although the season is likely to open with Jimmy Medranda at full-back, the Crew is a side I can see finding balance and Nancy also knows how to use their full-back. If things don’t work out early, buying power is king and they have that option to compete in the MLS Cup after missing the playoffs last season.


That the reigning champions are repeat favorites speaks volumes for just how much talent LAFC has at their disposal. With the loss of Gareth Bale, Latif Blessing and Cristian Arango, the team lost attack power but gained balance. It’s one thing to have too many attackers and that’s what LAFC hit at times when trying to place Carlos Vela, Denis Bouanga, Arango and Bale. Not to mention that they have a ready-to-go replacement that came off the bench in Kwado Opoku. Jose Cifuentes and Kellyn Acosta will also play important roles in making the team tick.

They’re still struggling with the Concacaf Champions League, but it would come as a shock if LAFC finished lower than second in the Western Conference. With the first round now a best-of-three series, they’re also unlikely to be thrown back for being rusty after a bye week. LAFC will be a team with a goal on their backs, but given their purchasing power, they will be keen to try and secure a place in the finals again if new signings are needed.

Philadelphia union

Union has brought back its entire core from a team that won the MLS Cup on penalties last season and are firm favorites to win the Eastern Conference for good reason, as Jim Curtin’s side have one of the best offensive records in the League and the best can boast a defensive record. Daniel Gazdag nearly won the golden boot with 24 goals last season and is also an MVP contender. The only thing that could derail Union is the summer transfer window.

Whenever the window is open, left-back Kai Wagner is being linked with a European move that hasn’t materialized yet, but the more he’s amassing assists while playing superb defence, the harder it is for the Union to get him hold. Jack McGlynn could be in a similar situation but Ernst Tanner has shown he can replace players the team is losing so even at worst he should be backed to fill the squad.


Okay, this is 100% hope but there’s a little rumor that won’t go away regarding Inter Miami and whatnot one that links her to Lionel Messi. Phil Neville, who already adds Josef Martinez to help Leonardo Campana, will have a good attacking force even after Alejandro Pozuelo’s departure. But this is not about the current squad. It’s about potential.

As it stands, Miami would do well to reach the playoffs, but with Messi, they would become instant contenders for the MLS Cup. Messi would be the most talented player to ever set foot in the league and still one of the best players currently playing in it. If he did come to Miami, it wouldn’t happen until the summer, but that would be plenty of time to get the team over the playoff line and make them contenders.

Seattle Sounders

Despite winning the Concacaf Champions League last season, the Sounders missed the playoffs due to a series of injuries and poor performances on track. But now healthy and with an upgraded backup striker in Heber, Brian Schmetzer’s side will once again compete with the cream of the crop in the West. Joao Paulo is one of the best midfielders in the league and will be back, while Abert Rusnak is now also integrated into the squad.

The Sounders have fewer games to log since they didn’t qualify for the Champions League, which helps secure a higher starting spot in the Western Conference. This is a team that won’t stay down for long as the Sounders are easily one of the most talented teams in the league on paper. MLS Preview: The Top Contenders Who Will Win It All, With LAFC Leading The Way; Inter Miami could play with Lionel Messi

Chris Estrada

Chris Estrada is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chris Estrada joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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