Here are 11 players that should be on everyone’s radar as the new season begins. Each with their own goals and their own situations, here are 11 players to keep an eye on in MLS for 2022.
The league’s most expensive incoming signing ever will have all eyes on him throughout the season. Thiago Almada at only 20 is one of the best prospects of Argentine soccer and a player with an incredible future. Atlanta United is hoping the third time’s the charm (after Pity and Barco) and they are able to exploit Almada’s talents to various championships and a big transfer fee within the next 2-3 years.
Hard to imagine but Luiz Araújo came to MLS and Atlanta United at $12 million dollars and showed glimpses of his talent scoring 4 goals in 15 games. With his feet wet and Atlanta United back on track, Araújo is hoping for year two to be even bigger and louder.
Austin FC didn’t look like much until the arrival of Sebastián Driussi, sadly they didn’t look like much afterward except that they had a good player in Sebastián Driussi. Driussi is a very good talent and was able to connect well in the lukewarm Austin FC attack and score 5 times in 17 games. Much of his explosiveness in front of goal will depend on the service he gets from those around him. If Austin FC can improve as a team Sebastián Driussi could be a golden boot winner.
Gabriel Slonina is being compared to greats like Jan Oblak and Gianluigi Buffon, the youth international has clubs as big as Manchester United and Juventus watching him and was one of the best things from an otherwise miserable 2021 season for the Chicago Fire. Slonina may not be around by the end of the summer and could be the next big thing for the USMNT in goal.
Paul Arriola’s move to FC Dallas was a head scratcher given the interest from America in Mexico. Nonetheless the deal got done and FC Dallas signed a USMNT player and a very capable attacking option. With a lot of negativity around USMNT players that hail from MLS a big season at FC Dallas will silence critics and justify Arriola’s presence on the USMNT, for which he has performed very well for.
One of the steals of the offseason was FC Dallas signing Alan Velasco from Independiente in Argentina. Velasco is a silky and tricky winger that will improve FC Dallas attack, along with Almada was one of the top 5 best prospects in Argentina.
German midfielder Hany Mukhtar had an electric season for Nashville SC last season scoring 16 goals in 31 games. The 26-year-old was an MLS Best XI but could have been snubbed for league MVP. Can Hany Mukhtar do it again this year? That will be the big question for Nashville fans.
Sebastian Lletget’s move to New England will be one to watch, Da Boy is being taken out of his comfort zone and now must be a big improvement and major contributor to a team that was the best team in the regular season but was 1 and done in the playoffs last year. Lletget looked, much like the rest of the squad in LA, complacent in Los Angeles this move could revitalize his career and showcase that he is one of the best players in MLS when surrounded by good teammates.
A young talent that may not have a place at RB Leipzig but could still land at another club in Europe, Caden Clark’s return to the New York Red Bulls could be a nice piece at helping the club get some good results. Clark is a young talent, and the Red Bulls are in need of a spark.
Brother of Brenden, Paxten Aaronson showed his stuff in 14 games for the Philadelphia Union last season. Already on the U-20 squad for the U.S. a breakout year could be in the works for the midfielder who could follow his brother across the pond.
Not the most expensive signing but certainly one of the biggest this offseason was Uruguayan international Facundo Torres to Orlando City. Torres has already played in World Cup qualifying, Copa America, and won a title at Peñarol at only 21 years of age. An explosive winger he can cut in from the left and finish in front of goal. Torres will be a key component of Orlando City’s success but not the only point of attack, without the burden of being “the guy”, Torres could explode onto the scene in MLS.