Various teams have gone out of their way to increase their chances of either winning MLS Cup or getting into the playoffs, Atlanta United for example spent $16 million to bring in Argentine prospect Thiago Almada, while Caden Clark returns to the Red Bulls via loan from sister club RB Leipzig.
Still for teams like Austin FC, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, and Chicago Fire FC there are some main questions to answer during the course of the year.
Austin FC: Is Josh Wolff on the hot seat?
To be fair to Austin FC last season was an expansion year, but nonetheless there are expansion years and expansion years. All in all, the team won 9 games and lost 21, in August losing 5 in a row. Despite having on paper a talented side that included Tomas Pochettino, now gone on loan to River Plate, Cecilio Domínguez, Alexander Ring, and the revival of Diego Fagúndez.
Even with the arrival of Sebastián Driussi, the team languished for their lack of creativity and fluid play. Driussi showed a lot of what he can bring to the table, but he will need support. Going into 2022, Felipe Martins, Maxi Urruti, and Ethan Finlay provide marginal MLS experience and leadership. Jhojan Valencia should provide some balance to the midfield and Ruben Gabrielsen to help out a defense that leaked over 50 goals, but will this crazy new fanbase support yet another slow start? Josh Wolff looked like a first-year coach at times with some tactical decisions and poor game planning. More is expected from the roster Austin FC has put together.
Colorado Rapids - Can they continue to do it on the cheap?
Give credit where credit is due to Robin Fraser, who on a small budget was top of the west last year. But in their first playoff game they were out, yes only 1-0 but out, nonetheless. After a 17-game winning season much was expected from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment to at least go the Portland Timbers route in buying upgraded talents.
The Rapids enter 2022 with 0 DPs, although some players on the roster could technically be DPs. Max Alves of Flamengo fame comes to the team with all of 27 professional games under his belt. The team did lose Braian Galván to an ACL injury and will need to find a proper replacement, the DPs are there to be used and a talented coach like Robin Fraser could work wonders with a little bit more help.
Sporting Kansas City - Who steps up for Alan Pulido?
Well to be honest there are guys on this team who did last season, Gadi Kinda, Johnny Russell, and Dániel Sallói. Still, it sucks to know that the team will be without their big signing for the whole season and have not seen much of Pulido since his arrival. Can Sallói do it again? He has a history of having one good year followed by a stinker. Marinos Tzionis was signed to give the offense a boost, but that’s typical Sporting KC, signing guys we never heard of that will most likely shock us all.
Real Salt Lake - How to deal with the loss of Albert Rusnak?
Let’s face it, the only real question for RSL fans was, who the new owners were going to be. With that out of the way they can focus on the team, and well, they lost their star player. Who steps in to fill the void left behind by Albert Rusnak? Damir Kreilach looks to be that player, but he will need help, RSL has 2 DP spots open, but as management begins to get comfy don’t expect big signings until the summer.
Sergio Córdova comes in on loan after minimal results in Germany, Rubio Rubin did score 8 goals last season and could be a spark up top. For RSL it looks like survive until the summer when ownership will be ready to play their cards.
Chicago Fire - Can Xherdan Shaqiri be that spark they have needed?
The answer could be yes. Xherdan Shaqiri is a $7.5 million signing and will give the team much needed help after a rather miserable 2021 season. Gabriel Slonina will be that extra bit of eye candy to watch this season as the keeper is wanted by various top clubs in the world, the additions of Rafael Czichos and Jhon Durán could provide balance in the defense and attack. Striker seems to be the big question heading into the season.