On the heels of an electrifying World Cup and one of the most exciting MLS championship games in history, we’re excited for the forthcoming 2023 Major League Soccer season.
Nashville SC vs. New York City FC will square off in the first match of the season. After that, MLS fans will be blessed with the first El Tráfico match of the season as the LA Galaxy take on defending MLS champs LAFC.
Without further ado, let’s jump into our preview of the 2023 MLS season.
How are MLS teams stacking up for 2023?
Let’s kick things off with our power rankings for the 2023 MLS season:
- Los Angeles FC
- Philadelphia Union
- New York City FC
- Atlanta United
- FC Cincinnati
- Austin FC
- Nashville SC
- LA Galaxy
- Seattle Sounders
- Toronto FC
- FC Dallas
- Orlando City SC
- CF Montréal
- New York Red Bulls
- Portland Timbers
- Columbus Crew
- Sporting KC
- San Jose Earthquakes
- New England Revolution
- Charlotte FC
- Minnesota United FC
- Chicago Fire FC
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- Colorado Rapids
- Inter Miami CF
- Real Salt Lake
- Houston Dynamo FC
- D.C. United
- St. Louis City SC
Who are the top MVP candidates in 2023?
Mukhtar won the MVP in convincing fashion last season. He led the league with 23 goals, and he also ranked in the top 10 in MLS with 11 assists. His 34 goal contributions (23 goals, 11 assists) rank him 5th overall to happen in a single MLS season. Only one player has ever won the MLS MVP twice. After last season’s absolute domination by Mukhtar, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him become the second player to win the MVP trophy twice.
Driussi was the runner-up to Mukhtar last season. He netted 22 goals and helped lead Austin FC to the conference finals in the playoffs. If Driussi is able to lead Austin FC to a championship this season, he just may end up winning the MVP.
The 22-year-old forward for Dallas FC might have been the most improved player in MLS last season. After scoring just 8 goals in 2021, Ferreira more than doubled his output in 2022 with 18 goals. The 18 goals helped him rank 4th in goals in MLS, right behind fellow MVP candidates Mukhtar and Driussi. If he continues his exponential growth this season, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him win the MVP. If he wins the MVP, he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps. In 2010, Ferreira’s dad, David Ferreira, won the MLS MVP — also for FC Dallas.
Vázquez is a bit of a dark horse in the MVP race, but his recent growth as a player deserves to be recognized. After years of being stuck on Atlanta United’s bench, he’s finally gotten a chance to shine on FC Cincinnati. In 2021, Vázquez played in a career-high 31 matches for FC Cincinnati, which was one less match than he played in for Atlanta United over a three-year period (32 matches between 2017-2019). However, he only managed to score 4 goals in 2021. In 2022, he completely broke out, netting 18 goals and being named to the MLS Best XI. His persistence, hard work and patience helped him evolve into a real MVP candidate. He was even considered for a spot on the US Men’s National Team during the last World Cup.
What are the top storylines of the 2023 MLS season?
- As of today, Major League Soccer has 29 teams across North America. Late last year, Commissioner Don Garber revealed that MLS is planning to finalize its 30th team sometime in the first half of 2023. It’s looking like the 30th team will either be in San Diego or Las Vegas. San Diego seems to make the most sense right now with how much fan support the National Women’s Soccer League’s team, the San Diego Wave, and the Major League Baseball’s team, the San Diego Padres, have been receiving. Also, the San Diego Loyal are currently playing in the United Soccer League — a Division II league, below MLS — so MLS could just promote the Loyal to the big leagues . “I’m a big believer in San Diego,” Garber said. “ … I think there’s a view that San Diego, it’s too nice there and people are out surfing and hanging out at the beach and I just don’t buy it. I think San Diego’s a great sports market, it’s a gateway city.”
- While we’re on the topic of MLS expansion, 2023 will feature the debut of St. Louis City SC — the 29th team in MLS. It’s always a lot of fun seeing how expansion teams perform in their debut season. Most struggle, but some teams, like LAFC, manage to break through and become powerhouses right away.
- MLS fans across North America have September 23 circled on their calendar, as LAFC and the Philadelphia Union are going to play each other for the first time since their epic MLS Cup 2022 Final matchup. Many fans consider last year’s championship match to be the best match in the history of MLS. As we mentioned above, the Philadelphia Union seemed like they were set to become champions until Gareth Bale headed home an equalizer in extra time. After tying the match, LAFC’s backup keeper, John McCarthy, put on a clinic during penalty kicks. McCarthy’s heroic efforts helped seal the deal for LAFC, and they brought home their first championship in franchise history. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see these two squads play in the MLS Cup 2023 Finals. We can’t wait for September 23.
- Is LAFC going to become a dynasty? Last season, they won the MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield (team with the most regular season wins). Recently, LAFC General Manager John Thorrington talked about LAFC’s desire to win more than just the MLS Cup and the Shield. “In order to prepare for that challenge, we have definitely had a targeted approach as to the types of players who we think can be relied upon to play multiple games in some weeks, and do so at a consistently high level,” Thorrington said. “So I’d say not just the Leagues Cup, but the Leagues Cup combined with Campeones Cup. We have [Concacaf] Champions League. We will try to make a good run at [US] Open Cup, at Supporters’ Shield, at playoffs, all the rest of it.”
How to Watch MLS
The recent partnership between DIRECTV For BUSINESS and Apple brings MLS Season Pass to 300,000 bars and restaurants. Which means there are even more places to watch the next match. Find your local bar with the DIRECTV Sports Bar Finder App.
MLS 2023 Schedule
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