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MLS top 10 players for the 2022 season

MLS top 10 players for the 2022 season

MLS season 2022 is rapidly approaching, so let’s take a peek ahead and examine the league’s top players.

Of course, offensive prowess gets all the attention, but that’s only part of the story as we survey the league for the best players overall.

There was a lot of great talent that didn’t make the cut, but these 10 players represent the cream of the crop as Major League Soccer opens its 27th season of play.

MLS (Major League Soccer0 opens its 27th season of play

A list of Honorable Mentions follows the top 10 players in the league as we enter 2022. This season will tell us if they are worth investing on for your squad.

1. Josef Martinez (FW, Atlanta United)

Martinez also declined significantly from the previous season, like Vela. Even though he didn’t play as often as Vela did, he still scored double-digit goals for the season.

Even still, Atlanta United’s attack is not as potent as it once was, demonstrating that it takes more than one superstar to make a team successful.

Martinez is still one of the most dangerous players in the league, if not the most dangerous. The club recognized his need for a scoring boost and recently made significant investments in Thiago Almada and Luiz Araujo. While Almada is a player for the future who still has room to grow, Araujo has already demonstrated his potential by contributing to the team’s success in the MLS.

How well, and how consistently, Martinez performs for Atlanta United next season will be crucial in determining whether or not the club challenges for the Eastern Conference championship or barely make the playoffs and is eliminated in the first round.

2. Walker Zimmerman (CB, Nashville SC)

Walker Zimmerman’s significance to Nashville SC cannot be overstated. All you have to do is ask LAFC.

Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) dropped dramatically in the 2019 regular season after trading away defensive stalwart Walker Zimmerman to Nashville. For the 2019 season, LAFC allowed 37 goals while winning the Western Conference despite playing in 34 games. They gave up 39 goals in only 21 games in 2020, which is a significant increase (in a COVID-shortened season).

All Zimmerman accomplished in Nashville was earn MLS Defender of the Year in back-to-back years. Now, he’s a key cog in the USMNT’s drive to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

At age 28, Zimmerman has established himself as one of the top players in the league, making him an invaluable asset.

3. Xherdan Shaqiri (CM/LW, Chicago Fire)

Shaqiri, like Insigne, arrives in MLS after struggling with a European team. During his tenure at Lyon, he fell farther and further out of favor with the team.

While the Italian took his time deciding whether or not to move to the United States, Shaqiri has the benefit of the entire schedule to adjust to his new league. Chicago has made several changes this summer to get younger, and Shaqiri’s addition will be a big help for the young players on the team. However, making an impact on the field will be his primary priority.

Shaqiri should be able to score 15-20 goals and dish out 10+ assists this season.

4. Lorenzo Insigne (FW, Toronto FC)

Despite not joining Toronto FC until the middle of the season, Insigne still ranks among the top half of this list due to the magnitude of his acquisition.

Even still, the Italian has much to prove. With recurring calf and adductor ailments, he had a miserable season with Napoli, scoring just six goals in 20 games. By the time he reaches Canada, he will have turned 31.

While Insigne has been a mainstay in Roberto Mancini’s squad since 2016, he will need to show that he still has plenty of gas in the tank if Italy is to make it through a challenging qualification path and make the 2022 World Cup.

5. Carlos Vela (FW, LAFC)

Carlos Vela’s hamstring issue plagued his 2021 season, starting in September and continuing through October.

There were already warning indications before he went overseas, as he had only scored five goals and sent out five assists in 17 games. Vela, who is 32 years old and on the last year of his deal, needs a breakout year to show that he is still one of the league’s most dangerous attackers.

It cannot be denied, though, that Vela has been responsible for some of the most memorable moments in modern Major League Soccer history. Almost all of his goal contributions from the previous year came within a single 11-game period in which he showed signs of his finest form. When Vela is playing like that, neither LAFC nor any other team stands a chance.

6. Valentin Castellanos (FW, NYCFC)

There is no shortage of attackers in this group, but it would be unfair to exclude the current Golden Boot winner.

Castellanos, who led the league in scoring with 22 goals (including playoffs) last season while also playing an absurd 3,000 minutes, scored twice in the opening round of the CONCACAF Champions League before the MLS season had started.

The 23-year-old Argentine is one of the league’s top young players and has a bright future ahead of him. Although it’s unlikely Luis Scaloni will want to introduce fresh players so close to the big dance, he could get a call-up to the Argentina national team in the near future. If his current form holds, he will certainly be in the running for that recognition.

7. Hany Mukhtar (ACM, Nashville SC)

Mukhtar’s 2021 season will be hard to top as a leap from mediocre to league star.

Mukhtar’s career took off after a slow start due to the COVID-shortened 2020 season (he scored four goals and dished out three assists in 15 games), but he had a breakout year in 2021 (he scored sixteen goals and dished out ten assists) and was a major factor in the second half of the season and the playoffs, earning him MVP consideration.

8. Carles Gil (CM, New England Revolution)

The New England playmaker had a fantastic year before an injury in August cut his season short. He finished with four goals and a league-leading 18 assists. Despite that, the league’s MVP award went to him.

There is no denying that at age 29, Spain’s Gil is one of the league’s most dangerous attacking midfielders.

9. Luiz Araujo (FW, Atlanta United)

Though he only joined the league on August 6, 2021 (when he was signed by the Atlanta Braves), Araujo quickly became a fan favorite in the second part of the 2020 season. Araujo, who is only 25 years old, is incredibly versatile because he can play back in midfield, up forward, or on the right side of the attacking line.

Atlanta United’s forward line might be a formidable attacking force in 2022 if Araujo can replicate his “magic” on the field, as described by MLS reporter Sam Jones.

10. Maxi Moralez (CM, NYCFC)

While NYCFC’s leading scorer from last season, Valentin “Taty” Castellanos, deserves most of the credit for the club’s success, the real motor behind the scenes for the reigning MLS Cup champions is a player often overlooked.

Maxi Moralez is the finest passer in the league when playing in the center of the field, and he was the game-changer for his team for almost 2,800 minutes last season. It’s hard to believe that at age 34, he can keep up such numbers, but if he can, NYCFC has a great shot of defending their title.

Similar to how each striker depends on the contributions of his teammates, Castellanos’ goal total is highly dependent on Moralez’s performance.

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