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2022 MLS Rewind: Rewriting History

The 2022 season of Major League Soccer was a rollercoaster of emotions. Philadelphia Union and Los Angeles FC had a historic campaign that included a championship game for the ages!

Individually, it was a great season for young and veteran strikers, including one that won’t be back in 2023 after announcing his retirement. On the other hand, a new wave of superstars arrived to make the league even more competitive.

LAFC's Welch forward Gareth Bale looks on
Patrick T. Fallon / AFP

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Atop the Standings

Finishing the regular season atop the standings doesn’t guarantee anything, but the Philadelphia Union and the Los Angeles FC didn’t care. Both teams were determined to rewrite history by finishing first in the Eastern and Western Conferences, which they did in great fashion.

Believe it or not, both finished with 67 points, Philly thanks to a 19-10-5 record, and LAFC thanks to a 21-4-9 record. The Union scored 72 goals, more than any other team. They were followed by LAFC with 66. Finishing first allowed both to qualify for the Conference Semifinals, the 2023 Campeones Cup, and the CONCACAF Champions League.

Prior to the start of the season, LAFC was among the betting online favorites to win the title, so they didn’t disappoint.

The big surprise in the East was CF Montreal. The Impact finished second with 65 points. That was the first time they finished on the conference podium since 2015. As for the big surprise in the West, we’ve Austin FC. Los Verdes, who started playing in 2021, finished second with 56 points. They scored 65 goals, only one less than LAFC.

We can’t talk about the regular season without including New York City FC, the team that won the MLS Cup in 2021. The Citizens finished third in the Eastern Conference with 55 points. Not bad.

The Playoffs

The Philadelphia Union suffered a bit more than expected in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against FC Cincinnati. Still, they ended up winning 1-0 thanks to a goal scored by Leon Flach at the beginning of the second half. Goalkeeper Andre Blake was named Man of the Match.

Later, they faced NYCF in the Conference Final. Curiously enough, the Union had no trouble defeating the defending champions. They came from behind to win 3-1, with Julian Carranza, Daniel Gazdag, and Cory Burke as the scorers.

As for LAFC, Carlos Vela and company defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Semis 3-2. Cristian Arango saved the day with a goal in the 93rd minute. Denis Bouanga contributed a brace.

They collided with Austin FC in the Final, and like the Union against NYCFC, they had no trouble winning 3-0.

The MLS Cup was crazy. First, it ended 3-3. Second, Union managed to even score in the 85th minute to send the game to overtime. Third, Union scored in the 124th minute and everyone thought it was over. Nevertheless, LAFC scored four minutes later to send the game to penalties. Who scored the tying goal? No other than Gareth Bale.

As if that wasn’t enough, LAFC lost Maxime Crepeau during overtime due to a red card. Even so, they ended up winning the penalty shootout 3-0 to win the MLS Cup for the first time in franchise history.

Special mention to Orlando City, the team that won the U.S. Open Cup. Winning the cup will allow the Lions to play in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Top Goalscorer

Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC) finished atop the scoring chart with 23 goals. He was followed by Sebastian Driussi (Austin FC) and Daniel Gazdag (Philadelphia Union) with 22 goals. That’s right, Gazdag was one of the main reasons for Philly’s exceptional season.

Another special mention, this time for Brenner and Brandon Vazquez, who play for FC Cincinnati and finished with 18 goals each. Brenner is 22 years old, while Brandon is 24. In other words, the future is bright in Cincy.

Javier Chicharito Hernandez (Los Angeles Galaxy) led the way with 18 goals. At 34, Chicharito did everything in his power to be included in Mexico’s team for the 2022 World Cup, but the coaching staff didn’t pay attention.

Last but not least, Gonzalo Higuain (Inter Miami) scored 16 goals in his last season. El Pipa announced his retirement mid-season. He had a great career that included spells with Real Madrid, Napoli, and Juventus.

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