Now with the dust settling on the 2021 season as New York City FC won MLS Cup, it’s time to look ahead at just who will be the best MLS players to watch in 2022, from those breaking-through to their first-teams and incoming transfers.
MLS players to watch 2022
These five players are must-watch in the 2022 regular season.
Maximiliano Urruti – Austin
Maximiliano Urruti might be sticking around in Texas but is swapping Houston for Austin. The Argentine has proved himself to be one of the most talented MLS players. The former Old Boys striker has found a home in the United States with three major honors from his tenures with Dallas and Portland.
While his time at PNC Stadium with Houston was lackluster, he remained one of the better players as the team finished rock-bottom of the Western Conference standings. Austin might have only finished one position better, yet 2021 was its inaugural season.
Austin head coach Josh Wolff was questioned for his possession-based tactics as the team scored the fewest number of goals across the entire league. The arrival of Urruti on a free transfer is a direct answer to that. The Argentine has scored 74 MLS league goals – he can help the team going forward.
Hany Mukhtar – Nashville
There’s no doubt that Hany Mukhtar has put himself among the top MLS players to watch in 2022 after a stellar 2021. The former German under-21 international scored 16 goals and provided 10 assists in the regular season. After factoring in his goals in the playoffs, he finished joint-second in the season scoring charts.
English head coach Gary Smith has shown promise with his project at Nissan Stadium – seeing his team lose only four times in 34 league games. If Smith keeps the squad together, continually facilitating Mukhtar, there’s no telling how many goals he’ll score in 2022.
Rafael Czichos – Chicago
Rafael Czichos joins Chicago from FC Koln, where he played in all 17 games this season in the Bundesliga. His efforts in the backline have allowed the side to rapidly improve and keep a respectable goal difference as the club currently sits in eighth place.
1️⃣1️⃣1️⃣ games, promotion to the Bundesliga and a key figure ever since 💪
All the best in the States and thank you for some great memories, Rafa! 🔴⚪ pic.twitter.com/i51EEsveIf
— 1. FC Cologne (@fckoeln_en) January 2, 2022
Such skills will be put to good use at Soldier Field under new head coach Ezra Dickinson as Chicago was poor defensively in 2021. Dickinson, a defender himself during his playing career, knows the aspects of a great center-back.
Czichos might not be able to capture three MLS cups like his new coach but will go a long way to shape this Chicago defence.
Cade Cowell – San Jose
San Jose has had little to shout about since winning the Supporters Shield in 2012. An over-reliance on Chris Wondolowski has made the franchise brittle and relatively lackluster. Cade Cowell picks up the mantle as an American forward.
The 18-year-old showed brilliance whenever deployed as the central attacking threat, scoring three goals and providing three assists. Cowell has shown effectiveness on the left-wing and coming off the bench as well. Yet with the MLS all-time top goalscorer Wondolowski having retired, it’s time for Cowell to prove why he’s one of the best young players in MLS.
Lorenzo Insigne – Toronto
A servant to his boyhood club Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne has stuck with the club through thick and thin. Amid the club’s biggest title challenge for many years, there are widespread reports that the 30-year-old will join Toronto.
Lorenzo Insigne could be the latest Italian to join MLS 🇺🇲🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/FVcKVx8kRh
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) December 28, 2021
The captain is still an active part of the Napoli setup with only injury problems temporarily sidelining him. While the transfer won’t take place until the end of the European season, the Italian will most certainly outplay the departing Tsubasa Endoh.
Insigne will still have legs in him and will offer zip on the wings, as he should be able to adapt from Serie A efficiently. His name alone will breathe excitement into the league as he’ll instantly become one of the best MLS players to watch.