Major League Soccer 2024 season preview

Can you believe the 2024 Major League Soccer season starts *checks notes* tomorrow?? Neither can we. When Inter Miami and Real Salt Lake kick off the year on Wednesday evening, it will have been just 74 days since Columbus Crew lifted MLS Cup, making this the shortest offseason in league history.

Ahead of the year, we’re breaking down the 2024 MLS season. Ben Wright, Chris Ivey, Jeff Remlinger, Jonathan Slape, Josh Young and Valair Shabilla each make their predictions. We’ll have a Nashville SC-centric preview later.

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Western Conference

1. Seattle Sounders

Last year: 2nd in West | 53 points (14W-11D-9L)
Average predicted positioning: 1.3
Highest positioning: 1 (Ben, Chris, Slape, Valair)
Lowest positioning: 2 (Jeff, Josh)

The lowdown: It’s the end of an era in Seattle, moving on from club legend Nico Lodeiro and signing Pedro de la Vega, an exciting young DP winger. Seattle have the most complete and deepest squad in the Western Conference, and with most of the conference in flux, they’re a head above.

2. Los Angeles FC

Last year: 3rd in West | 52 points (14W-10D-10L) | MLS Cup runners up
Average predicted positioning: 2.2
Highest positioning: 1 (Jeff)
Lowest positioning: 3 (Josh)

The lowdown: LAFC are consistently one of MLS’s most dominant teams. Under Steve Cherundolo they’ve become more pragmatic but equally effective, falling to Columbus Crew in MLS Cup last season. They still have some work to do on their roster, but the talent and pedigree is undeniable.

3. Houston Dynamo

Last year: 4th in West | 51 points (14W-9D-11L) | U.S. Open Cup winners
Average predicted positioning: 4.2
Highest positioning: 1 (Josh)
Lowest positioning: 9 (Ben)

The lowdown: Houston surprised MLS in their first year under Ben Olsen, playing the most attractive soccer in the league and winning silverware. They weren’t a particularly deep squad to begin with, and will be without Héctor Herrera to start the year and Nelson Quiñónes for the season.

4. Vancouver Whitecaps

Last year: 6th in West | 48 points (12W-12D-10L)
Average predicted positioning: 4.4
Highest positioning: 3 (Chris)
Lowest positioning: 6 (Slape)

The lowdown: Vancouver have quietly assembled one of the deeper rosters in the West, and have plenty of veteran experience to mix with some exciting in-prime talent. They’re already out of Concacaf Champions Cup and can solely focus on the league. Don’t be surprised if they finish high in the table.

5. FC Dallas

Last year: 7th in West | 46 points (11W-13D-10L)
Average predicted positioning: 5.3
Highest positioning: 4 (Chris)
Lowest positioning: 8 (Valair)

The lowdown: Dallas have switched to a 3-4-2-1 look under Nico Estevez, giving Jesus Ferreira more of a free role. It’s a new look for a team with one of the best academy pipelines in the country. Most importantly, though, they spent a massive transfer fee on 25-year-old striker Petar Musa. The Croatian national teamer should be one of the top goal scorers in the league.

6. Sporting KC

Last year: 8th in West | 51 points (12W-8D-14L)
Average predicted positioning: 6.5
Highest positioning: 4 (Slape, Valair)
Lowest positioning: 11 (Jeff)

The lowdown: Sporting KC have been fairly up-and-down in recent seasons, but they have a solid roster and have brought in a few complementary pieces this offseason. Their biggest move was re-signing DP striker Alan Pulido, who has struggled with injuries since joining the team but should be one of the best no. 9s in MLS if he can stay healthy.

7. LA Galaxy

Last year: 13th in West | 36 points (8W-12D-14L)
Average predicted positioning: 8.0
Highest positioning: 3 (Ben)
Lowest positioning: 14 (Chris)

The lowdown: The Galaxy were one of the worst teams in MLS last season, failing to qualify for the playoffs. They brought in former LAFC executive Will Kuntz as their chief soccer officer and have been ambitious in the winter window, bringing in wingers Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec to complement Riqui Puig, one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league. While their defense is a huge question, they have the firepower to offset it at the other end of the pitch.

8. Real Salt Lake

Last year: 5th in West | 50 points (14W-8L-12D)
Average predicted positioning: 8.3
Highest positioning: 6 (Chris)
Lowest positioning: 12 (Josh)

The lowdown: It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how RSL play under Pablo Mastroeni, but the vibes are strong. Diego Luna is one of the most exciting young players in MLS, and Chicho Arango is a proven goal scorer. They have pieces to be dangerous, but their depth may not be enough to sustain top four pace.

9. Colorado Rapids

Last year: 8th in West | 51 points (12W-8D-14L)
Average predicted positioning: 9.3
Highest positioning: 6 (Josh)
Lowest positioning: 12 (Ben, Chris)

The lowdown: Colorado haven’t had much success in recent years, but brought in Chris Armas to turn things around, and have been ambitious; Djordje Mihailovic, Omir Fernandez and Sam Vines were all brought in this winter, as well as a handful of other players. Will this newfound ambition be enough for a playoff spot?

10. St. Louis City SC

Last year: 1st in West | 56 points (17W-5D-12L)
Average predicted positioning: 9.5
Highest positioning: 8 (Josh)
Lowest positioning: 11 (Ben, Valair)

The lowdown: St. Louis shocked the league last year, becoming the first expansion team to win a conference in their first year. The have a clear identity under Bradley Carnell, but without a ton of elite-level talent or depth, could they be due for an Austin-esque regression?

11. Portland Timbers

Last year: 10th in West | 43 points (11W-10D-13L)
Average predicted positioning: 10.5
Highest positioning: 6 (Valair)
Lowest positioning: 13 (Ben)

The lowdown: Portland have overhauled their team this year, moving on from players like Sebastian Blanco and Yimmi Chara, and bringing in Kamal Miller and Maxime Crépeau to bolster the backline. Phil Neville is the new manager, although his track record in MLS is not exactly stellar. They have a lot to prove this year, but with two open DP spots and ambitious spending, they could quickly improve.

12. Minnesota United

Last year: 11th in West | 41 points (10W-11D-13L)
Average predicted positioning: 11.3
Highest positioning: 7 (Ben)
Lowest positioning: 14 (Slape)

The lowdown: Minnesota are a team in flux, firing Adrian Heath last year. Their new sporting director still isn’t with the Loons full time, and they don’t have a head coach with the season just days away. They’re linked with Manchester United assistant Eric Ramsay, who would be one of the more exciting names in MLS, and have plenty of talent on their roster. Like Portland, they could overperform significantly.

13. Austin FC

Last year: 12th in West | 39 points (10W-9D-15L)
Average predicted positioning: 12
Highest positioning: 8 (Jeff)
Lowest positioning: 14 (Ben, Valair)

The lowdown: Austin overperformed in year one and underperformed in year two. They often play attractive soccer and generate plenty of chances, but other than Sebastian Driussi, their top-end attackers haven’t produced. They’ve banked on Diego Rubio being healthy enough to produce, and currently their depth is quite thin.

14. San Jose Earthquakes

Last year: 12th in West | 39 points (10W-9D-15L)
Average predicted positioning: 12.2
Highest positioning: 10 (Ben)
Lowest positioning: 14 (Josh)

The lowdown: The Quakes have plenty of talent coming through their youth academy, and Cristian Espinoza is a dark horse MVP candidate. They also brought in Amahl Pellegrino, a serial goal scorer in the Norwegian top flight. Some of the pieces are intriguing, but is it enough?

Eastern Conference

1. Columbus Crew

Last year: 3rd in East | 57 points (16W-9D-9L) | MLS Cup winners
Average predicted positioning: 1.5
Highest positioning: 1 (Ben, Chris, Slape, Josh)
Lowest positioning: 3 (Valair)

The lowdown: The Crew have one of the most dynamic frontlines in MLS, an elite midfield, and play some of the most daring and attractive soccer in the league under Wilfried Nancy. They were elite last year. They’ll be elite again this year.

2. FC Cincinnati

Last year: 1st in East | 69 points (20W-9D-5L) | Supporters’ Shield winners
Average predicted positioning: 3.0
Highest positioning: 2 (Josh, Valair)
Lowest positioning: 5 (Chris)

The lowdown: Cincinnati came close to the single-season points record last year, and return the majority of their core. They have lost a few key players, with Brandon Vazquez and Yerson Mosquera departing, but have brought in Corey Baird, Miles Robinson and Pavel Bucha. With a consistent vision under Pat Noonan, they’ll be one of the best in the East again.

3. Inter Miami CF

Last year: 14th in East | 34 points (9W-7D-18L) | Leagues Cup winners
Average predicted positioning: 3.5
Highest positioning: 1 (Valair)
Lowest positioning: 6 (Josh)

The lowdown: Miami have assembled one of the best and deepest rosters ever seen in MLS. They’ve brought in Luis Suárez, Julian Gressel, Nicolás Freire and others to bolster their attack, and they have a master tactician at the helm in Tata Martino. Oh, yeah… they also have Lionel Messi.

4. Atlanta United

Last year: 6th in East | 51 points (13W-12D-9L)
Average predicted positioning: 4.0
Highest positioning: 1 (Jeff)
Lowest positioning: 7 (Josh)

The lowdown: Atlanta have an elite attack, with Thiago Almada pulling the strings and Giorgios Giakoumakis banging in the goals. They have loads of talent on the wings and in midfield, and while their defense is somewhat susceptible, they have all the makings of an Eastern Conference contender.

5. Philadelphia Union

Last year: 4th in East | 55 points (15W-10D-9L)
Average predicted positioning: 4.7
Highest positioning: 3 (Josh)
Lowest positioning: 7 (Jeff)

The lowdown: The Union are running it back. They resigned Kai Wagner and Alejandro Bedoya, and with the addition of a couple depth pieces, it’s essentially the same team as last year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a Philadelphia side that has been one of the league’s best for the last half-decade.

6. Orlando City SC

Last year: 2nd in East | 63 points (18W-9D-7L)
Average predicted positioning: 5.0
Highest positioning: 3 (Chris)
Lowest positioning: 6 (Slape, Valair)

The lowdown: Orlando were among the league’s best last season, thanks to a breakout campaign from rookie forward Duncan McGuire. He’s back with the Lions after a deadline day transfer to Blackburn fell through, and they’ve added Luis Muriel and Nico Lodeiro to bolster their attack. They should be very good once again.

7. Nashville SC

Last year: 7th in East | 49 points (13W-10D-11L) | Leagues Cup runners up
Average predicted positioning: 7.3
Highest positioning: 5 (Jeff, Josh)
Lowest positioning: 10 (Slape)

The lowdown: The Coyotes made a few changes to their squad, bringing in Dru Yearwood, Tyler Boyd and McKinze Gaines to replace the departing Dax McCarty and Fafà Picault. They may try more of a press, but they’re essentially banking on the idea that their second-half slump last season was a fluke and the Supporters’ Shield contending team in the first half is the real Nashville. It’s a risky move in an Eastern Conference that’s rapidly improving.

8. New York Red Bulls

Last year: 8th in East | 43 points (11W-10D-13L)
Average predicted positioning: 7.7
Highest positioning: 7 (Ben, Chris, Slape)
Lowest positioning: 9 (Josh)

The lowdown: The Red Bulls had some of the best underlying metrics last season but could never quite put it together. With Sandro Schwarz taking over as manager and Emil Forsberg coming in to revamp their attack, they have a new edge to one of the best defensive units in MLS.

9. New England Revolution

Last year: 5th in East | 45 points (15W-10D-9L)
Average predicted positioning: 9.0
Highest positioning: 8 (Josh)
Lowest positioning: 10 (Chris)

The lowdown: The Revs are in win-now mode, bringing in Caleb Porter as manager after Bruce Arena’s messy exit last year. They have a top-tier roster in the latter stages of their prime. If they’re going to make a push for a trophy, this is the year to do it.

10. Chicago Fire

Last year: 7th in East | 49 points (13W-10D-11L)
Average predicted positioning: 10.3
Highest positioning: 8 (Slape)
Lowest positioning: 13 (Ben)

The lowdown: Chicago have never been afraid to spend; they’ve just been very, very bad at it. They’ve handed the full-time reigns over to long time assistant Frank Klopas, and they’ve invested heavily in Kellyn Acosta and club-record Hugo Cuypers, who looks set to be a Golden Boot contender. Will they actually be good again?

11. New York City FC

Last year: 11th in East | 41 points (9W-14D-11L)
Average predicted positioning: 10.5
Highest positioning: 8 (Chris)
Lowest positioning: 12 (Josh)

The lowdown: New York have some of the best young talent in the league, and they played good soccer last year. The level of investment from City Football Group is impressive, especially with 18-year-old striker Jovan Mijatović brought in. 11th may be a harsh prediction for a team that will arguably have the most talent every time the step on the pitch.

12. CF Montréal

Last year: 10th in East | 41 points (12W-5D-17L)
Average predicted positioning: 13.0
Highest positioning: 11 (Ben)
Lowest positioning: 15 (Jeff)

The lowdown: The Impact parted ways with Hernan Losada after the season, who was never a great fit. They replaced him with former Crew 2 head coach Laurent Courtois, who will instill a similar possession-based style to Wilfried Nancy’s Columbus side. It should be a significantly better season from Montréal, although perhaps a year too early in the project to be a contender.

13. D.C. United

Last year: 10th in East | 41 points (12W-5D-17L)
Average predicted positioning: 13.3
Highest positioning: 12 (Ben, Valair)
Lowest positioning: 15 (Jeff)

The lowdown: It’s a complete rebuild from the Black & Red. Ally Mackay is the new CSO and Troy Lesesne is the man on the touchline. Christian Benteke is still an elite MLS striker at 33-years-old, and they continue to develop young talent to pipe into the team. The roster still has a lot of holes, and it may be too early in the rebuild process for them to be truly good in 2024. Don’t bet against them as a dark horse, though.

14. Toronto FC

Last year: 15th in East | 22 points (4W-10D-20L)
Average predicted positioning: 13.5
Highest positioning: 11 (Josh)
Lowest positioning: 15 (Ben, Valair)

The lowdown: Toronto were bad last season. Historically bad. Bob Bradley is out, John Herdman is in, and the Italians are still here. The roster has so many holes it’s almost impossible to cover here. Herdman should bring some stability, but he has a ton of work to do to get this team back to a competitive place. Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi are still some of the most talented players in the league, and if they can find form it may be enough to haul Toronto into the postseason.

15. Charlotte FC

Last year: 9th in East | 43 points (10W-13D-11L)
Average predicted positioning: 13.7
Highest positioning: 12 (Jeff)
Lowest positioning: 15 (Chris)

The lowdown: Charlotte are overhauling the squad that debuted in 2022, bringing in manager Dean Smith and offloading underperforming DPs Karol Świderski and Kamil Jóźwiak. Some of the pieces on their roster are intriguing, and Smith should raise the floor, but they’ll need to survive the first half of the year and hope for a homerun summer transfer window.

Team awards

MLS Cup winner

Ben Wright: Inter Miami
Chris Ivey: Inter Miami
Jeff Remlinger: Inter Miami
Jonathan Slape: LAFC
Josh Young: Columbus Crew
Valair Shabilla: Inter Miami

Supporters’ Shield winner

Ben Wright: Seattle Sounders
Chris Ivey: Seattle Sounders
Jeff Remlinger: Atlanta United
Jonathan Slape: Seattle Sounders
Josh Young: Columbus Crew
Valair Shabilla: Seattle Sounders

Leagues Cup winner

Ben Wright: Columbus Crew
Chris Ivey: Club América 
Jeff Remlinger: Club América 
Jonathan Slape: Club América 
Josh Young: Inter Miami
Valair Shabilla: Club América

Concacaf Champions Cup winner

Ben Wright: CF Monterrey
Chris Ivey: Tigres
Jeff Remlinger: Club América 
Jonathan Slape: CF Monterrey
Josh Young: CF Monterrey
Valair Shabilla: Philadelphia Union 

Individual awards

MLS Golden Boot

Ben Wright: Cucho Hernández
Chris Ivey: Giorgos Giakoumakis
Jeff Remlinger: Giorgos Giakoumakis 
Jonathan Slape: Giorgos Giakoumakis
Josh Young: Lionel Messi
Valair Shabilla: Giorgos Giakoumakis

MLS Defender of the Year

Ben Wright: Jackson Ragen
Chris Ivey: Yeimar
Jeff Remlinger: Matt Miazga
Jonathan Slape: Miles Robinson
Josh Young: Álvaro Barreal
Valair Shabilla: Yeimar

MLS Goalkeeper of the Year

Ben Wright: Daniel
Chris Ivey: Drake Callendar
Jeff Remlinger: Andre Blake
Jonathan Slape: Andre Blake
Josh Young: Roman Bürki
Valair Shabilla: Maxime Crépeau

MLS Young Player of the Year

Ben Wright: Diego Luna
Chris Ivey: Diego Luna
Jeff Remlinger: Brian Gutiérrez
Jonathan Slape: Diego Luna
Josh Young: Brian Gutiérrez
Valair Shabilla: Obed Vargas

MLS Newcomer of the Year

Ben Wright: Gabriel Pec
Chris Ivey: Luis Suárez
Jeff Remlinger: Joseph Paintsil
Jonathan Slape: Luis Suárez
Josh Young: Emil Forsberg
Valair Shabilla: Luis Suárez 

MLS Coach of the Year

Ben Wright: Wilfried Nancy
Chris Ivey: Wilfried Nancy
Jeff Remlinger: Óscar Pareja
Jonathan Slape: Brian Schmetzer
Josh Young: Wilfried Nancy
Valair Shabilla: Brian Schmetzer 


Ben Wright: Lionel Messi
Chris Ivey: Lionel Messi
Jeff Remlinger: Giorgos Giakoumakis
Jonathan Slape: Lionel Messi
Josh Young: Riqui Puig
Valair Shabilla: Cucho Hernández 

Author: Ben Wrightis the Director of Soccer Content and a Senior MLS Contributor for Broadway Sports covering Nashville SC and the US National Team. Previously Ben was the editor and a founder of Speedway Soccer, where he has covered Nashville SC and their time in USL before journeying to Major League Soccer since 2018. Raised in Louisville, KY Ben grew up playing before a knee injury ended his competitive career. When he is not talking soccer he is probably producing music, drinking coffee or hanging out with his wife and kids. Mastodon

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