We’re three days into the new year and I haven’t accidentally written '2023' instead of '2024' once. I’m very, very proud of myself.
Anyways, a new year means it’s time for predictions. With the help of my trusty crystal ball, I’ve cooked up 10 MLS predictions for 2024, ranging from big-money transfers, to breakout stars, to tactical copycats.
Let’s get to it.
Aaron Boupendza will be the best non-Messi attacker in MLS
Aaron Boupendza was absolutely unreal for FC Cincinnati after arriving in the summer. In just over 600 regular season minutes, the Gabonese striker contributed five goals and put up some of the best underlying numbers of any attacker in MLS.
Boupendza made defenders look silly in 2023 with clean off-ball movement and elite physicality. It didn’t take long for him to dethrone Brandon Vazquez to become Cincy’s primary goal scoring threat in Pat Noonan’s front two.
There were a couple of off-the-field challenges for the 27-year-old last year — and a couple of moments when he made himself look silly, instead of opposing defenders. However, Boupendza is physically and technically dominant for a higher percentage of his minutes than just about any player in MLS. Messi will rightfully soak up the accolades this year, while the Crew’s Cucho Hernandez and LAFC’s Denis Bouanga score a bunch of goals, too.
But if Boupendza looked this good during a turbulent year that featured a cross-world move, imagine what he’ll do with a few pieces of furniture in his house and a full preseason.
At least eight players will move for $10m fees
MLS will have a new record outgoing transfer fee this year once Thiago Almada moves to Europe for a big bundle of cash.
2024 won’t just be about breaking that transfer record set by Miguel Almiron’s move to Newcastle, though. No, it will also be about the sheer number of eight-figure deals involving MLS players. With more high-level talent in the league than ever before, it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see more big-money transfers (by North American standards). By my count, seven players moved from MLS to another destination for reported $10+ million fees in 2023. This year, we’ll see at least eight.
Almada will be one of them. Outside of the young Argentine, here are just some of the other names I’ve got my eyes on: