How each MLS team could use time travel to change 2022

Quick Hits
  • What if, and go with us here, MLS teams could go back in time? How would each team in the league use time travel to change their 2022 seasons for the better?
  • Today, we’re putting our imagination hat on and playing out one time traveling scenario for each team in MLS
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Most people don’t know this, but Albert Einstein’s famous Theory of Relativity actually proposes that time travel is possible. What Einstein did not investigate – at least not that we know of – was how MLS teams could utilize time travel to their own competitive advantage. So instead of going back in time to really change the world for the better, I’m going to look into how each MLS team could use time travel to change the course of their 2022 season.

Let’s get after it.

Atlanta United

Objective: Start Josef Martínez and Gonzalo Pineda on couples therapy

Was Pineda justified in suspending Martinez for overturning a table of chicken and rice in the locker room? Of course. But while Martinez does look less physically dynamic after coming back from knee surgery, he’s still Atlanta’s leading scorer and his replacement Ronaldo Cisneros hasn’t scored since mid-July. 

With Martinez potentially under contract next season with the club holding a team-option, my solution to Atlanta’s problems is to go back in time and get Martinez and Pineda some couples therapy before the season. Improving that relationship dynamic and communication with an impartial sounding board could be just what Martinez and Pineda need to get past their roadblocks. 

The good news for Atlanta United is that there is a therapist within walking distance of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Plus, Josef and Gonzalo could probably walk to a Waffle House afterwards.

Austin FC

Objective: End soccer analytics

I wrote a few weeks ago about how drastically Austin FC and Sebastian Driussi are overperforming their underlying numbers. People have been writing about this all season and Austin FC supporters are tired of hearing about it. 

The only solution I could think of was to send a T-1000 back in time to eliminate soccer analytics bloggers. Now that there’s a podcast detailing the origins of soccer analytics blogging, we have all we need to send a cyborg assassin back in time to eliminate any narrative of their overperformance before a single word is even written.

Charlotte FC

Objective: Come up with a better expansion plan

The fact that Charlotte isn’t going to win the Wooden Spoon is a fantastic achievement considering all the turmoil the club has faced this year. Going back in time to hire a front office/manager combination that is actually in-sync, along with better foreign recruitment might lead to Charlotte sneaking into the playoffs.

Chicago Fire FC

Objective: Soldier Field takeover

Let me preface this section by saying that I believe Joe Mansueto is already engaged in time warfare to help secure Soldier Field as the permanent home for the Chicago Fire. With the Bears looking to leave for the suburbs, renovating Soldier Field into a soccer-specific stadium would be a huge boon for both the Fire and American soccer. 

Watching the U.S. national teams on the lakeside in a stadium with Soldier Field’s history would be truly special.

If you watched all the other football this weekend, it can’t be a coincidence that the Bears had some stadium problems. That’s time travel sabotage at its finest, folks.

FC Cincinnati

Objective: Find defensive help sooner

Cincy’s attacking trio of Brenner, Brandon Vazquez, and Luciano Acosta is as good as any other trio in the league. However, Cincinnati has been teetering on the playoff line mainly because of their leaky defense. They’ve allowed 49 goals this season, which puts them fourth from bottom in the East. Sending some time traveling defensive help to them in the beginning of the season would accelerate their rebuilding efforts.

Colorado Rapids

Objective: Recruit ghosts to haunt Stan Kroenke 

It’s become clear over the years that ownership has been the biggest impediment to the Rapid’s success. 

Robin Fraser and Padraig Smith have done a remarkable job despite the lack of spending and investment from Stan Kroenke, but we can help them out here thanks to time travel. Once we develop the technology to conjure and recruit ghosts, I’m planning to send the Ghost of MLS Past, the Ghost of MLS Present, and the Ghost of MLS Yet to Come to haunt owner Stan Kroenke on Decision Day until he commits to becoming more generous in his spending on the Rapids’ roster.

Columbus Crew

Objective: Get more Cucho

The Cucho Hernandez-Lucas Zelarayan connection has been absolutely electric for the Columbus Crew. According to American Soccer Analysis, the Crew ranked 22nd in the league with 20 goals scored before Cucho’s debut on July 9. Since July 9, the Crew are tied for 10th in the league with 20 goals scored. Getting Cucho out of Watford and to Columbus at the beginning of the season would be a godsend for the Columbus Crew.

DC United

Objective: Prevent hiring Hernan Losada

Going back in time to prevent DC from hiring Hernán Losada is probably the most concrete improvement they could make. Their former manager wasn’t the only issue facing DC, but it certainly would have sped up the rebuilding process if the front office had picked the right person to succeed Ben Olsen.

FC Dallas

Objective: Figure out how to beat Vancouver

FC Dallas lost twice this season to the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. Figuring out to beat Whitecaps would have Dallas sitting in second place above Austin FC. And isn’t that what really matters here? There’s no point to time travel if you can’t use it to get a leg up on your in-state rivals.

Houston Dynamo

Objective: Overhaul the roster

Last week, the Dynamo fired manager Paulo Nagamura after spending big money on Hector Herrera and Sebastián Ferreira. Despite those two signings, Houston are still hanging out near the bottom of the Western Conference. The Dynamo need to find Herrera and Ferreira a more talented supporting cast in the present, so why not go back and do some of that in the past?

LA Galaxy

Objective: Stop Chicharito from taking penalties

The LA Galaxy are flirting with missing the playoffs. If that happens, everyone is going to talk about the points LA dropped thanks to Chicharito’s missed penalty kicks. 

According to ASA, Chicharito has only a 50% success rate on 6 penalties this year and has missed 1.64 more goals than expected. This is the worst mark in the league. Going back in time to tell Greg Vanney to get someone else on penalty duty might actually save the Galaxy’s season.

LAFC

Objective: Get Gareth Bale out of his funk

After being the definitive best team in MLS for much of the season, the wheels have fallen off the LAFC wagon. The Black and Gold have only come away with four points in their last six games and have ceded control of the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union. Worryingly, star Gareth Bale doesn’t have any goals or assists during that six game stretch, so figuring out how to get the Welshman contributing will greatly aid LAFC’s trophy chances.

Inter Miami

Objective: Learn to cheat properly

Much of Inter Miami’s struggles this year have been tied to the stiff penalties that were levied against them after they circumvented league roster rules to sign five designated players. Going back in time to show Inter Miami how to cheat the right way would have given Phil Neville’s squad millions in cap space this season.

Minnesota United

Objective: Time-nap Djordje Petrovic

This year was shaping up to be Dayne St. Clair’s breakout season. And in some ways, it has been. He’s been one of the best shot-stoppers in all of MLS in 2022 according to FBref’s post-shot expected goals metric. But there’s a newer, younger, shinier goalkeeper on the block now: New England’s Djordje Petrovic. If St. Clair is putting up excellent numbers, Petrovic is putting up absolutely absurd “did we even need Matt Turner” numbers. 

For Minnesota United, the goal here is to kidnap Petrovic at some point on the timeline before he arrives in New England. If the mission succeeds, 2022 really will be St. Clair’s year.

CF Montréal

Objective: Make an upgrade in goal

The crazy thing about Montréal’s second place spot in the Eastern Conference is that they should actually have even more points. According to FBref, Montréal’s goalkeepers have saved 8.3 fewer goals than expected, with only DC and Vancouver having worse marks. Traveling through time to sign a better keeper than Sebastian Breza would make Montréal a legitimate Supporters’ Shield contender this year.

Nashville SC

Objective: Find scoring help for Hany

Hany Mukhtar is the favorite for this year’s MVP award, at least partially because he’s scored 22 of Nashville’s 49 goals for a whopping 45% goal contribution rate. That’s great for Mukhtar’s MVP candidacy, but not so great for Nashville SC. 

Let’s go back and find Nashville someone not named Ake Loba to help ease Mukhtar’s scoring burden, shall we?

New England Revolution

Objective: Bring back the Crayola Crest

It may look like clip art designed by my son (who’s in kindergarten), but here are the facts: last year the New England Revolution won the Supporters’ Shield and set an MLS regular season points record with their original flag crest. This year with their new “modern” crest badge, they might not even make the playoffs. 

I don’t make the rules. It’s time to bring back the Crayola Crest.

New York Red Bulls

Objective: Revise the Kyoto Protocol

Okay, so the Kyoto Protocol was an international agreement made by 84 countries to reduce greenhouse gasses in an effort to curb global warming. However, the two largest polluters, China and the U.S., weren’t bound by the agreement. Going back in time to make the Kyoto Protocol a worthwhile agreement would help the planet combat global warming and help the New York Red Bulls’ press. 

The Red Bull’s worst stretch this season came in the hottest part of the summer when they didn’t dial down the press and went five weeks with only a single win.

New York City FC

Objective: Make Keaton Parks a bionic leg

Given NYCFC’s recent struggles, it’s easy to say signing a Taty Castellanos replacement should be the time travel priority. But all the injuries along NYCFC’s spine, including Keaton Parks and his second blood clot, are equally (if not more) concerning. 

Making Parks a bionic leg would help keep New York City’s best ball progresser on the field.

Orlando City

Objective: Follow @USLTactics on Twitter

Orlando City got caught trying to spy on the Sacramento Republic’s practice before the U.S. Open Cup Final. Why spy on your opponent when you could just follow John Morrissey on Twitter and get a tactical breakdown on every team in the USL? Think smarter, not harder, Orlando.

Philadelphia Union

Objective: Find blackmail on Jim Curtin

It’s hard to argue that you should go back in time and change something when you are currently leading the Supporters’ Shield race and are the hottest team in MLS. No, the Union should use their time traveling opportunity to dig up some dirt on their head coach Jim Curtin just in case he tries to leave Philly and head to Europe any time soon.

Don’t mess with Philly.

Portland Timbers

Objective: THIS SECTION HAS BEEN SEIZED BY THE TIME POLICE

I was going to toss a “what could’ve been/Jeremy Ebobisse” tweet up here and call it good, but the Time Police have informed me that Merrit Paulson and Gavin Wilkinson have been prohibited from using time travel to change the past because that’s what they are trying to do in the present.

Real Salt Lake

Objective: Rewrite “Believe”

One of the most interesting Real Salt Lake facts out there is that the drummer from Rancid, Branden Steineckert, wrote their chant “Believe”. I think we need an updated version of this chant that factors in the Pablo Mastroeni age. So why not go back in time to convince Steineckert to add a stanza on stats losing to the human spirit every day of the week?

San Jose Earthquakes

Objective: Let Matias Almeyda take the Chile job

Before the 2021 season there seemed to be a very realistic possibility of former San Jose Earthquakes manager and man-marking truther Matias Almeyda taking the open Chile National Team job. After how things have gone for the Quakes recently, it seems like that would’ve been best for everyone.

Seattle Sounders

Objective: Find and dispel the curse

Look, I can say without much doubt that the Seattle Sounders were cursed at some point during their run in the Concacaf Champions League this season. That’s the only explanation for why the Sounders have failed to embark on their usual summer run that catapults them into a top playoff season. The problem is that we don’t really know the source of the curse. 

If the organization can prioritize finding the source, a high-level spellcaster can be sent back in time to dispel the curse and save Seattle’s season.

Sporting Kansas City

Objective: Sign a striker sooner

When Sporting Kansas City announced that Designated Player Alan Pulido would miss 2022 with a knee injury, Khiry Shelton got the first chance to replace the Mexican star at the striker position. It quickly became clear that neither Shelton nor offseason signing Nikola Vujnovic were the solution that SKC needed. Shelton only managed to score two goals in MLS play over 1,400 minutes up top. However, after signing forward William Agada in July, SKC have had an offensive renaissance with Agada scoring five goals in seven starts. 

It’s easy to see that going back and signing a quality striker in January to replace Pulido would have made Sporting a totally different team.

Toronto FC

Objective: Get rid of the spending restrictions

Adding stars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi has made Toronto one of the most interesting teams in MLS, but they’re almost certainly going to miss the playoffs despite those high-profile additions. Toronto have never been afraid to make big signings, but splashing cash has its limits when you can only use it for a limited number of players. 

With TFC’s willingness to spend, getting rid of the Designated Player rule and other roster restrictions would be a great benefit to Bob Bradley’s rebuild.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Objective: Force Toronto to relive the Canadian Championship

It’s basically like Groundhog Day, but everyone in Toronto wakes up to a shirtless Vanni Sartini telling them “it is okay to lose sometimes” in Italian.