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Which MLS team has improved the most from 2021 to 2022?

After the first almost three months of the season, which MLS team has most improved its fortunes in 2022?

1 min read

This question was submitted by Gary H.

FC Cincinnati. It’s FC Cincinnati.

Part of that, of course, is due to the absolute void that FC Cincinnati had constructed for itself over the past several years. A crater filled with ineptitude where you normally put the soccer stuff. The lowest of lights was the three game stretch in October, 2021 where they conceded 15 goals in three games over the course of just one week. That included an impressive 5-1 loss to Miami, impressive because Miami was also terrible last year.

Looking mildly competent this year would have been a resounding success for Cincinnati and new-ish general manager Chris Albright. But they don’t just look competent; they look kinda good. With Pat Noonan now helming the first team this season, they’ve already equaled the total amount of wins they got last year.

I’ll pause to allow you to finish laughing.

Gone is the death-soccer of the Jaap Stam era, when Cincy tried to compete by ignoring the attack and just limiting their losses as much as they could (which wasn’t a lot!). Now, Noonan has unlocked Lucho Acosta, and the Argentine is as good as he’s ever been in MLS. He’s first in expected assists and eighth in expected goals among all players in MLS, according to American Soccer Analysis.

Of course, the emergence of Brandon Vazquez has been part and parcel to Acosta’s success. The Mexican-American and former U.S. youth international has made once-high profile signing Brenner look completely irrelevant with his combination of size and movement.

Defenders have to respect Vazquez’s ability to get into scoring positions and they also have to respect him when he splits out wide (which he does quite a bit), as he can be deceptively quick with the ball at his feet. He has a gravitational effect on defenders, which creates space for everyone around him.

I’ll probably get schtick from Austin fans for not saying their team (who are also vastly improved). But I have to tip my hat to Cincinnati for finally picking themselves up out of the mud and putting together a fun team.

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