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The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

The student news site of Bernards High School

The Crimson

MLS regular season recap

The 2023 season has been nothing short of spectacular.
Colin Caggiano
The MLS has been gaining popularity over the last few seasons.

The 29th season of Major League Soccer (MLS) has been astonishing. In just eight months, fans have witnessed game-changing moves, neck-and-neck playoff races, and the 2022 World Cup winner Lionel Messi making waves in South Bea

The freshest face in the league, St. Louis City SC, made a jaw-dropping debut this year. Only a few expected them to shine so soon, but they clinched the top spot in the Western Conference with a comfortable 56 points, leading last season’s champions, LAFC, by 5 points. Such an outstanding debut sets the bar high for the new team in 2025, San Diego FC. With San Diego’s entry, the Eastern and Western Conferences will have 15 teams each.

Underdogs in 2020 and 2021, F.C. Cincinnati skyrocketed to clinch the first seed in their conference and the Supporters’ Shield. It’s a monumental leap from their previous standings of 14 and 20 points in two of the past three seasons. With 69 points this year, Cinnannati is tied for 4th place with the 2017 Toronto F.C. and the 2018 Atlanta United for total points scored. Much credit for Cincinnati’s stunning transformation goes to their Argentine attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, with 15 goals this season. 

Cincinnati and St. Louis are the first seeds in their Conferences and will play the Conference Wild Card winner. In the Eastern Conference, with 43 points, Charlotte FC came to New Jersey to face off against the New York Red Bulls, with New York winning 5-2 behind Elias Monoel’s hat-trick. New York is now the 8th seed and will face Cincinnati in a best-of-three series. 

In the West, the game was more exciting. Sporting K.C. hosted the San Jose Earthquakes, and after 90 minutes, there were no goals, so a penalty shootout took place. Sporting K.C. came out on top, 4-2 on penalties, and will play St. Louis. 

The rest of the playoffs look like this, in the East: (2) Orlando Pride versus (7) Nashville SC, (3) Columbus Crew versus (6) Atlanta United, and (4) Philadelphia Union versus (5) New England Revolution. While in the West: (2) Seattle Sounders F.C. versus (7) FC Dallas, the defending champions, (3) LAFC versus (6) Vancouver Whitecaps F.C., and (4) Houston Dynamo versus (5) Real Salt Lake. 

The playoffs aren’t even the biggest news of the season. In June, Lionel Messi left Paris St.Germain to join Inter Miami. Even with Messi on the roster, Miami struggled to 14th in the Eastern Conference. Many people expected them to make the playoffs, and that path for Messi to lead them to the playoffs started in New Jersey. Messi made his MLS debut in August with Jocelin Gonzalez ‘27 saying that “The game was so much fun and it was an amazing experience that I’m very grateful for and will remember forever.” Some even thought a Messi-led team would lead to a championship season. 

Unfortunately, due to Messi’s injuries and the 2026 World Cup qualifiers with his country, Argentina, Miami missed the playoffs entirely. Inter Miami earned a trophy by winning the League Cup in August, giving Inter Miami fans hope for next year.

According to Geoff Ostella, six-time Emmy award-winning T.V. sports producer for Apple and MSG Networks, “Looking ahead to the upcoming MLS season, you can expect a blend of athleticism and a touch of finesse on the field. Teams are putting in the hours, refining their strategies to continue their work of bringing the rich history and tradition of European football tradition to the U.S. MLS is committed to the long-term growth of soccer in the United States.” 

With this analysis, the 30th season of the MLS and the league looks ready to be on as one of the top soccer leagues in the world.

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