Predicting the MLS East and West

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson predicts the standings for the MLS Eastern and Western Conferences:

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East

1. New England. The best team in the league until someone proves otherwise.

2. Atlanta United. The team can challenge for the Supporters’ Shield if it plays how Gonzalo Pineda wants.

3. Toronto. If Toronto can hold on in the East until its reinforcements arrive this summer, watch out.

4. Philadelphia. I think Jim Curtin is one of the best managers in MLS, but the team has lost a lot.

5. NYCFC. So much will depend upon what the reigning champs do with Taty Castellanos.

6. Orlando. Lost a lot but reloaded. How quickly can the new faces jell, and will the defense improve?

7. D.C. United. I like the team on paper, but I liked it on paper last season and it didn’t make the playoffs.

Playoff line

8. Montreal. A real head-scratcher of a team because it needs everything to go right.

9. Red Bulls. A franchise that has a way of doing things, but I think it catches up to them this season.

10. Chicago. Interesting signings, but a lot of players who are individually good, not system good.

11. Columbus. Caleb Porter missed playoffs last season so should make it this season. Doubtful.

12. Cincinnati. New coach and new GM, but it will take at least two years to see results.

13. Miami. A total roster overhaul was in order after myriad rules violations. It happened. It will take time.

14. Charlotte. Not enough talent and not enough depth to compete week in and week out.

West

1. Seattle. A loaded team, one that should win the Supporters’ Shield if it stays healthy.

2. Nashville. They were moved from East to West, but it won’t change their disciplined approach.

3. Portland. They will either do very well this season or will implode. I’m betting on well.

4. LAFC. I don’t feel good about this, but team has too much talent to not make playoffs.

5. Sporting KC. Peter Vermes is another fantastic coach, but this is an old team that needs a striker.

6. Colorado. They won the West last season, but lost quite a few good players and still no good striker.

7. Minnesota. They have a lot of talent, but I think this is the season that Adrian Heath’s time ends with club.

Playoff line

8. L.A. Galaxy. Could be fun going forward but will remain a train wreck on defense. Hard to consistently win that way.

9. Vancouver. Like Montreal, they can either be pretty good or pretty bad because of youth. Much depends upon luck.

10. Dallas. They keep producing European talent but can’t produce on the field.

11. Real Salt Lake. New ownership group. New Designated Players. New everything ... but it will take time.

12. Austin. They’ve had a smart offseason, but I just can’t see them rocketing up the standings yet.

13. Houston. A franchise that keeps trying to be relevant but keeps being unsuccessful.

14. San Jose. A manager, Matias Almeyda, who can’t get out of his own way.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 10 at Charlotte, 1:30 p.m., ABC, ESPN Deportes

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs. Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE