If you're like us, the offseason has flown by because you've spent every night since Nov. 5 rewatching the greatest MLS Cup in history. That was nearly four months ago now, making this one of the longest close seasons in recent memory, but that's a fair tradeoff for the show that champions LAFC and heartbroken runners-up Philadelphia Union put on that evening at the newly renamed BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.
A lot has changed in the winter months. The Black and Gold's goal-scoring hero in that final, Gareth Bale, rode off into the sunset having delivered another piece of coveted silverware to another one of his clubs. There are now 29 teams in the league, with St. Louis City SC joining MLS for 2023. There's also a whole new way to watch, with MLS and Apple embarking on their 10-year broadcast partnership.
What's new and expected at all 29 clubs in 2023? Grab yourself a beverage and a snack and settle in as Jeff Carlisle, Kyle Bonagura, Bill Connelly, Arch Bell, Ryan Rosenblatt and Jon Arnold give us the lowdown on every team in MLS ahead of the new season.
What they've been up to: Undergoing a significant overhaul, both on the field and off. Team president Darren Eales left for Newcastle United, replaced by the highly respected Garth Lagerwey. On the field, the Five Stripes said goodbye to former league MVP Josef Martinez as well as the likes of defenders George Campbell and Alan Franco, and midfielder Marcelino Moreno.
Atlanta has also been trying to get healthier, too, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan, defender Miles Robinson and midfielder Ozzie Alonso all recovering from major injuries.
- Caesars Sportsbook odds to win MLS Cup: +2,000
- FiveThirtyEight chance to win MLS Cup: 7%
Biggest offseason move: Not an offseason goes by without Atlanta making some kind of splash and this one was no different. This time, Celtic forward Giorgos Giakoumakis is the prize addition, arriving on a designated player contract. He'll be expected to replace Martinez both in terms of scoring and defensive work. Less flashy were the acquisitions of winger Derrick Etienne and center-back Luis Abram. The latter is a Peru international who is expected to solidify the center of defense.
2023 will be a success if ... The attacking pieces can fit together. Granted, that seems to be a question every year for Atlanta and of late, it has been answered in the negative. While Thiago Almada -- with a World Cup winner's medal now in his trophy cabinet -- performed well with six goals and 12 assists; teammate Luiz Araujo lacked consistency, scoring just four goals despite taking the sixth most shots in the league (98). With Etienne and Giakoumakis now on board, that quartet will need to gel quickly.
The attack is by no means the only area with questions. In the back, the continued recovery of Robinson from a ruptured Achilles will be something to keep an eye on, although the play of Juan Jose Purata will create competition in the back. The same is true of Guzan and Alonso.
This is a big year for manager Gonzalo Pineda as well. A glut of injuries last season made it difficult to discern just what kind of job he did. Given the new arrivals, he'll have no excuses this time around. -- Jeff Carlisle