Major League Soccer is at an important stage in its history. In just the last five years, the league has added eight expansion teams, changed over several existing ownership groups, grown into the global transfer market and increased spending on players. With a new TV deal coming this year and the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, more important shifts are sure to take place over the next few seasons.

Given that, we thought it was a good time to ask the people most involved in shaping rosters where they think this is all headed.  

What follows is a survey of 21 soccer executives from clubs around MLS. Most of those surveyed are the chief soccer officer (CSO) of their respective club — their official titles vary, but CSOs are the individuals in charge of the sporting side of their organization. Several of the respondents are slightly lower down their team’s organizational chart, but all are highly involved in soccer operations and more than fluent on league matters.

Participants were asked a wide variety of questions. The first section deals mostly with picks and preferences for the 2022 season: MLS Cup predictions, the best players at each position, the top coach and best and worst ownership groups, etc. 

The closing section is more open-ended. Execs were asked about a number of different topics regarding MLS roster rules, where the league ranks globally and, following the scandal that rocked Inter Miami last year, cheating in MLS.

In exchange for their candor, execs were granted full anonymity. None were allowed to vote for anyone associated with the club that they work for.

 

Which team will win MLS Cup?

No real surprises here; defending champions NYCFC and trendy preseason pick Seattle each garnered five votes. CSOs are high on Atlanta, too — a reflection of their significant collection of talent and the fact that the club spends more on player salaries and acquisition costs than just about anyone else in MLS.

 

Which team will win the Supporters’ Shield?

Seattle pulled significantly ahead of NYCFC in the Supporters’ Shield portion of the survey. The expected summer sale of NYCFC star striker Taty Castellanos played a role in the disparate thinking.