RFT’s MLR 2022 Predictions

If the last couple of years has taught us anything, its that trying to predict where the world will be in five months is a crap shot.

Well, he’s some certified crap.

For some reason, I continue to torture myself with this annual exercise despite the unknowns. For example, I went into this exercise unaware of the San Diego Nomads stadium situation. Key players can go down at terrible times. Covid can rear its ugly head. No one can really predict anything.

Yet, here we go.

The expanded playoffs leave us with even more to predict. More chances to get something right, or just a harsher defeat when its all wrong? Only time will tell.

Eastern Conference

Playoff Positioning

  1. New York
  2. NOLA
  3. Atlanta

The Eastern Conference race should be five teams deep. New York is the most complete team in the conference. There’s talent from 1-15. The age of the back line will be a concern. This will be new flyhalf Sam Windsor’s ‘Matthew Stafford’ year. How much of the last four years of SaberCat failure was due to him and how much was he held back by his teammates in yellow?

From here, the picks get tough. NOLA was in this race until the end last year, despite tremendous amounts of injury. They have a much better pack than back line. However, they’re consistent and should build enough early to make the bracket.

Atlanta won this conference last year. Now, their top 10 and coach are gone. Steve Brett will have a lot to coach in his first year in the big chair. There’s plenty of concern around this team concerning potential dysfunction. Their talent gives them the slightest of edges for me.

Atlanta beat Toronto and New England by the slightest of margins. How will a team of Canadians respond to having no World Cup roster spots to play for? How will New England fair under a new coach and no major additions? Either side could shoot all the way up to the two spot and I wouldn’t be surprised.

To Old Glory fans, well, sorry. losing Jason Robertson to France is a huge blow. There’s no reason to believe this team is going to collapse, but they’ll still be mush closer to the first draft pick than the first seed in the playoff.

Western Conference

Playoff Positioning:

  1. LA
  2. Austin
  3. Seattle

LA is the best team in the MLR. Even without the Giteau resigning. They’ll take the one.

Austin spent all of last year dominating defense, but lacked that final touch to get over the line post-Mooneyham injury. The trade for JulĂ­an Dominguez and Mooneyham’s return could rectify that issue.

Like the East, there’s a tight second tier. Austin is slightly ahead, but San Diego, Utah, and Seattle will be a tight group, while Houston has firepower if they can come together quickly enough. We believe Seattle takes the third spot. With a core locked in for the long term and half a season under Clarke’s coaching, the SeaWolves have a head start. Their midfield additions of Martin Iosefo and Tavite Lopeti could move from a club centers pairing to an Eagles 12-13.

San Diego’s acquisition of Will Hooley didn’t receive the fanfare it deserved. Utah lost Michael Baska and its plans for the halfbacks are messy at best. Houston is basically a new team that will need time to pull together. Dallas will be competitive in their first season, but a new roster without a permanent head coach will leave them with plenty to stumble through.

Playoffs

Conference Semifinals

  • NOLA over Atlanta
  • Seattle over Austin

Conference Finals

  • New York over NOLA
  • LA over Seattle

Championship Final

  • LA over New York

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