As New York City FC prepares for the start of the 2022 MLS season, we decided it was time to take the Hudson River Blue crystal ball out of its velvet-lined mahogany case and ask it to tell us about the year that stretches out before us.
This isn’t the first time HRB gazed into the future. At the start of NYCFC’s inaugural season in 2015, the spirits guided our colleagues to make 15 predictions, two of which proved to be true. Three years later, the spirits riddled us “five things that will definitely happen.” While only one of those things came to pass that year, two of those things definitely happened last year. Feel a chill along your spine? Us too.
In recent days, the spirits moved us to make 22 predictions for 2022. While we’re certain each one will come true, we’ll check back in the fall to see which ones are eerily prescient, and which ones are simply correct.
22 predictions for 2022
- Taty Castellanos will complete his move to a top-five European league during the summer transfer window. He’ll play to impress during the start of the season, becoming even less wasteful in front of goal knowing that every game will be scrutinized by the sporting directors of the biggest clubs in the world.
- Another departure: Ronny Deila will leave to take over Watford FC after Roy Hodgson gets the sack. Deila’s contract will include a strip-and-pushups clause if they win the Premier League.
- Talles Magno and Thiago Andrade will step into the Jesús Medina-sized hole up top, start at least 15 games each.
- The NYCFC second kit will be orange.
- Santiago Rodríguez will take over the playmaker role from Maxi Moralez in a graceful transition that sees the 34-year-old Argentine mentor the 22-year-old midfielder.
- Héber will ease back into the striker position once Castellanos leaves (see #1 above), come close to matching his 2019 performance of 15 goals in 22 appearances.
- Inter Miami will try to stoke an Eastern Conference rivalry with NYCFC, release a Pitbull track featuring DeAndre Yedlin. Nobody will notice in New York.
- Philadelphia Union and NYCFC will grow into a bona fide rivalry fueled by the ongoing #stopthesteal protests that City’s win in the 2021 Eastern Conference Final isn't legitimate— because the honorable thing would have been to reschedule for January, or field ten players, or give Jim Curtin veto power over Delia’s substitutions. Bring it, Doop.
- Nicolás Acevedo will take over the role vacated by James Sands and become a regular starter.
- Acevedo will not inherit “Bing Bong,” which Sands is allowed to use in Scotland. While the memories are sweet, it’s time to move on: Bing and Bong, we will never forget you.
- Sean Johnson will win MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Matt Turner might have been the media darling of 2021, but Johnson was the keeper who showed up and won the title. He’ll deservedly win the honor in 2022.
- Deila will make a tactical substitute at halftime after misreading his Apple Watch in the summer glare, think it’s the 85th minute.
- The bleached coifs we saw in 2021 will return in force and NYCFC will field an all-platinum-blonde starting eleven, a first in the history of MLS. Johnson will be the last holdout, but once he goes blonde home hair bleach kits will sell out in New York City.
- Summer transfers will remake the team. Just like in 2021, when sporting director David Lee added Andrade, Magno, and Rodriguez, key players will arrive in the Bronx in time for a playoff push.
- Andres Jasson’s masterful ability to draw fouls will lead to the creation of xBF, “expected to be fouled.” Once that stat is calculated, Transfermarkt will value Jasson at $160 million, just behind Erling Haaland.
- NYCFC will crash out of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, and that’s OK. MLS teams that advance in the tournament usually struggle domestically—just last year, reigning MLS champs Columbus Crew failed to make the postseason in part because of the challenging schedule. Better to focus on MLS.
- More silverware will be lifted. Will it be a second MLS Cup? A Supporters Shield? The elusive Concacaf Champions League? (In which case forget about the previous prediction.) The Campeones Cup? Hard to say, but another trophy will find its way to the Bronx.
- The New York Times will run a story about NYCFC, explain that soccer is a sport played with your feet, knees, chest, shoulders, even your head, but not your hands or arms unless you’re the goalkeeper.
- The Outfield will run a story about NYCFC, illustrate it with an obscure if poetic work of art that seems unrelated to the article, but then the image enters your unconscious and haunts your dreams.
- Multiple games will be rescheduled. NYCFC isn't just working around the seasons of two MLB teams, it’s contending with a MLB-wide lockout that might delay the start of the season.
- Alexander Callens will become the designated penalty shooter after a Castellanos stutter-step Rabona Panenka is saved by the New Jersey Red Bulls. Like one-pitch-wonder Mariano Rivera, Callens has a single delivery but it’s unstoppable: Straight down the middle into the roof of the net.
- Brad Sims will announce that a stadium announcement will be announced at a future date to be announced later.