Can Ronny Deila pull off an MLS rarity and direct NYCFC to a consecutive league championship? (USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
At the dawn of 2022, here’s 20 local soccer personalities to watch in 2022:
- Ronny Deila
Can the New York City FC head coach direct the team to back-to-back MLS Cups? The challenge certainly isn’t an easy one as only three teams (D.C. United, Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy, the last to accomplish that feat in 2011-12) have secured consecutive championships.
- Taty Castellanos
A few questions: Will the 23-year-old remain with NYCFC or will the club receive an offer that they can’t refuse. And if he remains with the team, can the MLS Golden Boot winner continue his scoring prowess?
- Gerhard Struber
In his second full season with the club, can Struber turn the Red Bulls from a mediocre side that barely made the postseason into a force that the team’s fans became accustomed to three Supporters’ Shield titles during a six-year span (2013-18).
- Brad Sims
Will the NYCFC CEO make an important announcement about finding a site for a stadium for the team so there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Yankee Stadium dwellers?
- Kevin Thelwell
Can the Red Bulls head of sport continue to make the proper overseas signings to give Struber a strong team to work with?
Aaron Long on an exercise bike before a USMNT World Cuup qualifier. (Keith Furman/FrontRowSoccer)
- Aaron Long
How quickly can the U.S. men’s national team center back return to full force from his Achilles injury? He also is in the top 20 national personalities to watch.
Sean Johnson was a leader on and off the field. (USA TODAY Photo)
- Sean Johnson
Can the NYCFC captain and goalkeeper continue to play at a high level and keep NYCFC near the top of the MLS Eastern Conference as it tries to defend its crown?
- Carlos Coronel
Can the Red Bulls goalkeeper, arguably the team’s 2021 MVP, continue his superior level of play and make saves and keep his low-scoring side in games?
- Scott Parkinson
Can the NJ/NY Gotham head coach, who took over late last season, piece together the new players and ensure an NWSL playoff berth?
- Josep Gomba
Can the Queensborough FC head coach and sporting director put together a competitive side that will ensure good crowds and a long stay in its inaugural season in the USL Championship at York College?
- Maxi Moralez
Now that his signing as a non-Designated players buried any rumors that he will play elsewhere, can the NYCFC playmaker have one last hurrah with the team?
- Yael Averbuch West
Have the deals the new Gotham FC general manager made keep the team competitive and perhaps in line for an NWSL title?
13 and 14. Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris
Can this pair of two-time Women’s World Cup champions boost Gotham FC into greater heights? Krieger, a defender, and Harris, a goalkeeper, were acquired from the Orlando Pride for a 2022 NWSL Draft first round selection, a 2023 NWSL Draft natural third round pick and $50,000 in allocation money.
- Patryk Klimala
Can the Red Bulls striker and Young Designated Player, who scored a disappointing eight goals in 30 matches, start filling the net and live up to contract ($1 million with a guaranteed compensation of $1.135 million)?
- Anton Tinnerholm
Can he make a full recovery from his Achilles injury and return to form sometime this MLS season?
- James Sands
Will the Rye, N.Y. stay with NYCFC, or will some European team make an offer that the MLS club can’t refuse?
- Joe Scally
Can the Lake Grove, N.Y. continue his remarkable progress at Borussia Moenchengladbach and find a way onto the U.S. national team, especially if it books a spot in Qatar 2022?
- Crystal Dunn
When will the Rockville Centre, N.Y. native return to competitive soccer after her pregnancy (she is due in May) and help club (Portland Thorns FC) and country (U.S. women’s national team), which is scheduled for Mexico from July 9-24?
- Hendrik Hebbeker
Can the Cologne, Germany native, who was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and second team All-American, continue his productive ways and lead the Hofstra University men to even greater heights this year?