Way back in February, when New York City FC’s 2022 season was an adorable little toddler just learning how to nutmeg, the Hudson River Blue panel of experts gazed into our size-two crystal-clear ball and tried to envision what the future held for the Pigeons. What we saw surprised us, and turned out mostly to be true — in one form or another.
Even though the 2022 season isn’t over yet – you might say that with the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs about to begin it’s just hotting up – we’ll take a look back and see which predictions came to pass, which sorta happened, and which were completely stoopid.
22 predictions for 2022 fact-checked
1. 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.
TRUE! It didn’t happen exactly as expected, but Castellanos bagged 13 goals before leaving in July, and is now a regular starter in La Liga.
2. 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.
TRUE! OK, he’s at Standard Liege in Belgium, but at the start of the year nobody saw Deila leaving NYCFC...nobody but us.
3. Talles Magno and Thiago will step into the Jesús Medina-sized hole up top, start at least 15 games each.
PARTIALLY TRUE! That Medina-sized hole was filled by the exceptional Gabriel Pereira, but both Talles Magno (32 starts) and Thiago (14 starts) are now regulars in the Starting XI.
5. 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.
FALSE! While Rodríguez has taken on a bigger role on the field, Moralez still puts the strings.
5. 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.
PARTIALLY TRUE! Héber plays regularly as striker, but he’s the second choice after Talles Magno. He has 8 goals in 22 appearances, and scored what turned out to be the game-winner against Atlanta United in the last game of the season — and NYCFC’s first-ever win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
6. 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.
TRUE! We’ll give ourselves this one as NYCFC face David Beckham’s shiny pink toy in the First Round of the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs next Monday at Red Bull Arena.
7. 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.
TRUE! The rivalry between the two teams is growing, and could reach new heights if there’s a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final.
8. Nicolás Acevedo will take over the role vacated by James Sands and become a regular starter.
TRUE! The defensive midfielder is growing into the position, making 27 starts and 31 appearances this season.
9. 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.
TRUE! Bing-Bong’s moment has passed.
10. 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.
FALSE! Johnson ended the season with a club-record 14 clean sheets, but Andre Blake or Djordje Petrovic are likely to snag that honor.
11. Deila will make a tactical substitute at halftime after misreading his Apple Watch in the summer glare, think it’s the 85th minute.
TRUE! It happened on May 1, when NYCFC defeated San Jose 3-0 after a scoreless tie was broken only after substitutes came on in the 56th and 65th minutes. OK, the game was in late spring and not summer, but it counts.
12. 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.
FALSE! Platinum dye-jobs are still in fashion but never quite reached that tipping point.
13. 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.
FALSE! Totally, absolutely, completely false! Utterly misguided! Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!
14. 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.
PARTIALLY-TRUE! The former Bulldog still manages to get foul calls, but he has made fewer appearances in 2022 than he did in 2021.
16. NYCFC will crash out of the 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.
TRUE! NYCFC made it as far as the Semifinals while struggling in MLS league play, but after they left the tournament they resurrected their season and now are in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year. Seattle Sounders won the CONCACAF Champions League (and still won’t stop talking about it), but failed to make the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history.
17. 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.
TRUE! NYCFC won the Campeones Cup on September 15, and while it might be a minor trophy it helped the team correct course: It broke a historically bad run of games, launching a four-game winning streak that NYCFC carry into Monday’s playoff game against Miami.
18. 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.
19. 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.
TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, AND TRUE!
20. Multiple games will be rescheduled. NYCFC isn’t just working around the seasons of two MLB teams, it’s contending with an MLB-wide lockout that might delay the start of the season.
TRUE! NYCFC rescheduled two games, one because of the CONCACAF Champions League and one because of the MLB lockout. Both were played at Red Bull Arena, and both were losses for NYCFC.
21. 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.
PARTIALLY-TRUE! while Callens isn’t the designated penalty taker he’s become the first striker/center-back in the history of soccer, scoring key goals in NYCFC’s late-season return to form
22. Brad Sims will announce that a stadium announcement will be announced at a future date to be announced later.
TRUE! Actually, it’s partially-partially-true: The latest announcement is just a rumor and doesn’t mention Sims, but we’re going to give ourselves this one because it’s bound to happen. And because we’re continually annoyed that the Stadium Saga is such a hot mess.
How did we do?
Our soothsayers are the best in the business: A whopping 18 of our 22 predictions came to pass in some capacity, with a full 14 of those turning out to be eerily prescient. If we’re scoring this like soccer, with three points for a True, one point for a Partially True, and zero points for a False, we took 46 out of a possible 66 points. That’s good enough to put us comfortably ahead of LAFC and Philadelphia Union on the table in PPG. Campeones, campeones, allez-allez-allez!
Just as important, our sixth sense is getting better year after year. At the start of NYCFC’s inaugural season in 2015, the Upside Down 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.” Only one of those things came to pass.
While we take full credit for our 22 predictions for 2022, nobody is going to say anything about the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. We might know what’s going to happen, but we’re not going to jinx it.