MLS news: Where are we, who is in form, what are the talking points, will Phil Neville get the sack?

With European football coming to a close, many fans will turn their focus to the MLS for the next two months. Here’s everything you need to know about North America’s premier soccer competition.

Over the last nine months you've indulged in the frenzy of the Premier League, experienced the thrill ride of the Championship and even dabbled in some Serie A. 

But now, with serious European football locked away until August (or late July, at least), you're left twiddling your thumbs as another quiet, meaningless weekend comes into view.

However, in the midst of all that silence, a strange impulse hits the back of your brain. An impulse reminding you about the one competition which runs through the summer months and is somewhat watchable. The MLS.

You may know a few of the teams and a few of the players, but you hardly follow results nor any of the stories, making it impossible to emotionally invest upon first viewing. Despite this, you persist. The footballing drought on this side of the Atlantic fuels your desperation.

If you are that fan, don't worry. You have come to the right place.

Over the next few hundred words, we'll fill you in on everything you need to know about the 2022 MLS season so far.

Where are we in the 2022 campaign?

New York City FC forward Valentin Castellanos

We are currently one third of the way through the MLS season, with most teams having played 14 league fixtures.

New York City FC are currently leading the way in the Eastern Conference, but face serious competition from Philadelphia Union, CF Montreal (formerly known as Montreal Impact), New York Red Bulls and Orlando City SC.

The Western Conference, in contrast, is led by goal-crazy Los Angeles FC. The five teams below are separated by just two points, with FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Austin FC, LA Galaxy and Nashville SC all scrapping for position.

While finishing the regular season top of a conference doesn't win you the title, it does place you straight in the play-off semi-finals. Teams who finish second to seventh, on the other hand, will begin their play-off campaigns in the very first round. With that in mind, there's a lot to play for.

Are there any big names left in MLS?

The days of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are long gone, but that doesn't mean a Premier League fan won't recognise some of names still plying their trade in the USA.

Former Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, for instance, is still in action for Atlanta United at the age of 37.

Christian Fuchs, who famously won the Premier League with Leicester, currently plays for Charlotte FC, while former Arsenal midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri represents Chicago Fire.

Inter Miami, who are managed by Phil Neville, have a number of notable names including Kieran Gibbs, Gonzalo Higuain and DeAndre Yedlin.

Former Manchester United and West Ham striker Javier Hernandez still plays for LA Galaxy, while ex-Tottenham man Victor Wanyama is in action for CF Montreal.

New England Revolution's Jozy Altidore, Orlando City's Alexandre Pato and new Los Angeles FC signing Giorgio Chiellini are also part of the fun.

Who are the teams to watch?

Statistically speaking, Los Angeles are the best team to watch, considering they currently boast the best record in the league.

Steve Cherundolo's men have found the back of the net 29 times, and they're yet to be involved in a league game which has produced fewer than two goals.

Seattle Sounders are another team worth keeping a close eye on. Brian Schmetzer's side have won four of their last five games and are making some serious noise despite a slow start to the campaign.

With regards to the Eastern Conference, New York City are creating all the headlines. The team are in the midst of a four-match winning run, but face uncertainty following the departure of manager Ronny Deila who is heading to Belgian outfit Standard Liege.

Who are the in-form players?

San Jose's Jeremy Ebobisse and FC Dallas' Jesus Ferreira =currently lead the golden boot race, having scored nine times each.

Ferreira has been particularly impressive, having also chipped in with four assists.

Austin FC's Sebastian Driussi failed to make a big impact when he first joined from Zenit, but with eight goals already this season, things are beginning to look up for the Argentine.

One man who was making a serious impact in the league was New England Revolution striker Adam Buksa who scored seven goals in 10 appearances this season. The 25-year-old would've been a strong golden boot contender if not for his summer move to Ligue 1 side Lens.

The aforementioned Shaqiri has also enjoyed a strong start to life in America. With three goals and seven assists to his name from just 12 games, he is becoming a serious offensive weapon for Chicago Fire.

How is Phil Neville doing at Inter Miami?

Inter Miami manager Phil Neville

Phil Neville was one of the favourites for the sack when his team began the season by with just a point from their first five games.

Slowly but surely, things have improved for the Herons who are unbeaten in four and sit just one point away from the play-offs.

The recent upturn in form has got Neville talking about winning the league. While you can't knock his confidence, you just wonder whether the former England women's boss is setting up his side for failure.

Any games of interest this weekend?

Actually, yes! One of the biggest games of the weekend will see Western Conference leaders Los Angeles FC take on in-form Seattle Sounders.

Elsewhere, New York City are unbeaten in 10 straight games, but with their manager packing his bags and heading to Europe, the Eastern Conference leaders could be there for the taking when they host Colorado Rapids on Sunday.

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