>By Nick Gallaudet
If you have read any of my soccer pieces, you know that I just started following the sport. I was sucked into the World Cup fever and unsuccessfully tried to follow the English Premier League, landing me with a little bit of a soccer void. I watched the MLS playoffs last year and enjoyed myself, although I didn’t have a team to root for (but I did have Connor Casey to root against). Now, with the announcement of the regular season schedule today, and friendlies already underway, it has come time for me to choose an MLS team to follow. I take my sports fandom very seriously, so this is selection process is very important. I am a very loyal fan, and I loathe bandwagoners, so I need to make sure I select my team for the right reasons, because once I make my selection, I’m sticking to it. There will be no backtracking or do-overs for this MLS fan, this choice is final, and without further ado, I am officially on the clock.
These are the teams that I absolutely will not root for.
18. New England Revolution
I hate everything to do with Boston. I hate the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics. I can’t stand their accents, and Ben Affleck makes me angry. There is no way I would ever be caught dead rooting for anything to do with New England, especially a team owned by Robert Kraft.
17. Colorado Rapids
Honestly, this team hasn’t done anything to warrant my hatred, but I cannot root for the defending champion. I don’t want to be accused of jumping on the bandwagon, and there’s nothing that really sets this team apart from any others that make me regret not choosing them, other than my former favorite player, Omar Cummings.
16. Los Angeles Galaxy
Despite my little knowledge about these teams (everything I tell you in this column I’ve learned in the last hour) I do know that the Galaxy are the equivalent of the Yankees, and big spending is not going to make me a fan of your team. I have respect for teams that earn their championships, not ones that go out and buy them, and for that reason, the Galaxy, despite having two of the four MLS players I’ve heard of, are out of the running.
15. Toronto FC
I don’t care about Toronto. It’s far away from me, there’s nothing exciting about the team, their nickname, Reds, is boring, and when I think Toronto, I think blue. The Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and Argonauts are all blue, so why did Toronto FC decide to go red? I don’t know. But I do know one thing: I don’t like individuals. I’m about team players, and Toronto FC are selfish. If they were blue, it’d be a different story; but they’re not, so it’s not.
NOT MUCH BETTER
These are the teams that I don’t have a legitimate reason to write off instantly, but I just don’t like them
14. Columbus Crew
This team feels like something a 13 year-old would have made on Madden, all the way down to their uninspired logo. The jerseys are ugly, the name is stupid, and the construction workers in their logo look like they’re the opening act for the Village People. I just don’t see myself rooting for such a boring looking team.
13. Club Deportivo Chivas USA
Chivas confuse me. They’re modeled after the popular Mexican club Guadalajara, which is fine, but MLS is in America (and Canada) and we speak American (and Canadian). If the name of this team was Sports Club Chivas USA, I still wouldn’t root for them, but I’d have to come up with a better reason.
12. Houston Dynamo
I was never a San Jose Earthquakes fan, but TSL contributor Matt Ream is, and I’m sure he was heartbroken when his Quakes left for Houston in 2005. I stand by my colleagues, so if you broke Matt’s heart, then you broke mine, too. Sorry Houston, but no one plays with my emotions like that and gets away with it.
11. FC Dallas
I might as well eliminate the whole state of Texas. I’m disappointed FC Dallas ditched the team name Burn for such a boring name. On top of that, the only football club in Dallas is the Cowboys. In America (and Canada) we call soccer “soccer,” not football. It’s insulting to Jerry Jones to call your team Football Club Dallas, and you wouldn’t want to make Jerry Jones mad would you? Speaking of owners, the owner of FC Dallas also owns the Columbus Crew. You can’t own two teams that play in the same league! That’s ridiculous, it shouldn’t be allowed, plus if you own two teams, you should trade all your best players to one of the two teams and win every year, which neither of those teams does. So on top of being greedy, their owner is dumb. Can’t root for ‘em.
10. Sporting Kansas City
First of all, I just want to go on the record saying I’m completely against all this name changing in MLS. Why can’t you stick with your original team name? What was wrong with Wiz? Then you go and expand it to Wizards? Then change it to Sporting KC? Sorry Kansas City, but you’re already fighting an uphill battle simply because you’re from Kansas City. There is nothing there to get excited about, and I can’t afford to get involved with a team who may change their name again, forcing me to purchase a whole new set of memorabilia. I’m not made of money, Sporting KC.
INTRIGUING BUT NOT ENOUGH THERE
These are the teams that I had to give a second look at, but ultimately, didn’t offer enough to keep me around
9. New York Red Bulls
I couldn’t decide whether to give them props or not for their blatant surrender to commercialism. Simply naming your team after an energy drink is a gutsy move, but I ultimately held that against them. I fought over this team for a while; they had so much going for and against them at the same time. Their historical futility was somewhat endearing, but at the same time, it make me wary. They have a history of big name U.S. players, but at the same time, they seem to go the way of the Galaxy and buy big name stars. Ultimately, this team left me with too many conflicting emotions and I couldn’t give my soccer loyalty to a team like that.
8. Philadelphia Union
This team really lost out because of circumstances beyond their control. As a history major in college, I was really drawn to the way they embrace the history of Philadelphia; their badge pays homage to prodigal son, Benjamin Franklin, and their motto is Latin for “join or die.” Despite their positive attributes, there are two things that really make it tough for me to root for them. They play in Philadelphia, and the history of that city makes them appealing, but at the same time, I don’t want to root for a team from a city where they boo Santa Claus. The real deal breaker, however, was the fact that they’re sponsored by Bimbo Bakeries. The word Bimbo is plastered across their chest. Sorry, guys, good effort, but I can’t support such vulgarity.
7. Real Salt Lake
The official Real Salt Lake blog was the first website to link to us back when we were just a fledgling blog trying to make a name for ourselves. Hundreds of posts, and millions of hits later, I haven’t forgotten who was there for us. RSL, I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for us, but I really don’t want to root for a team from Utah. On top of that, you let me down in my playoff picks last year, and I haven’t forgotten. I’m like an elephant that way. Also, I don’t like your colors; I can’t be expected to rep a team that I think is ugly.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
These teams just missed the cut.
6. San Jose Earthquakes
Geographically, the Earthquakes are the closest MLS team to my home, which made them initial favorites in this race for my allegiance, but there were many factors that foiled their victory. First, they’re recycled. The original Earthquakes bounced from San Jose in 2005, this team is Earthquakes 2, and sequels are never as good as the original. In addition to being sloppy seconds, they don’t have Landon Donovan anymore, so they bore me. Also, the aforementioned Matt Ream roots for them, and what fun is having the same favorite team as your friend? You can’t talk trash to them when their team gets stomped, because that means your team also got stomped, so he can talk trash back, and then you’ll both be sad because your team sucks.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
The fact that they are an expansion team scores major points for them, because if you’re coming into MLS fresh, it couldn’t hurt to support a brand new team. It’s like your new fandom gave birth to this new team specifically for you to root for, but there are just too many jokes that can be made out of their name. I’m not going to list them, because this is a family blog, and that’d be inappropriate, but I’m sure if you are a teenage boy, you know where I’m going. Also, it bugs me that they have a team name followed by FC, I feel like you can go 3 ways with their name, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver FC, or Whitecaps FC, but all three is overkill, and I’m going to run out of room on the sign I’m going to make for the game, and posterboard is not cheap.
4. D.C. United
D.C. United seems like a classy franchise. They’ve won before, but they fell on hard times last season. They have Charlie Davies on loan for the season and from what I hear, he’s a pretty good rapper. Their uniforms and badge are some of the coolest in the league and they’re stationed right in our nation’s capital. I really had to talk myself out of picking them, because they are TSL writer Evan Ream’s team, and I’ve already established that I won’t be choosing someone else’s team, so Evan, enjoy Mr. Davies.
THE FINAL THREE
The Three finalists in MLS Decision 2011
3. Seattle Sounders FC
At this point in the competitions, it’s going to be the little things that send you home. The Sounders fell victim to the same thing that got the Whitecaps, the triple name faux pas. I love everything else about this team, the Pacific Northwest is an amazing part of the country, the Sounders reportedly have the best fans in MLS and I have to be honest, despite early reluctance to embrace the lime green, their uniforms grew on me. They’re owned by Drew Carey, they’re relatively new, but I just couldn’t give it to them, it’s not you, Sounders, it’s me.
2. Chicago Fire SC
The Chicago Fire made a last-second push up the leader board. If I had made this list three months ago, the Fire would likely be toward the middle of the pack, but with the selection of fellow Davis High graduate, Jalil Anibaba, the Fire gained steam. There is no question I want Anibaba to succeed and will unquestionably be rooting for him. I also respect the SC in the team name, they’ve embraced America, but unfortunately those two factors didn’t make up for the fact that they play in Chicago. Chicago made a valiant effort, but the reality is that I would not have many opportunities to see them play in person, and the home stadium atmosphere is a big part of soccer games.
1. Portland Timbers
The Portland Timbers really had everything I could have wanted in a franchise. They are an expansion team, so I can start my MLS journey with them and we can navigate this crazy league hand-in-hand. They are located in Portland, one of my favorite cities in America and I will have plenty of opportunities to see them play. Having gone to college in Oregon, I have friends in Portland and make trips up there every year. Their logo and uniforms are cool, and more importantly, their colors match my favorite baseball team’s, the A’s. While I’m not 100% sold on the red away uniforms, I love the way they are embracing the Rose City, and I think the atmosphere at their home games is going to be crazy.
So there you have it, I am officially a Timbers fan. I may not be an Oregonian by birth, but in my heart I’m an Oregonian, and I will be reppin’ the Rose City ‘til I die… at least when it comes to soccer.