Predicting The Playoffs: Who To Root For

TORONTO ON - NOVEMBER 21: MLS Commissioner Don Garber (R) hands the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy to Captain Pablo Mastroeni #25 (L) of the Colorado Rapids (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

The Major League Soccer playoffs begin tomorrow without the Portland Timbers, but that does not mean Timbers fans should lose interest. With just over half the league qualified the choices to root for are plentiful.

Reasons to root for or against each team in the playoffs (plus a poll!) after the jump.

The Eastern Conference

 

1. Sporting Kansas City

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 2W-0L-0T

Love Them: SKC struggled back from starting the season with a ten game road trip to end up in first place in the east. They weren’t always pretty but they feature an exciting offense loaded with you talent. Striker Kai Kamara is an MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year nominee for his charity work, particularly in his home nation of Sierra Leone.

Hate Them: Rookie forward C.J. Sapong scored on the Timbers and imitated Roger Levesque’s infamous goal celebration in front of the Timbers Army.

 

2. Houston Dynamo

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 1-0-1

Love Them: John Spencer is probably rooting for his old team.

Hate Them: Midfielder Adam Moffat, after riding the pine for the Timbers, joined the Dynamo in July and promptly scored on the Timbers from forty yards out in what was dubbed one of ESPN Sports Center’s top ten goals of the year. The Dynamo have also earned a reputation as a physical team that is reliant on set pieces, and while they have found success this year, they are not the most fun team to watch. Plus, they have already won the MLS Cup twice in their last five seasons.

Andy adds in the comments:

They prematurely ended Zizzo and Nagbe’s season and put Jewsbury and Chabala at risk for serious injury. They’re a bunch of thugs.

 

3. Philadelphia Union

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 0-1-1

Love Them: The Union are loaded up with Columbians including Faryd Mondragon who, in addition to having an awesome name, was playing for the Columbian national team when Diego Chara was only six years old. Also, rooting for the Union means rooting for Jefferson High School graduate Danny Mwanga.

Hate Them: Philadelphia’s talisman, Sebastian LeToux, is a former Sounder fan favorite and despite embracing his new home, the taint lingers.

 

The Western Conference

 

1. L.A. Galaxy

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 1-1-0

Love Them: David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan surrounded by one of the best supporting casts in MLS and coached by the most successful coach in MLS history.

Hate Them: David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan surrounded by one of the best supporting casts in MLS and coached by the most successful coach in MLS history.

 

2. Seattle Sounders

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 1-0-1

Love Them: Nope.

Hate Them: They are the Seattle Sounders.

 

3. Real Salt Lake

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 0-1-1

Love Them: They are paired up against the Sounders. You have to root for them for at least one series. They are also one of the most talented squads in MLS and, despite stumbling into the playoffs without a win in their last six games, will be returning to full strength with the end of team captain Kyle Beckerman’s red card suspension.  Did I mention they will be playing against the Sounders?

Hate Them: Their beer is weak and so are their dives. Javier Morales and Andy Williams are two of the most talented distributors of the ball in MLS but both have a propensity for hitting the ground early and often.

 

The Wild Cards

 

1. F.C. Dallas

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 1-1-0

Love Them: Since Schellas Hyndman took over in 2008 F.C. Dallas has been a regular contender featuring plenty of young talent, particularly Brek Shae who has been on the verge of breaking into the starting line-up of the United States national team. Former Timber Jeremy Hall has also been getting minutes at left back for Dallas as they struggle through numerous injuries.

Hate Them: The team formerly known as the Burn gave the Timbers their biggest defeat of the year, putting four goals past Troy Perkins in Frisco.

 

2. Colorado Rapids

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 2-0-0

Love Them: Omar Cummings is always good for two or three moments of absolute magic each game.

Hate Them: The Rapids made the Timbers first game in the MLS era less than triumphant. Missing Conor Casey and Pablo Mastroeni also removes two key cogs from the Rapids offence, leaving behind a team that struggles to function properly in their absence.

 

3. Columbus Crew

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 1-1-0

Love Them: The team that Sigi Schmid, Seattle’s current boss, built has finally been made anew.

Hate Them: Tom Heinemann has the stupidest hair on a team with a long history of stupid hair.

 

4. New York Red Bulls

Record Against the Timbers in 2011: 1-0-1

Love Them: Nope. Had Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard on their team at one point, I guess.

Hate Them: Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez were both known as classy players overseas. Strange then that they are perhaps best known in the US for their shenanigans rather than their Champions League victories. Henry famously used a handball to eliminate Ireland from the 2010 World Cup and followed that up with his first two professional red cards this season. Marquez, of course, was most well known to Americans for headbutting Cobi Jones back in 2002 but is now renowned for throwing his teammates on the Red Bulls defence under a bus, getting benched, and having them play better without him.

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