Over the last two days everyone and their mother has been telling everyone else and their mother who to root for and why in tonight's upcoming Cascadia Cup-deciding, playoff hope-controlling clash between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders.
As has been
beaten to death and then some mentioned, there are good reasons to root for both teams in this match. What about the rest of the teams in Major League Soccer, though? Why should Joe Timbers-Fan be rooting for any of them?
The Eastern Conference
For: The Timbers got their first-ever MLS win over the Fire back in 2011. Why that should make you want to root for the Fire, I am not entirely clear, but it does, dang it. Also, Section 8 and the Timbers Army are totally tight.
Against: Mike Magee is not that great. Mike Magee's day off? Dumb. Bradley Cooper look-alike jokes? Dumb. 2013 MLS MVP over Diego Valeri, Marco DiVaio, and Robbie Keane? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
For: This is finally no-longer the team that Sigi built. For years the Crew were coasting by on the talent brought in by Sigi Schmidt before he jumped ship for Seattle, but now they finally have moved on to a core of players with their own identity, even if they are once again entirely reliant on a magical Argentine for their entire attack.
Against: I will never call them "Crew SC". Nice badge, though.
For: Precious few teams can make the jump from worst to first (in their division) in a year. Plus, you have to like a team made up of scrappy underdogs, who have come together under the leadership of someone nicknamed "Captain Caveman".
Against: Eddie Johnson can go to hell.
For: For anyone who ever watched MLS in the mid-2000's, this video of once-and-again Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark kicking Carlos "the Fish" Ruiz will never lose its charm.
Against: They are the face of direct, ugly, pragmatic, no-fun soccer in MLS that everyone wanted to be like when they were winning every year and that half the league still wants to be like now that they are not.
For: They have Futty Danso!
Against: They took Futty Danso!
For: Young, exciting attackers? Check. National team prospects? Check. A style of play that is pretty darn pretty? Check.
Against: If you don't hate New England sports teams, you probably have not been paying attention to the last century or so. It is a shame, but the Revolution get, at the very least, the bleed-over from years of the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox being just insufferable.
For: Thierry Henry is a joy to watch.
Against: The original big-spenders; Red Bull came in, re-branded, spent a bunch, won a championship, didn't sell as much Red Bulls as they wanted to, lost interest, and is now reportedly looking to sell the team. And it is rumored that Henry wants out.
For: Philadelphia is essentially a non-entity for me when I think about the league, so let's say... Cheesesteaks?
Against: See above.
For: SKC graciously gave up the 2011 Goal of the Year to Darlington Nagbe and scored the Own Goal of Forever for the Timbers in 2012. Plus, barbecue.
Against: There are more hateable people in MLS than Aurelian Collin, but probably not in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn't be so aggravating if he wasn't also one of the league's best defenders.
For: You just have to feel bad for the fans in Toronto after most of a decade in MLS without a single visit to the playoffs. "Come on, buddy," you want to say to the Toronto collective, "you can do it this year."
Against: But then again, it is pretty hard to root for a team that proclaims itself a "bloody big deal", injures your captain, drops three stupid set-piece goals on you, and knocks you back out of your new playoff berth.
The Western Conference
For: They were the bastard child of the league from day one and have been resigned to club purgatory until they return in two years time as a whole new team with only the most tenuous link to what came before. Stand in solidarity with their long-suffering fans. They may have seen more success than Toronto FC ever has, but the well of suffering for the Black Army et al. is infinitely deeper.
Against: My god they are bad.
For: The Rapids have matches against Vancouver and Dallas coming up, two teams that the Timbers need to get through, one way or another, if they want a playoff berth.
Against: They play at altitude and beat the Timbers in their first-ever MLS match; take your pick. Either choice works.
For: Dallas's core of young players show that the MLS academy systems can produce some serious talents. Nobody uses homegrown players like Dallas does.
Against: Stupid Dallas lost to the Whitecaps last weekend. If they had managed to even draw the 'Caps then we wouldn't even be having this dang discussion.
For: The only team with a chance of knocking off the Sounders on the way to the Supporters' Shield.
Against: Like New England teams, LA teams are also the worst. Unlike the Revolution, however, the Galaxy have earned their way into the pantheon of hateable teams through consistent league favoritism over the last 19 years.
For: Aren't Nat Borchers' beard and Nick Rimando just wonderful?
Against: They were the Timbers' kryptonite last season and ended their playoff run. Jerks.
For: Maybe you got confused and thought you were rooting for the good Steven Lenhart? And we want them to take points off the Whitecaps.
Against: They employ the evil Steven Lenhart... Plus their fans come to Portland to get arrested, their team is a garbage dump set on fire, and they appropriated the Goonies as the mascots for their foul-first, soccer-second style of play.
Forget tonight's game; what reasons are there to root for the other teams in Cascadia?
For: Someone has a gun to your head or maybe kidnapped your family, depending on how much you like your family.
Against: They are the Seattle Sounders.
For: Someone has a gun to your head or maybe kidnapped your family, regardless of how much you like your family.
Against: They are the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Good Guys
Just for the sake of it.
For: You are smart and good looking.
Against: You are jealous of how smart and good looking Timbers fans are.
Have a reason to root for a team? Have one to root against one? Share them in the comments below.