Ok. Almost there. Pull together guys. We can get through this. I know you’re as sick of reading about MLS as I am of writing about it. But bear with me through one more of these things and we can get back to talking about real footy.
I’ll be doing this for the rest of the motherfucking season. Suck it.
But this is the last post previewing the teams. (In case you missed it, you can check out part one and two and three) We’re down to the last five teams in the West, and I hope to god some of them aren’t terrible. Right now my front-runners are probably Kansas City, Philly, Montreal or founding a cult devoted to Chiva Fighter.
Gut Reaction: The logo isn’t any tackier than any other MLS logo. I’m surprised it’s not better though, because all the newish logos like the Union and Montreal and KC have really nice ones. I’ve never been to Portland but I hear good things. And I’ve seen Portlandia. Are Portland people really sick of that shit? Your sole identifier is that you’re full of hipster douchenozzles? I bet at first Portland was all, “oh man, a show about Portland that’s funny and makes fun of its quirks, this will be great!” but now everyone in the world has turned Portlandia into shorthand for something quirky and weird and now Portland’s probably all “seriously, if you say Portlandia to me again one more time I swear to fucking Christ I will end you.” I also have a really hard time reconciling Portlandia and the Jail Blazers in my head.
Personnel: Kris Boyd is the big story here. He’s the highest goal scorer in the history of the SPL, which is a bit like being the dry heavingest kid at bulimia camp, but whatever. At 28, he’ll probably dominate this league if his support staff is any good. Franck Songo’o has played for a lot of different teams in England and Spain, but not very often or very successfully. Welcome to MLS, Franck! Eddie Johson plays there, but not Fast Eddie Johnson of “being mediocre for the US” fame. This is a different one. That Eddie Johnson plays for Seattle. Holy what the… RIVAL EDDIE JOHNSONS AT RIVAL CLUBS? Best thing ever? Best thing ever. Portland also boasts hilariously named double act Bright Dike and Futty Danso. Love those guys already.
History & Trvia: Last season was their first in MLS and they failed to qualify for the playoffs. They’re fierce rivals with the Sounders and they also have a new Cascadian enemy in the Vancouver Whitecaps. Their supporters seem like absolute maniacs in the best possible way. Their main supporters group is called the Timbers Army and they congregate in a section of the stadium known as The Woodshed, presumably for the sole purpose of making good on threats to take someone out behind the woodshed. Which is awesome.
Timber Joey is their mascot, and wow do I love this chainsaw-wielding nutjob. Every time the Timbers score he cuts off a round from a large log with one of his chainsaws. That’s chainsaws. Plural. They have a guy wandering around a sporting event, carrying multiple fucking chainsaws, who chops up trees several times a match. And then he gives the fucking thing to the goal-scorer after the game. The keeper gets one too if there’s a clean sheet. Logs for everyone! Sounds like Timber Joey only needs the flimsiest excuse to power that thing up, so streakers beware. Oh, and that kid up there? He was used in promotional materials by the club to sell tickets. No Pity In The Rose City.
Gut Reaction: I hate your name, Salt Lake. For Real. There’s nothing royal about you. King of the Mormons? Sure, bro. And is that a badge or a cereal box? That jauntily tilted “e” with its stupid fucking crown and the subtitle under it? Get that amateur bullshit outta here. If the logo stopped above the RSL and cut out the words, it would be simple and tasteful and nice. But it doesn’t so take a walk, SLC.
Personnel: Captain Kyle Beckerman has really cool white guy dreds. He’s also recently rejoined the USMNT after a long exile, but I don’t imagine he’ll stick around for long. So that means we’ve got a defensive midfielder leading the team who’s not as good as Ricardo Clark. Excellent. Nick Rimando’s a good keeper and he looked excellent against Panama earlier this year. But he’s a little fella and with the US’s goalkeeping depth, he’ll never make the number one spot his own. But I’d guess he’s a very good MLS keeper. Their designated player Alvaro Saborio scores 1 in 3 for Costa Rica. He’s scored goals wherever he’s gone actually, except Bristol City in the Championship. So, MLS is worse than Bristol City? Is that about right?
History & Trvia: In 2009 they fluked their way into the playoffs with a losing record, somehow won the Eastern Conference finals despite being in the West, stumbled past the Galaxy in the final to win their first and only MLS Cup, and then somehow went on in 2011 to become the first MLS side to reach the CONCACAF Champions League finals where they lost 3-2. Not gonna lie, I really don’t get MLS. Checking into their mascot situation, looks like they pulled together the finest minds in Utah and come up with Leo the Lion. Dynamite work, guys.
They do have pretty great looking kits though.
Gut Reaction: Their badge continues the trend of cartoon garbage I’ve come to expect from MLS. It also doesn’t seem to have anything to do with an actual earthquake. Instead, they’ve opted for a
soccer ball with tentacles rising sun. Which makes sense because the sun rises in the west. I thought this place was supposed to be full of brainiac computer geniuses? Oh snap. Nice one, me.
Personell: Simon Dawkins is back on loan again from Spurs where he will resume his place as the best player in MLS, probably. Chris Wondolowski won the Golden Boot in 2010 and tied for it last year, so goals shouldn’t be a problem. Anthony Ampaipitakwong has a helluva last name and is eligible for the US and Thailand, and even though Thailand’s national team is terrible, if this kid’s any good he’ll probably choose to represent them instead of us because that’s just what happens.
History & Trivia: San Jose has technically won the MLS Cup twice, but that was before the team moved to Houston and became the Dynamo and then reformed again in San Jose in 2008. Do we count those? I have no idea. San Jose has a club partnership with Spurs, so part of me feels obligated to support them for that reason, but that’s pretty flimsy. The previous incarnation of the Quakes had Rikter the CyberDog for a mascot and he seemed pretty cool. But I guess he had to be put down or something because they now have a new mascot. His name is Q and he is an unholy abomination. Supposedly he was once a man who fell into a radioactive fissure after the San Jose Earthquake of 1906, only to emerge as a blue furry monstrosity who lives on a diet of coffee to give him the energy he needs to be a mascot. Uh, what the fuck guys? I would much rather you pick something boring and generic like Leo the Lion than go on a two week meth bender and come up with this bullshit. Also, his wikipedia page says he’s a Liverpool fan. a) fuck that guy and b) how embarrassing is it that your mascot is a fan of another team?
Gut Reaction: Hey wow, space needle! Given the rabid support this team is supposed to have, you’d think the team would have its act together in the logo department. I don’t know why I’m even surprised anymore. MLS teams all have shitty logos and I guess I just have to accept that. Why am I even doing this anymore? LET ME OUT OF THIS MLS-SHAPED BOX! All I can see when I close my eyes is Drew Carey’s freakishly skinny physique. He haunts my dreams.
Personell: They’ve got speedy awesome winger Steve Zakuani. I don’t care that he was a youth teamer for Arsenal. He once gave an interview to UF and that makes him ok in my book. As I mentioned above, Fast Eddie Johnson is here. They have a DP in captain and former River Plate winger/forward Mauro Rosales. BG probably loves him. They also have two other DPs in Alvaro Fernandez and Fredy Montero. With three DPs I’d guess this team is pretty good, but I have no idea. Apparently last year’s Galaxy team are the first team with a DP to EVER win the MLS Cup. Which freaks me out a little bit. Almost as much as skinny Drew Carey.
History & Trivia: They’re pretty new so they haven’t won yet, but I imagine it’s only a matter of time. Sigi Schmid’s a good manager and they’re one of the best supported teams in the league. They don’t have a mascot, which I find hugely disappointing. How can you show up with nothing when your arch rivals have a guy with a chainsaw running around the stadium? Don’t you have any pride? I guess what they lack in mascots they make up for with some seriously kick-ass tifo displays. The Emerald City Supporters are amazing in this department. If I lived in Seattle I would love to be a part of this, but living about as far away from Seattle as possible while still being in the continental US, the best part of being a Sounders fan is unavailable to me.
Gut Reaction: Their badge has the whitecaps of the white-capped mountains and the white-crested waves of the Pacific Ocean. Or something. I’m past caring at this point. I hear good things about Vancouver as a city and it’s also located in the soccer-crazed Pacific Northwest. And if you like rivalries, this seems like the place to be. They’ve got their Pacific Northwest rivals in Seattle and Portland, and then they’ve got Canadian rivals in Toronto and Montreal. They’ve got roughly one-quarter of the league hating them. That can’t be a bad thing.
Personell: More Spurs! Young-Pyo Lee was criminally underrated during his time in the better half of North London and I always loved that guy. I remember when the ‘Caps signed him they had this big unveiling/autograph signing at Asian grocery store Super H Mart, which came across as really weird to me. They’ve also got Scottsman Barry Robson joining them in July after he’s done with his season at Middlesbrough and he should be a good addition to the squad. Vancouver also appears to be where Seb Le Toux ended up after he left Philly, so that’s exciting. Oh, and did I mention they also have American Hero Jay DeMerit? Because they do, and he’s a hero.
History & Trivia: They’re new too, so they haven’t won anything. Steve Nash is an owner and his brother Martin used to play here and is now part of the coaching staff. They’re also Spurs fans. Their supports group are called the Southsiders and they don’t seem as cool as the other Cascadian options. Their mascot is a demented-looking bird called Winger which gets double points for being both a bird pun and a soccer pun. That’s some next level shit right there.
Well that’s all the teams. The Timbers look supremely badass and they’ve probably jumped to the top of the pile. If they have anything resembling an exciting on-field product, I’ll have a hard time picking anyone else. The Sounders also seem great for their fan support and tifo displays. They also seem like they’re probably a better team than the Timbers. As long as Skinny Drew Carey stays the fuck away from me, I could be happy watching them. Vancouver seems fine and I appreciate the Spurs connections, but they’re definitely behind their Cascadian competitors. San Jose seems whatever and Real Salt Lake seems very less than whatever.
Now that I’m done with my preseason bullshit previews, here’s how the teams stack up overall:
Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact
Chivas Fighter, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, Vancouver Whitecaps
DC United, Toronto FC, New England Revolution, San Jose Earthquakes
Columbus Crew, New York Red Bull, LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake
Can’t wait to
get back to writing about real soccer! see what these teams actually look like on the field. What an exciting season we have ahead of us!