The preseason is a wonderful time. Your team hasn’t played a match, hasn’t disappointed you, hasn’t made you sit through an agonizing five minutes of stoppage time as it defends for its life in hopes of holding onto a draw.
Right now, everything is good. You can win MLS Cup. In nine months, you could be joining hundreds of other loyal fans trying not to look too drunk while in line to get a picture with the Philip F. Anschutz trophy.
There is a bit of a problem, though. Your team sucks.
Yes, your team. It sucks and will not win MLS Cup. You will not drink six bottles of champagne and get the club’s crest tattooed on your chest. You will not have to figure out a way to steal your left back’s championship ring “because he got us knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup so screw him anyway.” You will not be champion of a glorious league that made Chad Barrett a winner, but dangnagggit, it has parity.
What terrible flaws will doom your team and leave them to drown in the puddles of 20 teams’ tears?
New York City FC
It’s an expansion team, and like most expansion teams, NYCFC is short on talent. You couldn’t find a single person outside of club officials who think this team’s going to win a trophy this year, and the last time we trusted NYCFC officials, we thought Frank Lampard had a contract with the team.
But mainly, NYCFC won’t win MLS Cup because of this.
Not even Mix Diskerud’s hair can save them.
Another expansion team! So yeah, it’s done for, too. But while Orlando may not actually win MLS Cup, or even compete for it, at least it’s brought a purple kit to the league. That deserves a trophy. Of course, the team’s mascot will eat the trophy before murdering your children, but at least it’ll have gotten some silverware.
Stick to poutine.
San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose was the worst team in the Western Conference last season and its best addition for 2015 is its new stadium. That stadium comes with the longest outdoor bar in North America – the least the Quakes could do for its fans, given the quality of the team.
Two years ago, the Rapids were young, dynamic and exciting. Oscar Pareja had turned the club around. The future looked great. Then Pareja left for FC Dallas, and Colorado plummeted down the standings.
But at least it has Zac MacMath in goal, who was the starter for the Philadelphia Union last year, beating out two other first choice goalkeepers to do it. That is until he was dropped to third choice. Or second choice? But then first choice again. Wait, the Union had three goalkeepers? And now he’s on a team even more mismanaged than the Union? Well, go Rapids, but you’re clearly not winning anything.
The Fire were barely better than Chivas USA last year. And Chivas USA is dead.
Dominic Kinnear did more with less than anyone else in MLS. Now he’s in San Jose. The club’s solutions? Hire a manager from abroad who doesn’t know the league and turn to”Cubo” Torres – a player from Chivas Guadalajara and Chivas USA. “Solution” obviously means something completely different in Houston.
Other factors: Orange is ugly. Orange is really ugly. Their jerseys are ugly. The Fashion Gods are real.
Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco make for arguably the best trio in MLS history. They are talented, skilled, powerful and entirely devoid of hair. That makes them incredibly aerodynamic.
But there is no power stronger than the curse of Toronto FC. Put on any other shirt and this is an MLS Cup winner, but they’re more likely to end up in a Rogaine commercial than in a final.
Philadelphia only has two goalkeepers, which is a huge improvement. It also still has the same front office that landed it three goalkeepers a year ago. Are you betting on a team that is unclear how goalkeepers work?
Just consider how bad a team with Diego Valeri had to be to miss the playoffs.
The Timbers are charming. They’re like you and me. They try, they care, they want good things for the community. And like you and me they probably drink a lot of beer, eat a lot of pizza and try to do their jobs hungover.
Sporting Kansas City
When you live in Kansas, or Missouri (or Kansas?), then you are already going to struggle for swag. Then you let French King of Style and all around badass Aurelien Collin go? You’re helpless now.
You’ve been a club for four years and the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies are still the coolest thing to happen at your stadium. Why haven’t you been relegated?
New York Red Bulls
Your owners don’t even want you anymore.
Honestly, what’s the point of even playing matches if they don’t have the power of the Village People anymore?
The Hoops haven’t played for MLS Cup since they canned Schellas Hyndman. No butter leather jacket, no glory.
Real Salt Lake
And you’ll never be royals (royals)
It don’t run in your blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for you
You can’t play for MLS Cup if your entire team is trapped under the rubble of RFK Stadium. Unless you’re going to have the RFK rats play, which is probably a better idea than counting on Eddie Johnson.
So Seattle didn’t invent spending a ton of money and putting together great rosters to not win MLS Cup, but it does it better than the Red Bulls and Toronto FC.
New England Revolution
Good goalkeeper? Check.
Capable defense? Check.
Dominant midfield? Check.
MVP candidate? Check.
Depth up front? Check.
This Revolution team is as good as any in club history. There’s no way they don’t lose in another final.
Steven Gerrard has played 17 years without winning a league title. Once a loser, always a loser.
So who will win MLS Cup?
The one club that hasn’t made a mistake all offseason. Happy MLSing!