It is very, very likely your team is not in MLS Cup. Which … bummer. Hey, at least your team (probably), ya know, made the playoffs. That being said, you’re going to need someone to cheer for Saturday night (8:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info).
The first way to do that is to put money on a team. You’re far braver than I am if you do. But hey, what’s smarter than putting money down on a league where one of the teams made the final after scoring three goals in the last 18 minutes of the game to complete a comeback and it was only like the fourth-wildest thing of the entire postseason?
The second way to do it is to find the team you identify with on a fundamental level and cheer for their success. The third, and far more fun way, is to choose a team you want to see lose on a stoppage-time own goal based on nothing but pure, undistilled spite. I’m going to try and help you with both.
Cheer for: Columbus Crew SC
For fans of: Sexy zombies, erector sets, Guy Fieri, doing the least amount of work in a group project, playing through a video game on “easy” before getting to the final, boss and switching to the hardest difficulty for some reason, the home team, the underdog, being in the majority, throwing one last big party before you move, getting a C in the class but a 5 on the AP exam, Darlington Nagbe.
Hop on the wagon: Because this is a team that not only banded together as a fan base to even get to this moment, but also banded together as a team to somehow possibly do some kind of deep magic to convince the universe to hand them the sixth, seventh and eighth seed in descending order in a stacked bracket. It seems like the universe wanted them here. Which, all considered, feels like a karmic reward.
The Crew stumbled at the end of the regular season, got themselves all psyched up for the biggest competition of their life, and then started looking around nervously when they realized they were the only ones who hadn’t broken a sweat. You have to respect the person in the Royal Rumble who lets everyone else finish off the heavyweights. The only problem now is they’re stuck in the ring with the biggest of them all.
But that’s why you’re here. You’re here on this bandwagon because you think Rocky could have realistically beat Drago. You’re a dreamer. You love the story. You believe life could be just like a musical if everyone would just memorize the choreography you’ve repeatedly emailed them. This is a story of hope, and redemption, and the world for once getting something right in 2020. You’re low key honestly not a genius, but hey, you’re polite and you smile at the appropriate times. And everyone appreciates that. “Keep on keeping on” you tell people at your office in hopes they ask you how you’re doing so you can respond “Just living the dream.”
Cheer for: Seattle Sounders FC
For fans of: Announcing yourself when you walk into a crowded room, the boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the comedy stylings of Drew Carey, meritocracies, Thanos from Star Wars, the Golden New Alabama State Patriot Yankees, the “Beethoven” movie series, the water in “Waterworld,” pastels, Nouhou.
Hop on the wagon: The world has rules. A natural order. Those rules are to be followed and diets maintained. “There are no cheat days” you explain to someone at the gym who didn’t ask you to talk to them and already recognized there were no cheat days by your “There are no cheat days” graphic T-shirt.
Someone once told you a joke and you almost smiled. You remember that day fondly. The happiest day of your life.
In your daily 30 minutes of scheduled free-time, you examined the MLS landscape and found Seattle is in fact the most talented and well-disciplined team. They should be rewarded for this. Life is about a fair and just universe delivering rewards. You order yourself another graphic T-shirt. Your reward. It’s rave green. It says in a white Helvetica font, “Sounders.” “Go Sounders” would have been far too superfluous.
Cheer against: Columbus
For people who dislike: Movie montages, taxis, the Akron Zips, the Karate Kid winning with an illegal head kick, Guy Fieri, a clear indication the writer has run out of “jokes” for the “for people who” sections
Steal the tires off the wagon: Look it’s not that you don’t like happy stories, you just don’t need everyone getting in their feelings about everything. It’s not personal. You’re just rooting against Columbus because they got a favorable draw, you’re tired of everyone talking about how they’re the underdog, and because you’re from Cincinnati.
Cheer against: Seattle
For people who dislike: The prolonged happiness of others.
Steal the tires off the wagon: I’m going to go ahead and assume the large majority of folks are here. And I think it’s maybe Seattle’s greatest accomplishment. It takes consistent success to get to this point. But I want you to consider maybe it is not Seattle that’s the monster. Maybe it is you.
Maybe in a world where happiness feels so fleeting, a place where we so often think we’ve gotten what we want, but realize every single moment can’t be filled with joy, a society that forces us to constantly compare ourselves to others who have been gifted far greater lives and a universe where we attempt to find comfort in the randomness and chaos of our everyday experiences but rarely succeed … Maybe in that world we can sit back, and simply appreciate that a group of people, somewhere, get to be consistently happy.
What’s that? … uh-huh … uh-huh … you’re from the future? … uh-huh … Seattle win 4-3 after scoring four goals in stoppage time after stoppage time inexplicably lasts 20 minutes?
Burn their wagon down.