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What you need to know

Happy MLS Cup Eve

Tomorrow. 4 pm ET. Lower.com Field. On Apple TV (Free), FOX and FOX Deportes. I would watch if I were you.

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A bandwagon guide to MLS Cup

Great news! MLS Cup is tomorrow. Bad news! Your team probably didn’t make it. Twenty-seven teams didn’t get to the finish line. Odds are, you’re a fan of one of those teams. Sorry. It’s tough out here, huh?

But that doesn’t mean you need to approach tomorrow with stoic neutrality. One of the two teams left likely speaks to you in some way. We just have to figure out which one. Well, good news again! Your best friends at The Daily Kickoff are here to help.

LAFC are potentially for fans of…

  • Max Verstappen
  • The Darth Vader hallway scene in “Rogue One”
  • Filling out forms in triplicate
  • Remarking the Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce relationship is “great marketing” every time they come on TV
  • Encouraging your young child to let someone else have the ball for a bit
  • When Real Madrid win the Champions League despite a -1.27 expected goal differential
  • Juventus
  • Going 4x4 on squat every. single. day.
  • Being upset when Marvel movies don’t hit their projected box office total because you believe the studio deserves better for all its work
  • Being confused when someone puts on a podcast that doesn’t involve self-improvement
  • Saying “work hard, play hard, right brother?” as you take a bigger sip than normal of your 3.4% ABV cider
  • Deleting Facebook
  • Running real fast with Kylian Mbappe on EA Sports FC
  • Falcons (not the bad football team, the very cool bird)
  • Thinking about the Roman Empire once a week

LAFC aren’t necessarily the “villains” here, but they are the reigning champs who wear all black and seem to brute force their way to wins and outsized success. So… yeah, kind of close to the villains. But that’s reductive! There’s something inherently entertaining about watching the bad guy in the movie be incredibly good at bad guy-ing. You might be outwardly frustrated when you’re doing the “THEY CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH IT!” bit, but, on the inside, you’re probably conceding it’s really impressive they keep getting away with it.

If you’re rooting for LAFC, you aren’t rooting for something bad. You’re rooting for something frustratingly great. They haven’t been at their best for the majority of this season, but they’re back in MLS Cup again because they’ve found a winning formula at the right time and have the talent to execute it. Even if that formula means finding a goal or two against the run of play sometimes.

It’s kind of exhilarating, right? Every time they break at speed, you start to wonder exactly what Dénis Bouanga is about to pull off. His full-speed, breakneck sprint of a goal against Seattle is one that’s going to stick with me for a long time. It’s the “Oh, come on, no one’s that good'' moment of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs so far. If he can give us something like that against Columbus, you’ll at least have to appreciate it even if you aren’t happy about it.

LAFC aren’t a romantic choice by most measures. But they are pretty cool.

Columbus are potentially for fans of…

  • Remarking loudly in a public setting you “think you would be sorted into Hufflepuff”
  • Being upset when Marvel movies don’t hit their projected box office total because you believe the character deserves better for all their work
  • Buying a used ticket from the “Eras Tour”
  • Getting trounced in EA Sports FC by some dude running really fast with Kylian Mbappe while you try to adhere to a “possession-based game model”
  • Quirky car bumper stickers
  • Not enjoying “Succession” because the characters are too mean
  • Quoting “The Office” still
  • Luffy from One Piece’s whole deal
  • Going to school for degrees that don’t have high earning potential
  • Trick-shot videos with sincere reactions
  • Knowing who “MrBeast” is
  • Missing “that really great summer where everyone just played Pokemon Go”
  • A wholly confusing TikTok algorithm
  • Darlington Nagbe

The Crew are for dreamers. If we’re pitting light vs. dark here, Columbus are the ultra-friendly protagonist whose naivety and heart eventually convince their doubters maybe the world can be a better place after all. That kind of thing never actually seems to work out in the real world. But maybe in this case it can.

They play a forward-thinking, chance-taking style that wholeheartedly believes in the idea you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. They take the kind of risks that sometimes result in being exposed defensively. They do everything you’d hope for from a team if you’re tuning in just to be entertained. And they stick to it, even if there are more pragmatic options available. That’s inspiring. Maybe also kind of silly? But even that kind of makes it more inspiring.

Plus, ya know, we’re definitely talking about a bit of a David and Goliath scenario here. Columbus have spent more than your average mid-market team, but LAFC are a whole different beast. There are levels to this, right? That doesn’t inherently make either team good or bad, it just presents a certain kind of narrative. We’re not judging you here if you choose one over the other. We just wanted you to be fully informed before you did.

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Good luck out there. Win wherever you go.