Welcome to MLS, Tempo.
You didn’t know you needed an MLS Mascots Best XI, but you’re getting one. Let me know which mascots got snubbed and where they should play on Twitter or in the comment section. This is very serious, so treat it that way.
GK – Tac-Tik (CF Montréal)
Goalkeepers are different, a little bit crazy even. That’s a tired, retirable cliché, but too many of the folks who hang out between the posts come right out and admit it, about themselves and others who pull on the gloves and willingly take shots to the face and other sensitive body parts.
Take a closer look at Tac-Tik’s expression, outfit and overall aura. Look at those big, soft paws. Look into his somewhat googly eyes. I see someone staring back at me who is different, a little bit crazy even. This soccer pup has a shot literally embedded in his dome. His name is Tac-Tik. He is my clear No. 1.
Backup GK – Gary The Lion (FC Cincinnati)
Look, Tac-Tik’s clock could be ticking down. We don’t know if that adorably goofy dog is going to survive Montreal’s identity change. If he’s a stuffed relic of the past, that opens up an opportunity for Gary, who also looks just a little bit … out there. This is Gary’s big chance. He’s watched Cincy’s ‘keepers get peppered with shots. He’s got wings (?!?!) to help him get to the top corner. All that orange fur is basically a goalkeeper jersey. His crown makes him look bigger in 1v1 situations.
LB – Spike the Kingfisher (Vancouver Whitecaps)
We know the best left back in the world come out of the ‘Caps academy. Spike is the latest to patrol the flank with abandon. Here’s what AllAboutBirds.org has to say about Kingfishers:
With its top-heavy physique, energetic flight, and piercing rattle, the Belted Kingfisher seems to have an air of self-importance as it patrols up and down rivers and shorelines. It feeds almost entirely on aquatic prey, diving to catch fish and crayfish with its heavy, straight bill.
All mascots are top-heavy, so that’s an easy checkmark. Energetic flight? Patrolling up and down shorelines/sidelines? Diving in to catch fish/win tackles with its straight bill/leg? Yes, I need that in my left back. An air of self-importance? All the best players have that. Plus, a piercing rattle? Welcome to Spike Island, opposing wingers.
CB – Sammy the Sounder (Seattle Sounders)
It goes without saying that you stay the hell away from Orcas. Even the best goal sharks know that if the pod catches their scent, they’re liable to be bitten in half and separated from their liver. Too much? Just right for this manager. I’m looking for an apex predator in the back.
CB – Rapidman (Colorado Rapids)
Sammy is my alpha and Rapidman is the cerebral presence next to him, a veteran brought out of retirement to knit the backline together. Just look at that gigantic noggin. Tactical nous resides inside those blue cranial walls. Headers? Oh, he’s winning them. Rugged 50-50s? The man is jacked. Balls in behind? Gobbled up with Rapid recovery speed.
RB – Slyde (New England Revolution)
Grisly veteran CB imo - we have experience in this league— Slyde (@REALSlyde) January 13, 2021
Sorry, Slyde. You are not a center back in my system, though you are grisly. You are a fox, and foxes are crafty and sly. They slink around. They see or hear danger coming a mile away. They’re not the biggest dogs in the animal world, but they understand how to survive and thrive despite the occasional physical mismatch thanks to quickness and anticipation. They’ve got bite and a natural swagger to them. Slyde, you are a fox, and you are my Jay Heaps.
D-Mid – Timber Joey
Welcome to Zone 14, opposing attackers. You have high hopes of creating a goal-scoring opportunity. Meanwhile, we’ve got a guy with a chainsaw. Good luck!
CM – Q (San Jose Earthquakes)
What is Q good at? What is Q? He is everything. He is nothing. He is loved. He is hated. He is the guy/thing/extraterrestrial who famously stepped to David Beckham. I need a mascot who can cover every blade of grass in the Galaxy. I need a mascot who isn’t intimidated by the universe’s biggest stars. I need a mascot who embraces the midfield dirty work with a stupid smile plastered on his face. I need Q.
Att Mid – Cozmo (Galaxy)
I want an old-school No. 10, one who isn’t worried about defending … or running … or anything but maximum tekkers/banter. I want a No. 10 that’s going to create in the most audacious ways, who would rather embarrass someone than make the “right” play. Cozmo’s proven that he is that mascot. Get on the ball and make us gasp, my alien friend.
LW – Tempo (Nashville SC)
Coyotes can run forever. Their stride looks effortless. They’re shifty, too. Ultimately, their best attributes are their runs and ability to scavenge and find a meal/goal from nothing. I don’t need Tempo to be a star. I need him to complement the attackers around him and communicate. That howl is going to come in handy.
RW – Phang (Philadelphia Union)
In the modern game, you need a goal threat on the wing. Phang can slither through tight spaces and man-marking. He’s got a venomous shot (shout out to Twitter for that one). He’s Ilsinho, with fangs and 90-minutes match fitness. The mohawk is fitting, too. World-class wingers are always better with eye-catching, controversial haircuts.
FWD – Talon (D.C. United)
Gotta be able to score in many ways to get into this team. Talon is dangerous with his beak/head and a terror in the air. He can tear teams apart with his … well, talons/feet. He’s a killer, always on the hunt and singularly focused on scoring goals. He’s regal and All-American, too. His head is really big. He’s my Taylor Twellman.