Another season, another MLS Cup Playoffs appearance for the Seattle Sounders. This time around though, this appearance in the playoffs was practically a gimme. We knew we'd make it this whole time., merely playing out the games as an act of formality. But lo, yesterday saw the season end for eight teams, eight plucky losers who don't know what success tastes like. What a bunch of idiots. For the remaining twelve teams, however, this year's version of the Audi's 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs promise to be the best playoffs ever, mostly because Portland isn't invited and we don't have to hear Caleb Porter blame anybody but himself any longer this year.
Even though every team played 34 unevenly scheduled games, we still use these random, knockout, shot-in-the-dark contests to determine the ultimate best team of the season. Twelve teams enter. One team, eventually two months later, leaves.
It's been a year since we last had an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs sponsored by Audi, so you might not be super familiar with how it occurs. Do you watch American football? Yeah, the Audi Playoffs of Audi's MLS work just like that. The top two teams get a bye into the Conference Semifinals, while the other four teams play in a seeded Knockout round. The lowest seed to advance faces the top seed in the conference.
But the Knockout Rounds are a one-game, winner-takes-all. The Conference Semifinals and the Conference Finals are a two-legged home-and-away series, where the away goals tiebreaker rule will apply. If after 180 minutes of play the game remains tied and away goals do not determine the winner, they play two 15-minute extra time periods. If it's tied after that: penalty kicks. While the allure of a game going into penalty kicks is all well and good, it's still a pretty bogus way to determine a victor. But who am I to criticize the glory and majesty that is MLS?
So, who's gonna win the big enchilada? The whole shebang? The Colossus of Clout? Rest assured, good friends, for I am here to help you out. By now we know that the playoffs are a crapshoot, hard to determine a winner, with games on short rest, games on long rest, hot streaks and scoring droughts, so in order to parse through all the information in an easily digestible manner, I've decided to assign, to the best of my ability, an identity that typifies each team.
This method eschews science, it forgoes maths and history, but instead uses rational thoughts and logic to determine a winner. And who doesn't love sports for its logic and rational thought. This assigned identity will be used in these head to head matches, one versus the other. It's really straight forward, so let's get to it.
Which Harry Potter villain best represents each playoff team?
With a new chapter of this Harry Potter universe opening up in a few weeks, introducing new characters, new canon, new villains, let's take an opportunity to rehash what has been; nay - who has been. This allows me to cut through the nonsense of tactics, formations, injury reports, travel and rest time and really cut to the chase. In a Wizard Duel, who would win?
New York Red Bulls - Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy has an impressive pedigree. He comes from a proud family with deep roots and has been afforded any and every opportunity that comes his way. He wields power in a calm strength, but he also caves when the pressure is on him. Draco is tortured by his future.
New York City FC - Dolores Umbridge
Appearances mean everything to Dolores Umbridge; on the outside she has the saccharine sweetness that makes you want to vomit, while on the inside she's rotten to the core. She allies herself with people more powerful than her, riding in their coattails but not satisfied as a background player, instead she'll forge her own path no matter the costs. It's her way or nothing else. What if her way is evil?
Toronto FC - Lucius Malfoy
Like his son Draco, Lucius Malfoy comes from a long line of powerful wizards. He himself has used his vast fortune and high-birth to establish himself as a big player in the world. However, despite his position of power, he has never really amounted to much. He's not a case of look-how-good-he-is, but rather look-how-good-he-should-be.
D.C. United - Bellatrix Lestrange
Chaos personified - that's how I'd describe Bellatrix Lestrange. She just does for the sake of doing. Sociopathic, psychopathic, I dunno, I'm not a psychologist, I just know that at the same point she's extraordinarily dangerous while being wildly inconsistent. Unpredictability is all well and good, except when it comes to sustained greatness.
Montreal Impact - Crabbe and Goyle
Oh these guys? Yeah, nobody takes them seriously. They just exist when it's convenient for them to exist. They're a literary foil nobody asked or cared about, singular in purpose and easily discarded.
En Québécois: Montréal est si bon. Ils sont les meilleurs d'exister jamais. La France est également très bon. La France est aussi le meilleur pays du monde. Québec devrait être un pays.
Philadelphia Union - Dudley Dursley
Yeah, Dudley shouldn't even be here. He's not a viable threat, merely a nuisance; an early obstacle to get past.
FC Dallas - Gilderoy Lockheart
Everybody loves to praise good ol' boy Gilderoy Lockheart. "Oh look at how special he is," they cry. Hogwash. Past all the bluster, behind the veneer, he's pretty shallow and easily overcome. If your memories of Lockheart are pleasant or positive, it's not too late to see the truth.
Colorado Rapids - Barty Crouch Jr.
Nobody saw Barty Crouch Jr's resurgence coming, just one day it was after a long time of it wasn't. After long periods of non-relevance, Barty likes to concoct asinine plans that are so convoluted and overly complicated, missing opportunity after opportunity to reach his end goal but instead eschewing those for something more dramatic maybe... I dunno. He's dumb. And he should probably invest in chapstick.
LA Galaxy - Voldemort
Make no mistake, Voldemort exudes power. He is power. He is absolute power. He is absolute power corrupted. He is corrupted power. He's old, trying to reclaim the last semblance of being important. He is gathering all his power, all his assets into one last push for power, one last push for relevance before it evaporates in the wind.
Seattle Sounders - Severus Snape
For the longest time, Severus Snape was a bad dude, until he wasn't. He was so good at being bad, at pretending to be bad, that he had everybody convinced he was bad. He had everybody fooled. Nope. Surprise. He's so good he'll bring you to tears.
Sporting Kansas City - Dementors
Spend enough time around a dementor and they'll suck all the joy out of a person, they'll take away all that is good and pure in this world and replace it with harrowed despair. A dementor has no motivation other than replacing positives with negatives. The ultimate fun-suckers.
Real Salt Lake - Tom Riddle's Diary
The diary of Tom Riddle serves only one singular purpose: to return to former glory. It doesn't work though. I mean, the diary works fine, it'll interact with you and everything, but its plan is dumb and was more of a shot-in-the-dark than anything else.
Lucius Malfoy vs. Dudley Dursley
On one side of the Wizard Duel, we have an accomplished Warlock who takes pleasure in tormenting those who aren't born into pure-blooded wizarding families. On the other side you have a boy who loses his composure when he doesn't get his way. Well, he's not gonna get his way this time. Matter of fact, it's going to be ugly.
Winner: Lucius Malfoy
Bellatrix Lestrange vs. Crabbe and Goyle
You'd think having two wizards, though young and untested, would prove more than enough to overcome a witch, but these two wizards are pretty incompetent, easily distracted, and most likely illiterate. The witch in question? Yeah, she's cruel, crafty, and delights in the pain of others.
Winner: Bellatrix Lestrange
Voldemort vs. Tom Riddle's Diary
So here's what we know. Before becoming Voldemort, the wizard-who-must-not-be-named was actually named Tom Riddle. So this is an old man facing off against his former diary. That diary is a horcrux of Voldemort, which means it can only be destroyed by an inconvenient plot-device, which, for the most part, took the form of a weapon imbued with basilisk blood. A basilisk is a large serpent. Voldemort can talk to serpents. Tom Riddle's Diary can interact with you when you interact with it. So if Voldemort didn't interact with the diary, instead ordered the basilisk to bite the diary, I think the outcome is pretty clear.
Severus Snape vs. Dementors
Scary though they might be, dementors are easily defeated. All you have to do is think of a happy thought and a magical animal will banish it. Any powerful wizard can do it. Why, even non-powerful wizards can do it, with the proper training.
Draco Malfoy vs. Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange is powerful, but so is Draco Malfoy. There are differences between the two, main ones being that Draco is resourceful while Bellatrix is overly-confident. But she's also willing to do heinous acts against other people, while Draco seems to possess more compassion, an unwillingness to harm others. It's this goodness in him that would see to overcome Bellatrix's pure chaos.
Winner: Draco Malfoy
Dolores Umbridge vs. Lucius Malfoy
This matchup is a difficult one to determine. Both here failed to overpower some plucky teenagers, even if those teenagers did require deus ex machinas in order to pull it off. After years of being outsmarted by kids, Lucius Malfoy lost his edge. Dolores Umbridge, however, persevered. Her relentless and singular determination is something that cannot be overlooked.
Winner: Dolores Umbridge
Gilderoy Lockheart vs. Severus Snape
The master of Obliviate versus the master of Occlumency. One seeks to alter the mind of another, while the other seeks to block those from accessing the mind. Hmm.
Barty Crouch Jr. vs. Voldemort
Barty Crouch Jr. made a better teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts than he did a practitioner of the Dark Arts. Voldemort is the Dark Arts. His body was forged and bound by Dark Arts. Sure, Barty Crouch Jr. might be able to defend himself for a time, but he could never be victorious. After all, his plan of victory would be 10 months long and require an inordinate amount of luck and ridiculousness.
Draco Malfoy vs. Dolores Umbridge
Umbridge, despite her position, despite the fact that she exudes power, hasn't manifested that power often. Draco puts himself in advantageous positions, though doesn't always seem to follow through once he finds himself at the finish line. Umbridge is a formidable obstacle for Draco, while she would overlook the young wizard's power. He never had his heart into doing the wrong thing, but knowing he could once fight for good by eliminating evil, and make no mistakes about it, Umbridge is evil, I think this fight comes down to the wire.
Winner: Draco Malfoy
Voldemort vs. Severus Snape
Voldemort is one of the most powerful wizards to ever exist, certainly one of the most powerful dark wizard, a powerful dark wizard that Severus Snape, through magic, was able to deceive for years. With all assets available to them, Voldemort would use his snake Nagini to do his dirty work. But this is a fair fight and Voldemort ain't got no snake. Plus what is Voldemort's one weakness? Love. What powers Snape? Yeah.
MLS Cup Final
Draco Malfoy vs. Severus Snape
Oh, please. Draco always had Snape do his dirty work, not because he wouldn't do it for himself, but because he couldn't do it for himself. Without Snape, Draco is nothing. As a result, Snape knows Draco's abilities better than anybody. Plus he can read minds, yo. "What's that spell you're about to cast?" his mind would ask Draco? Boom, he'd know before Draco would finish his thought. Plus, Snape makes up his own spells, like vicious blood-letting spells that he knows Draco is susceptible to. I mean, this outcome is known.