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Open Flavor Friday: The Sounder at Heart Guide to rooting in the Bundesliga

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In which we give you plenty of Sounders-related reasons to root for various clubs.

Borussia Moenchengladbach Supporters Sustain Their Club By Buying Cardboard Characters Photo by Christian Verheyen/Borussia Moenchengladbach via Getty Images

Soccer in the time of coronavirus is a fickle thing. The Sounders are on an indefinite hiatus, the global soccer economy is in a full halt and we the teeming masses of the soccer enthused are left with the by-gone moments of yesteryear in a futile attempt to drive some spark of joy amidst a rampaging sea of self-isolation and misery.

Luckily, the K-League is back and all your prayers except for the one about “how do I watch the K-League in the USA” are answered. And that’s where the fantastic news about the restart of the Bundesliga on Saturday presents a lifeline to a time long since forgotten.

“But hey,” I hear you saying, “how can I possibly watch the only soccer available to my swollen-bloodshot-crying-eternally-screen-fixated-because-what-else-can-you-do-these-days eyes without some sort of tribal affiliation upon which to fixate my identity and self-worth?”

That’s where the official Sounder at Heart Bundesliga rooting guide comes into play! You can’t simply just pick a team based on color or who was on that one time you first stumbled across the league. That’s how you ended up supporting Tottenham Hotspur and we all know you should avoid making that mistake again. You need to self-reflect, identify your favorite things about the Sounders, internalize those facts, and select new colors you’re going to paint on your face every weekend.

Brothers are where it’s at — Bayer Leverkusen

If you’re like most people, you love the idea of watching Cristian Roldan and Alex Roldan (but mostly Cristian) tear up CenturyLink Field like the backyards of their past. But what’s better than watching brothers play together?

The correct answer is watching twin brothers play at Bayer Leverkusen where Lars and Sven Bender anchor one of the better backlines in the Bundesliga. Playing fast up-tempo soccer, with dynamic attackers like Karim Bellarabi and Kevin Volland, Bayer Leverkusen are an exciting club and you should root for them. The Roldan brothers says so.

I’m super down with Garth Lagerwey — Borussia Mönchengladbach

If watching Garth Lagerwey compile a tremendous amount of talent is your bag, then look no further than Max Eberl’s Borussia Moenchengladbach. The 46-year-old sporting director has developed one of the Bundesliga’s most interesting sides. Tactically flexible, overflowing with dynamic young talent, and led by up-and-coming coach Marco Rose, ‘Gladbach run with the big boys through astute planning, financial savvy, and competent leadership despite being from a small town of only 250,000-ish people.

If you like to see teams run the “right” way be rewarded on matchday, tune in and root for Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Also, Kasey Keller played there. I’m not sure why that should matter but maybe it does.

Paul Allen was the best Sounders owner — 1899 Hoffenheim

So, you love eccentric tech billionaires who love owning sports teams? Dietmar Hopp, the inventor of SAP, is the owner of 1899 Hoffenheim and you won’t find a more wretched hive of good football and disruption to the Bundeslig’s 50+1 model than Hoffenheim. (Actually, you will.) Anchored by the stalwart Sebastian Rudy in midfield, Hoffenehim sports an all-star cast of soccer players you’ve never heard of who play effective and attractive soccer.

If you’re into disruption, hipsterism, and finding diamonds of joy where no one else is looking, you should root for Hoffenheim.

I need to see the Sounders beat LAFC 3-1 every week — Bayern Munich

So you’re into watching talented teams give up early gut-wrenching goals before physically, emotionally, and spiritually dominating their opponents and punishing them by scorelines that feel at times both absurdly unfair and agonizingly too close for comfort?

Welcome to 29-time German champions, Bayern Munich.

I’m an OL Reign fan. What are the Sounders? — FC Augsburg

The super fun team just down the freeway, excuse me autobahn, from the current MLS Cup, excuse me Bundesliga, Champions? FC Augsburg is your ticket. You’ll already be perfectly well versed and ready to fight about regional differences most people find trite.

Born in 1974 is my favorite song — SC Paderborn

SC Paderborn weren’t born even remotely close to 1974 but it’s kind of right there in the name - Born. You also probably like Bruce Springsteen and that means plucky underdog feelings are your jam.

Go with relegation bound Paderborn. You’ll most likely only be committed through the end of quarantine and it will be a great ride.

The Sounders re-defined MLS. I need to see teams disrupting the status quo — RB Leipzig

You will feel the hate but you’re new and you’re here to show everyone how to build a better world.

You’re into redefining the genre and exposing the future. Maybe you’re not so much into the corporate sponsorship, vertical integration, and a whole host of other buzzwords that suck the soul to feed the bull, but you take the good with the bad. You get to watch a stacked team of talent attack tradition and strangle under a gegenpress that makes Jurgen Klopp green with envy and possession soccer that Pep Guardiola would probably still be unhappy with but sane people would consider excellent.

Emil Forsberg, Timo Werner, Christopher Nkunku, Dayot Upamecano; you get to watch exciting young talent execute exciting soccer at RB Leipzig.

MLS Cup 2016 was the best game I’ve ever seen! — VfL Wolfsburg

I’m not here to yuck anyone’s yum, but that game was dreadful to watch and if you’re into the football equivalent of watching paint dry every week, then VfL Wolfsburg is your bag!

They can’t score but they defend well with USMNT stalwart John Anthony Brooks and a punishing defensive midfield that features Joshua Guilavoigui and Maxi Arnold.

Look, I’m not a Sounders “fan.” I’m a Seattle sports fan. — Schalke 04

OK, fence sitter. So you like the NFL which is a terrible choice for any number of reason from CTE on down the line. You also like the Mariners who are a depressing pile of garbage masquerading as a baseball team and your favorite basketball team was moved to state with a population smaller than the University of Washington.

Congratulations! Because that means you’re adequately primed and ready for a lifetime of never winning the Big One, frustrating seasons, and small pointless moral victories despite having one of the best academies on the entire continent. Welcome to a legion of die hard fans living an endless life in the eternal purgatory of being just good enough to not be great enough.

Welcome to Schalke 04. Welcome to the suck.

Eschew your Sounders fandom and go with the au naturel version and find a team you think you might like.

FC Koln - If you’re an eternal pessimist and looking for that big town team that continually fails, look no further than FC Koln.

SC Freiburg - SC Freiburg is the less expensive version of Borussia Moenchangladbach. It’s the PBR to that can of Rainier sitting on your desk.

Hertha BSC - Look, Hertha BSC fired Jurgen Klinsmann at the end of last season. That means they are fun again!

Union Berlin - Berlin is a fantastic city and if you can’t quite stand the fact Hertha BSC hired Jurgen Klinsmann consider the delightful and rowdy Union Berlin a few miles down the road. It’s like being from Portland without the guilt of being a Timbers fan! (They also have Michael Gspurning as an assistant coach.)

Eintracht Frankfurt- Eintracht Frankfurt came and played a friendly with the Sounders and that made the Sounders some money. Maybe repay that favor?

Mainz 05- The moral support option.

Fortuna Dusseldorf - They can’t score and they can’t defend. Maybe start at the top and be less discriminating this time.

Borussia Dortmund - You could root for Dortmund.