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A hater’s guide to the MLS Cup Playoffs

With the Sounders not in the playoffs, we can enjoy hating on everyone but some definitely more than others.

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it finally happened. The Seattle Sounders aren’t in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since joining the league. Autumn without a rooting interest in the playoffs can be tough, but the Sounders missing the playoffs means we can enjoy the postseason in the best way possible: as a hater. I crunched the numbers, did the science, and came up with how hateable each team is on a scale.

Western Conference

Real Salt Lake

I don’t need to remind you what happened last year. But here it is anyway: RSL knocked Seattle out of the playoffs on penalties in a game that was so hilariously lopsided that RSL didn’t even attempt a shot until the penalty shootout. David Ochoa isn’t on the roster anymore, but the coward and fraud Pablo Mastroeni is still their manager. There’s also a decade of history with them. Seeing them succeed after being so incompetent — they went 1-3-2 in their final six — would be a tough pill to swallow. The only good thing they did was make sure Portland didn’t make the playoffs.

Hateability: High

Minnesota United

Hating on a Minnesota sports team feels cruel given how they invent soul-crushing ways to torture their own fans. Hating MNUFC is sort of easy though, solely because their head coach is so unlikeable. Adrian Heath is a bum and seeing him get beat is always fun.

Hateability: Medium

Nashville SC

A team that invokes zero emotion from anyone. I constantly need to be reminded they even exist, let alone have an MVP candidate playing for them. There’s nothing interesting about this team and their mascot is Soccer Moses. As a city and as a team, Nashville is in a constant identity crisis. Enjoy the Eastern Conference, again, you dorks.

Hateability: Whatever/Medium

LA Galaxy

I do not need to tell you to hate the Galaxy, the OG sugar daddies of MLS. They’ve been passed up by daddies with more sugar in recent years, but they still find themselves signing players like Riqui Puig and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. The definition of failing upwards. They can’t even say they play in Los Angeles because their stadium is in the parking lot of an IKEA.

Hateability: High

FC Dallas

The U.S. Soccer club. These guys get all the credit for producing world-class talent that leaves as early as possible to play elsewhere. One of three MLS originals that haven’t won an MLS Cup (the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls are the others). They reduced the capacity of their stadium that they can’t sell out anyways to put in the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. You have to take a toll road out to Frisco, Texas to even see them play.

Hateability: High

Austin FC

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case it just makes me feel weird. The city of Austin is trying to be the PNW in Texas, and it sucks. Austin wants to be Seattle so bad they even wear a knockoff green jersey. Josh Wolff is from the same mold of Caleb Porter but probably read too much GQ in the mid-2010s. Matthew McConaughey.

Hateability: Medium


Like everyone else in Los Angeles, the personality of this team comes down to wearing a hat. They built an interesting roster over the last few years based around scouting young South American talent only to blow it all up to sign Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. Bob Bradley may not be their coach anymore, but seeing this team fail will bring a happy tear to my eye. Born on third base but they like to pretend they hit a triple.

Hateability: Ultra-omega-high

Eastern Conference


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if an entire city was Disneyland and parking lots for conference centers? What if it also had the added spice and flavor of being in the worst part of Florida? Well, that’s Orlando. Their mascot is terrifying children and thinking about being in an outdoor stadium in Florida is making me sweaty. Or am I soaked because of torrential rain?

Hateability: Medium

Inter Miami FC

Another Florida team? Ugh. Well, at least this one has a lot of positive connections with Seattle, I guess. Chris Henderson, DeAndre Yedlin, and Damion Lowe all deserve happiness and health in life. It’s just too bad they’re all employed by David Beckham’s emporium of failure. This team cheated in 2020 and they were so bad at it. Phil Neville is deeply unlikeable and only has a job because he’s pals with the owner. Oh, we didn’t even get to Jorge Más, who seems pretty bad but at least badmouths the league in amusing ways.

Hateability: Surprisingly High

FC Cincinnati

I cannot believe they let two teams exist in Ohio. Their whole thing is bad chili. A team that “won” the wooden spoon three years in a row finally broke their playoff draught — but just barely — and proceeded to embody this meme. I can’t believe I’ve written this much about a team in Ohio. Bleh.

Hateability: Ohio is awful.

New York Red Bulls

The Sounders’ long playoff streak came to an end but won’t even be the longest in MLS history thanks to these assholes. Their manager seemingly hates everyone and everything, including at times his own team. The owners of this club have moved on to bigger and better European things, leaving the management to feast on scraps. On the field, they play interesting stuff, but they’re also in New Jersey.

Hateability: Low/Medium

New York City FC

MLS moved heaven and earth to get a second team in New York. They founded this team NINE years ago and they still don’t even have plans for their own stadium. The reigning MLS Cup Champions can’t even host a playoff game in their “home” stadium because the Yankees are more important. I guess they’re lucky the Mets are the Mets, eh? A team so unlikeable they make a quote from Phil Neville seem relatable. Don’t even get me started on their owners. Baseball Stadium FC.

Hateability: A-notch-below-LAFC-high

CF Montréal

Canada’s lone representative in this year’s edition of the MLS Cup Playoffs. I really don’t have anything bad to say about Montréal, I guess. They keep changing their logo, but at least they're responsive? It’s a really cool city and they march to the beat of their own drum. The bell thing is sorta weird, but what can you do?

Hateability: Low

Philadelphia Union

And finally, we get to the only likeable team in the playoffs this year. The Union are really cool and good. They ended up tied on points with LAFC for the Supporters’ Shield — only to lose on a tiebreaker despite a MUCH better goal-difference — on a fraction of the budget. The vibes around this team are really good and they have a mix of foreign stars mixed with homegrown talent. Jim Curtin is somehow underappreciated as far as American managers go. Philly is an incredible place with great sports fans. Start greasing up the light poles now, this team can and should go all the way.

Hateability: Actually likable???????????????????

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