In MLS, 56% of teams made the playoffs this year, meaning your team had a pretty good chance to make at least the 4 v. 5 game of the playoffs (except you, Toronto fans, sorry). Of course, at the end of the season, 44% of teams didn’t. Some just fell short, like Montreal and FC Dallas. Some were a little farther away. But the fact remains that if you are a soccer fan and your team didn’t make the playoffs, even these tantalizing match-ups can be at times hard to watch as you wonder what if.
Except that the playoffs give fans a chance for a little bit of schadenfreude. Even the most kindhearted of fans can admit that seeing a certain team lose or drop out of the playoffs gives them a good feeling and a rooting interest in the playoffs. Living in the DC area, I know the past five years DC United fans rooted hard against the Red Bulls every year to drop out and not break their trophy-less streak.
Teams outside the top 10 have rivals they’d love to see fail; New England fans have plenty of teams to root against in the first round. MLS and soccer fans in general may also root against the Galaxy and Red Bulls as the two most high-profile MLS teams with the biggest stars. Or some fans may root against teams because of players; Steven Lenhart certainly has his detractors and the sight of him raising the Cup may rankle some people.
But there are some positive storylines as well. Maybe you want to see New York FINALLY win a trophy, or see a final of MLS superscorer Chris Wondolowski versus the stout Kansas City defense. Or maybe you want Brian Ching, if he is actually retiring, to hoist the Cup one more time.
Let’s hear from those whose teams aren’t in the playoffs: who are you rooting for or against, and what is your reasoning?