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A Hater’s Guide to MLS Cup

He threatened us if we didn’t let him run one more of these dumb things.

MLS: MLS CUP-Toronto FC Champions Parade Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports




*As always minimal effort has been put into this. There has been little research, next to zero editing and there’s a legitimate chance that you won’t find any of this entertaining in any way. If you take any of this seriously you deserve to be made fun of through vicious quote tweeting. As a commenter once eloquently stated even after reading a disclaimer about how dumb and irrevocably pointless this article would be…

“This is a waste of time. Nothing here folks.”

**do not @ me


That’s right. No holds barred. We are going IN on the Northwest’s second-most relevant city. We are going IN on their secret trash soccer team that barely made the playoffs and then drunkenly (from the PBR) stumbled into MLS Cup by bravely...forgetting the rules in the semifinal against Seattle, and accidentally scoring one of the greatest goals in MLS history to push them past SKC. (YYY) We are going IN on a fan base that regularly shows up to support their team across the country and displays genuine passion without crossing the line into Green Street Hooligan’s cosplay and regularly makes a difference in their community and wait hold up what the hell.


Sorry. It’s’s been a while. Um. Anyway. Let’s talk about their DUMB town that has single-handedly ruined hipsterdom. There was a time when hipster meant cool and edgy before Portland human-centipeded it’s culture to the point where you have to put so much effort into not being judged by the cool kids that, instead of making the kind of meaningful art you moved to Portland to make in the first place, you spend your day staring into the produce section at Whole Foods wondering what Gemma from your sub-zero temperature yoga/macramé class will think if you bring a persimmon for lunch instead of a dragon fruit. It’s the city version of a love child made from the Pinterest board of a high schooler whose uncle dragged them to a Phish concert once and the screenplay of a 25-year-old community college film student who believes in two things: Love and their ability to write the next great Wes Anderson movie. All of this has led to a city with a diverse and vibrant arts community, a deep commitment to combating climate change, a fantastic culinary scene, a wait it happened again what’s wrong with me.

Alright, maybe the city is “fine” or whatever but...umm...IT RAINS A LOT AND “THE DECEMBERISTS” ARE HOT TRASH.

There. That’ll do it. We can still save this, y’all. WE CAN STILL SAVE THIS.

I haven’t even started on the soccer team.with what’s probably the second best fan base in the league, a stunning kit, a plethora of fun and meaningful traditions that somehow make you feel bad about making fun of their big, dumb log and their big, dumb lumberjack, a stadium filled with history, a well run organization with a CEO who genuinely cares and ok screw it we might need to make fun of something else.

Portland’s no Atlanta but come on it’s not like we’re talking about Harrison or Orlando here. Remember the time they forgot the rules? Remember Wes Anderson? That was funny! We feel like we’ve more than filled our quota here, thanks.

Let’s move on to……..

**scanning room**

**stops at Orlando but feels bad and moves on**

**stares at Ashley Cole but feels bad and moves on**

**Stares at Red Bulls but too busy laughing to stare too long**

**back to Ashley Cole**

**still Ashley Cole**

OH. I know. Since this is the first MLS Cup to actually matter, let’s make fun of some of the ones that didn’t!

You might be saying “We already knew where this was going, the title of the article gave it away, why are you acting like this is a reveal?” To which I might say, “Stop trying to edit me, Rob and Joe, I have no problem laying out all my grievances to Deadspin.”

1996 - “Definitely the first one”

Played in Foxborough, Massachusetts at a place that was sure to become a cathedral of North American soccer, Foxboro Stadium (Why? Are? They? Spelled? Differently?), 34,643 screaming fans filled the stadium to near capacity in the hopes that Drew Bledsoe would accidentally show up. Fittingly, the match was played in the middle of an October hurricane so that everyone could pretend the quality of soccer was due to playing in a downpour instead of, you know, the actual quality of the soccer.

You may be wondering, did everyone look as poorly dressed as the quality of soccer demanded? My god, yes.

Anyway, LA and D.C. splashed around for 90 minutes and then it (amazingly) went to sudden death. Who won? No one knows. Probably still playing to be honest, has anyone checked on them lately?

1997 - “Oh god, oh god, the rain never ends, why hast thou forsaken me?”

You don’t care who played but trust me (and wikipedia) when I say MLS Cup was once again played in a torrential downpour. Fortunately for MLS, casual fans had potentially turned into two MLS Cup’s and left without being able to convict the soccer of being horrific beyond a reasonable doubt due to the fact that “I dunno they seem bad, but it might just be the rain. Let’s give Raúl Díaz Arce one more shot.”

You may be wondering, “Shot in the dark but was there a dude wearing a backwards hat in this game?”


1998 - “We’re really going to do this for another year, huh?”

The 1998 MLS Cup did nothing but give Bob Bradley a chance to claim a team featuring someone named “Ante Razov’ and “Jerzy Podbrozny” would beat Atlanta United 19 years later. Expansion side Chicago Fire won and other that nothing really of interest happened and OHMYGOD IS THAT CHRIS ARMAS AND JESSE MARSCH???

1999 - “The one where Christina Aguilera performed a halftime show.”

Christina Aguilera performed a halftime show.

The stage was hilariously tiny and featured ads for Old Navy and Aleve.

2002 - “People actually showed up!”

The largest MLS Cup to date as 61,316 people showed up. There. Now you know the answer to the question “Who’s record is Atlanta breaking, Saturday?” Yay?

This is the game your Dad watched in 2002 and is the frame of reference for every “I can’t believe you’re watching soccer” speech he’s ever giving you. It took 113 minutes just for someone to score. Don’t blame me, blame Sigi Schmid and Stevie Nicol.

(side note: We’re skipping some years now. That’s because I fell asleep watching the “highlights.”)

2007 - “Some soccer happened we guess, but Jimmy Eat World definitely played the half time show.”

Houston became the first team to win back to back MLS Cups. Cool. Neat. Whatever.

So look, the halftime show’s have definitely become the most interesting part of this. We’ll just get the best ones out of the way.

Y’all, Jimmy Eat World didn’t even play “The Middle.” They played something called “Big Casino” leading to almost definitely like twenty “SOCCER IN AMERICA WON’T HAVE MADE IT UNTIL JIMMY EAT WORLD PLAY’S THE DAMN HITS” takes.

Michelle Branch and Switchfoot also did one of these things.

Apparently, there was one time where they just had people play Guitar Hero to Michael Jackson songs (no, seriously.)

In 2005 something called “The Click Five” played half time. It’s whatever. But it’s truly made amazing by this truly spirited blurb wrote about the show.


If T.I. surprises everyone with a halftime show Saturday but plays “Wit Me” or something we’ll know that we still have a long way to go before soccer makes it in this country.

2008 - “GBS stands for Good Ball Specialist”

Guillermo Barros Schelotto assisted on all three goals and won Man of the Match in a Columbus Crew victory. I look forward to it being a major talking point at MLS Cup next year...for........reasons.

Oh, also, Red Bulls choked.

2010 - “I don’t know, just put it wherever”

So the thing about MLS is that if there’s a way to make poor decisions they’re going to find a new way to make poor decisions that wasn’t even on the table. Up until 2010, the powers that be decided to play the game at a predetermined neutral site because............................................................................................................................................................................................the Super Bowl is a thing that exists? Or something?

This somehow culminated in the league deciding that Toronto in November seemed like the perfect spot for a game played outdoors between two teams that were definitely not Toronto.

It was cold. They do not play neutral site MLS Cups now.

2015 - “And here’s the kickoff, time to see if Columbus Crew can grab glory in front of their home fa—oh hey Portland scored.

Well that was weird, alright time to really start the ga—oh wow they scored again.”


Look, as long as Atlanta isn’t completely out of the game by minute seven on Saturday, they’ll be doing great, y’all.

2016 - “It’s cold again.”

This time MLS Cup ended up in Toronto again, accidentally. This time also proved that MLS Cup is some bull. You want to decide a champion? Maybe a one off game where team with no shots can still win is a bad idea.

Look, as long as Atlanta gets a shot on target by minute 120 on Saturday, they’ll be doing great, y’all.

2018 - “A Hater’s Guide to MLS Cup”

The clock ticked upward. The sound of a whistle hurtling closer toward existence. Its existence signaling the end of Atlanta’s chance to win a trophy.

The ball rolled forward and fell at the player’s feet. The keeper had come off his line. The defense all yards away. The net wide open.

All the player needed to do was shoot. A red and black striped crowd screamed for him to shoot.

His teammates begged him to shoot. There was only one option. The swarm of bodies and colors and sound swirled as he slammed his foot into the ground. His leg swung toward the ball. This is what he needed to do. He needed to shoot. He looked goalward. Behind the goal stood.....floated a figure. It was...It was...No. Not now. He needed to shoot. His toe met the ball. A loud crack thundered through existence. Every noise before it was obsolete. The world went black.

And there was silence.

And it stayed silent.

And the silence screamed.

And a light appeared.

It shown straight down. Illuminating...well we’re too far away. Let’s move closer.

We took a step forward. And a second. We stopped. Under the light was a desk. A computer perched on top of it. Behind the computer sat a person. Not just any kind of person. A blogger. The least of humanity. But they aren’t blogging. They aren’t typing. They aren’t making content.

We move around the computer. We’re now face to face. We’re now aware of the fact that there is a body there, but no soul. Had there ever been? The blogger slowly turned his head. A word escaped. Perhaps the first human interaction they’d had in years.


The body slumped. It had been shot. The body disappeared.

You watch as a new figure walked over to take its place.

It wore...crocs. A blanket. You feel cold. Yet, the figure emanates warmth.

You notice the computer has been replaced by a typewriter. You move closer. With each step, the figure presses a key.

Thud. Clack. Thud. Clack. Thud. Clack.

You’re directly behind him. On the paper, two sentences bursting through the white space.

“This was a waste of time. Nothing here folks.”

The man looked up from the typewriter. The grin crescendoed across his face until a piano key smile became fully exposed. He stared. Smiling. Directly at you. He sees you. He knows you’re reading. He knows. He’s always known. What? Did you think he didn’t? You couldn’t tell? You didn’t know what this was all leading to? What this has always been leading to. He wants you to realize what you’ve always known. What’s been apparent since this all began. He’s looking you dead in the eye. And you can’t look away. How can you? How can you look away from what’s everywhere? And only. He is only. He’s all you know. And then, everything stopped.

And nothing existed.

Nothing but a voice. Lingering. A simple message rocketing through an unceasing darkness.

We are Ashley Cole.”