The MLS Conference Championships are set and since Orlando was eliminated only one really, really obnoxious team remains. This is great news, there’s a 25% chance that the annoying team won’t win the MLS Cup Presented by Delta this year and so we can enjoy the final three games of the season.
It’s a pretty solid field really, here’s how the teams line up.
Minnesota United: Give the Loons credit. After the first two years of “trusting the process,” which mainly involved having 70 goals a year scored on them, the team built a good roster, got healthy, and then got hot at the right time this year. Last night they pulled off the masterful feat of hanging on for dear life for 15 minutes against the best team remaining in the playoffs and then ruthlessly scored a great goal, did some kind of magic to set up the second when Kevin Molino both stayed onside and created a masterful if not slightly lucky finish, and then kicked the ball to a tall person on a corner. They’re fun, plucky, and have a Canadian named Dayne St. Clare in goal. The Loons have just about 15 minutes to rest and get ready for the Seattle Sounders so they’re probably also doomed.
Seattle Sounders: Along with Atlanta, the Sounders are one of three teams to have won the last four MLS championships. They’re in good company. The Sounders are completely unlovable, all they do is get to the playoffs and have the Nico Lodiero be the best no. 6, no. 8, and no. 10 on the field all at once, let Raul Ruidiaz finish impossible looking goals, and have Jordan Morris run past people like he’s the American Neymar. Nobody likes this, but you have to enjoy the way they joylessly eliminate their opponents just for being in their way like they’re some sort of Anton Chigurh of MLS.
Columbus Crew: The Crew, they’re fun right? A team that’s owned by the guy that owns the Cleveland Browns playing well despite having Caleb Porter manage the team. That’s nice. The Crew play exciting soccer, they have Gyasi Zardes who is playing the best soccer of his career and has really grown into his role as a no. 9 despite still scoring some amazing accidental comedy goals this year. Plus, there’s Darlington Nagbe who gets to play with Porter like he’s back with the Zips. Gotta love the Zips, where would US Soccer be without the Zips? 20 of their players had Covid so maybe they’ll get through to the final, maybe. Plus, it’d be neat for the Crew to win since the league let the owner try to run the team into the ground so he could move it to Austin before tricking the league into letting him have a team in Austin.
New England Revolution: The Revs are back in the Eastern Conference Final which is huge for Major League Lacrosse. More than any team, the Revs are dependent on two players Carles Gil and Matt Turner. In another life Turner is probably a defensive point guard trying to get minutes playing in Turkey or somewhere, but right now he’s the best American goalkeeper who isn’t starting for the national team because Gregg Berhalter likes him. This isn’t fun, he’s a goalkeeper they’re not fun unless they run out of net with the ball at their feet and cause hilarious chaos for 12 seconds during an otherwise dull game. Then there’s Gil, he’s fun and exciting and can create and score goals and is making Bruce Arena look like he knows what he’s doing. Gil is finally healthy and the Revs are trying to ride him to the first championship in team history. If that does happen it’ll be one more chapter in the storied history of Bruce Arena, the best coach of any sport to ever coach a sport. He deserves redemption, right? RIGHT?
So, we essentially have one team that should be likable vs. a joyless murderer and a sorta nice story I guess vs. Bruce Arena. Who ya got?