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Hammer Fans Guide to MLS: Western Conference

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Looking to root for a MLS team? We have a club for you!

2016 MLS Cup - Seattle Sounders v Toronto FC Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Hammers Fan Guide to MLS: A not so serious look at the upcoming MLS season

Hi there Hammer fans! As at least a few dozen Americans know, the MLS season is starting in a couple weeks on March 3rd. Featuring two more expansion teams, the league now has 22 teams competing for the MLS Cup, the championship at the end of the season. Many American West Ham fans have local MLS teams that they root for, but many perhaps do not. Or perhaps you’re an English Hammer fan looking for another club to break your heart and take your money. If you have ever been interested in the MLS but unsure which team to follow, then we have a guide for you!

Western Conference

Colorado Rapids

Pros: Colorado has legal weed.

Denver is a growing city with lots of interesting neighborhoods in a revitalized down... oh, wait, everyone stopped reading after the weed thing.

Cons: If you and a friend start rooting for the Rapids, you’ll double their fanbase.

Their stadium is out in a place called “Commerce City” which is so far from downtown and interesting things to do that it might as well be in Wyoming.

FC Dallas

Pros: What a time to be a Dallas fan! After selling their most popular player in a long time (more on that below), Dallas has quietly put together a squad that could be a real contender. We hear Jerry Jones is salivating at the chance to ruin the club.

FC Dallas v Toronto FC
Castillo in action for Dallas
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Cons: Probably the club Hammer fans can sympathize with the most. The saga surrounding forward Fabian Castillo and his desire to exit the club was penned by the same author that brought us the Dimitri Payet novel. So if you’re into seemingly endless drama between club and player... this could be the place for you!

Houston Dynamo

Pros: Houston has won two MLS Cups and lost in the finals twice. Has been a regular playoff participant ever since their move to Houston in 2006.

Oscar De La Hoya is a part owner. How cool is that?

Cons: Team was moved from San Jose to Houston to start the 2006 season after a successful run as the Quakes, and the team was moved because the owner didn’t get a stadium deal in San Jose, not because of attendance issues.

They haven’t won anything in almost a decade, with their only two championships coming in 2006 and 2007, right after they moved to Houston. And given their lack of success in the past couple years, it might be another ten years before they win anything.

LA Galaxy

Pros: Most successful MLS franchise with 5 MLS Cups and has appeared in nine finals. Ex-West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Celtic, Leeds United, Liverpool, Coventry, Wolverhampton, and Inter Milan player Robbie Keane played a number of years here, scoring 83 goals in 125 appearances.

The team isn’t afraid to spend money to be the best. Signed David Beckham and created the “MLS 2.0”, in which teams could exceed the draconian salary cap by having “Designated Players” only count a certain amount against the cap rather than the whole salary, known as the “Beckham rule”. Revolutionized and modernized the game in the US by allowing the MLS to compete with other leagues for good players.

Cons: Ultimate bandwagon team in MLS. Think of every American that roots for Manchester United or Manchester City despite never having been to the UK, much less to Manchester. Do you want to be one of those fans? Thousands of Beckham shirts were sold all over the US to people who had never heard of MLS and couldn’t name a single American footballer.

Ashley Cole collects paychecks from them to do something that resembles playing football.

Minnesota United

Pros: They’re an expansion team, get in on the ground floor. No bandwagon jumping here!

MLS: Minnesota United FC-Press Conference
The Commish of MLS with the Minnesota United logo.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Great logo, good fans, and a brand new stadium. The Twin Cities have had various lower-league teams for a number of years with varying levels of support, but the excitement for MLS soccer is pretty big.

Cons: Minnesota is really cold. Like Sibera cold. There is a good chance that going to game sometime between October to April would require you to clean snow off your seat before sitting down.

Rooting for Minnesota sports teams is torture. It’s faster and easier to just pound your hand with a hammer repeatedly instead of spending time, money, energy and love rooting for team from the North Star state. The NFL team, the Vikings have lost four Super Bowls, the basketball team, the Timberwolves, is terrible and once got penalized for giving extra money to a terrible, overpaid player. Hockey is a birthright to the people of Minnesota, but their NHL team moved to Dallas and won a championship. They have a new one, the Wild, but they haven't been able to win more than a few playoff rounds in the 16 years they’ve been around. The baseball team, the Twins, won a World Series in 1991, but has been mediocre to bad the rest of the time.

Portland Timbers

FC Dallas v Portland Timbers - Western Conference Finals - Leg 1 Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Pros: Best rivalry in MLS is between Portland and Seattle. Closet thing to English fans in terms of passion and love of the game.

Portland is one of the homes of American soccer, with a legitimate claim to “Soccer City USA”. Their women’s team, the Thorns, have an average attendance that would make a number of MLS teams blush, as well as most of the teams in the third level and below in the English League pyramid.

Cons: Portland is hipster central. Half of the fan base has their rent paid by their parents, and you might see a man-bun or two in the crowd.

Everything in the concession stand has ethically sourced, small-batch, craft artisanal kale it in, even the beer.

Real Salt Lake

Pros: Hardworking team that is often in the running for an MLS Cup every season. They won it all in 2009 and were runners up in 2013. They were also runners up in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2011.

Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

Kyle Beckerman has the best dreads in MLS.

Cons: Yes, they’re named “Real” like Real Madrid. Because they are a royal Spanish club, obviously. MLS has this annoying habit of copying European names and slapping them onto American expansion clubs or rebranding existing franchises and using “European” names without understanding or caring about the history behind them. So basically USA! USA! USA! in a nutshell.

San Jose Earthquakes

Colorado Rapids v San Jose Earthquakes Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Pros: A “phoenix” club that rose from the ashes of the original Quakes which moved to Houston after the 2005 season. That team had won two championships in three years, winning the MLS Cup in 2001 and 2003. Plus, they always seem to draw well, no matter how the team has done. San Jose really supports the Quakes, and it’s always better to follow a team that has the love from the fans.

Cons: Other than a nice showing in 2012, which they had the best record in the league, and a surprise semi-finals run in 2010, the team has otherwise been lousy. They’ve failed to qualify for the playoffs seven out of the nine seasons they’ve been back in San Jose and most of that time more than half of the teams have made the playoffs.

Seattle Sounders

Pros: There’s nothing better than a great fan base. Earlier this season when West Ham lost 4-1 to Manchester United, I was still smiling due to the Irons faithful chanting “You’re just a shit Andy Carroll” at Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Sounders are very similar to West Ham in that sense. No matter how the season is going, Sounder supporters are faithful through and through. Even though they won MLS Cup last year, there was a point where they were second to last in the Western Conference, and they still led the MLS in attendance. Although that’s probably because their stadium is bigger than everyone else’s...

Cons: I’m Sounders till I die, but there’s no denying it. Sounders fans are some of the most pretentious in MLS. There’s something very Spurs about Sounders fans, in that before last year they never won a title, but they always had this swagger about them as if they had.

Also, this.

And this.

Hard to support that...

Sporting Kansas City:

Pros: Really great fans. Opened a new stadium in 2011 and rebranded from the fairly pedestrian Kansas City Wizards (or Wiz as the team was first known) to great fanfare and fantastic support, averaging close to 19,000 fans in a 20,000 stadium since their move. They’ve been a successful team on the pitch as well, having won two MLS cups, one in 2000 and one in 2013, and has won three US Open Cups as well, coming in 2004, 2012, and 2015.

Cons: While not the worst example of copying of European names (yes, I’m looking at you Real Salt Lake) but it’s still kind of silly. Also, before moving to their new stadium, they had trouble drawing good crowds. Of course, they were using a baseball park so that might have had something to do with it.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Pros: Vancouver is a great city. Natural beauty with the mountains by the sea and located in a temperate rainforest. It’s not as cold as the interior of Canada in the winter and is one of the most diverse cities in North America, if not the world.

Sir Bobby Robson started his managing career with the Whitecaps of the NASL, and the team has fantastic crowd support. They also have great rivalries with Seattle and Portland.

Cons: Fans might riot if they lose the in the MLS Cup. No really, they have a history of doing that up here.

Eastern Conference Guide coming next Monday the 27th!