2016 Presidential Candidates as MLS Teams / by Brit Byrd

By Official White House Photo by Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Official White House Photo by Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The 2016 Presidential campaign has been a mess. A big fat waste.  So has the 21st season of Major League Soccer.  We think that there's room for comparison, so we made a 100% scientifically determined, 100% accurate list of Presidential candidates as MLS teams.  In other words, we know lists, we have the best lists, guess what?  This list just got 5 bullet points longer.

[Editor's note: This list was written mostly at the time of the Wisconsin primary, and for narrative purposes weaves in and out of considering this year’s results, last year’s results, and even the entire history of certain clubs in making these judgments. We welcome your angry and disappointed tweets.]


Jeb Bush - Seattle Sounders

By Michael Vadon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42198021

By Michael Vadon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42198021

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that Jeb Bush was supposed to be a force to be reckoned with.  Much like it had us believing that the Seattle Sounders would start their season off strong this year.  Both had loads of money, but it's proven ineffective thus far. Both are big fans of call and response.


Jim Gilmore - Chicago Fire

By Michael Vadon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46751356ns

By Michael Vadon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46751356ns

So lackluster that even their failures are overshadowed by the failures of others. They won something once, and it wasn’t insignificant! But that seems like a long time ago. Now people mostly just feel sorry for you, when they remember you at all.  

Scott Walker - Colorado Rapids

By Michael Vadon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41706317

By Michael Vadon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41706317

The Rapids, like Scott Walker, seemed to have somehow lost the season before the damn thing even began. Questionable internal leadership and upper level strategy seemed to doom both organizations -- a far cry from the victories of 2010, which in hindsight seem unbelievable. Yet, despite all the mockery, the embers of hope seem to be smoldering for both Walker and the Rapids. No, Walker isn’t going to become President, but he did flex a surprising bit of clout in the Wisconsin primary, and may well have an influential career left for him somewhere. The Rapids, meanwhile, pulled off a couple of personnel moves that don’t look bad at all really -- and now you find yourself commenting things online like, “actually, I never believed the Rapids hate in the first place.” 


John Kasich - Columbus Crew

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - John Kasich, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47475973

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - John Kasich, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47475973

A no-frills team, with purportedly solid fundamentals and no glaring weak spots (according to the pundits). Less extreme in style. From nondescript parts of both the country and your imagination. “I’m sure Columbus is an alright place,” you imagine. “It can’t be the worst, right? I would’ve heard about it way earlier if it were the worst.” You never get to visiting Columbus, and you never quite get to researching John Kasich. Years from now, you remember them both as “pretty alright, I guess.”

But back to brass tacks -- a throwback to simpler time, when success in MLS 1.0 and the GOP primary seemed predictable, albeit unsatisfactory. Like RBNY, they are widely respected by the establishment, but even though they seemed to have lagged behind the whole time, RBNY’s post-season ended earlier. 

Marco Rubio - New York Red Bulls

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Marco Rubio, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46825578

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Marco Rubio, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46825578

Similar to Columbus, RBNY has cautious establishment approval, but not much to show for it yet. Unlike Columbus, RBNY is known, for some reason, to have some sort of “flair” to their appeal. But when put on a larger national stage, they seem predictable and vulnerable. Circa 2010, they were hyped as a standard bearer of a new incoming wave. But in reality, they’re as much of a product of the old establishment as there is -- albeit more extreme in some of their methods. With the arrival of some louder and easier to hate peers, they’ve become slightly less reviled (and sometimes even liked!). But ultimately in 2016 they find themselves on the outside looking in, as the establishment warms itself to its shiny new toys. 

Now admittedly, this comparison would work best if, instead of retiring from public life, Rubio were buckling down and resolving to improve his previously nonexistent grassroots organization. But maybe Team Rubio knows something we don’t? Is his withdrawal an omen of changes at the top of RBNY? (No, almost certainly not.)

Hillary Clinton - LA Galaxy

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Hillary Clinton, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47942582

By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Hillary Clinton, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47942582

Both Hillary Clinton and the LA Galaxy ooze inevitability and success. They shuffle around personnel and positions, but it can be easy not to notice as the continued winning results feel business-as-usual. They always have their detractors and haters, yet in a way excessively hating on them also feels a bit passe. It certainly doesn’t stop many though, as the latest DP-rule-change/manufactured Benghazi “scandal” will put people into a froth.


Bill Clinton - DC United

By US Department of Labor - http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdol/8450163113/sizes/o/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24971217

By US Department of Labor - http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdol/8450163113/sizes/o/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24971217

Good ole bill and DC United were killing in the 90s, and they still have the residual respect to show for it. But even though they’ve stuck around, they haven’t really been competing for quite some time now. Around 2012/2013 they had a resurgent moment in the sun that reminded us of the glory days; for DCU, their unlikely US Open Cup run, and for Bill, his raucous keynote address at the 2012 DNC Convention. But now they’ve receded from the spotlight and we mostly seen them when acting on behalf of others: for Bill, his support of his wife’s Presidential campaign, and for DC, gifting the Red Bulls an easy first round match-up in the playoffs.

Bernie Sanders - New England Revolution

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46471539

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46471539

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is from Vermont which is in New England, and he wants to lead a Revolution.  This may not be the Bob Kraft-owned Revolution who play on artificial turf at Gillette stadium, but both NE Revolution and Bernie Sanders are likely to get depressingly close to their goals without reaching it all together.

Donald Trump - NYCFC

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47943348

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47943348

Ok listen, smurfs. We don’t take this lightly. Being compared to Trump is pretty severe, we know. We’d really prefer to compare no one to Trump, but alas, the whole exercise would feel a little empty if we left him out. So we have to give it to someone. And, well all this being said, we don’t really like you, you know that, we both know that. But many of you, we assume, are good people. 

The branding has been years in the making. To a degree, you understand the appeal -- the money, the grandiose environs (that are actually owned by someone else), and the growing lineup of high profile, albeit late arriving, endorsements. You can’t deny that the crowds are impressive. Although unsettling and often containing unsavory elements, they’ve brought a lot of eyes and voices to the arena that weren’t necessarily there before, at least not in this way. As often as you wish you’d never heard from them at all, you know you can’t ignore them. At times you’re sympathetic to the argument that it’s necessary, perhaps even good for the league country, to publicly exorcise these demons and have a larger populace tuned in and participating week in and week out. And hey look at all this swag! It’s everywhere. It’s not a bad design, you know.

But then you snap out of it. Did it have to happen quite like this? A manufactured claim to authenticity, wearing the robes of (civic) nativism, and funded by the very sources of modern excess many of its adherents claim to abhor? Blind to the irony that many of those in attendance once called somewhere else home? Do we really need the ties to unethical labor practices and misogyny? The belief that, despite never having won anything in their life, they feel entitled to all the glory of a hard-working long-suffering base? The arrogance towards others, and insistence that they, single-handedly, will somehow both elevate the league country to a new level and return it to a false image of an imagined glorious past?

Look, we’ll be the first to tell you the corporatization of our team league country is a problem -- but there are better alternatives than this. 

Ted Cruz - the Nazi Prison Guard Team from Escape to Victory

By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We struggled mightily with this one. Ted Cruz’s hallmark is his ability to be hated by everyone, yet somehow still succeed. The only suitable comparison would be a team that isn’t just reviled by the Metro faithful (DC United), but by all teams. The LA Galaxy and NYCFC were the closest we could think of, but ultimately not as snug of a fit. Seattle registers closer to obnoxious than reviled. The Red Bulls themselves were once perhaps so widely hated, but the arrival of NYCFC seems to have diverted the generic NY sports hatred of many, and the shift toward a team-first and academy-building strategy seems to have even earned respect in some corners.

We’ve paired him with other ideological fanatics with a penchant for strong organization and a questionable persecution complex. Is this comparison haphazard and kind of a cop-out? Yes. Does it succumb to Godwin’s law? You betcha. Are there other candidates that have been more often compared with men in black? Sure. 

But, Ted Cruz literally breaks our scale of hate-ability.

 

Think we're misguided, wrong, or hacks? We welcome your animus in the comment section.