MLS Cup Playoffs: The how-to-root guide for neutrals/eliminated fans


So, chances are, your favorite Major League Soccer team has already been knocked out of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs — that’s if they even qualified in the first place. Don’t feel bad, though, you’re far from alone — your team is just like a vast majority (80 percent) of the league as a whole.

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I know, that probably does nothing to make you feel even the slightest bit better, especially if you’re a fan of the Seattle Sounders or Montreal Impact — brutal way to go out on Sunday, guys. But you’re still watching the rest of the playoffs. You know you are.

What’s the fun in not having a team to root for, even if only halfheartedly, though? In truth, there’s a lot to like — and very little to dislike — about this year’s last four standing.  Still not sure which of the remaining four teams best suits your personal soccer ideology, likable characters and/or need for U.S. national stars of the present/future? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…

New York Red Bulls

What’s to like: They’re built on the smallest on-budget payroll in the league, yet they finished top of the league in the regular season; they got rid of D.C. United for the rest of us – thanks, Red Bulls; Dax McCarty is the hardest-working man in MLS, yet so often he goes unnoticed; they’ve never won an MLS Cup
What’s not to like: They’re “the New York team” (though they play in New Jersey), which on its own is enough to put off half the nation.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – D.C. United or New York City FC fans; Can – Those hoping Matt Miazga is the savior of the USMNT
Root-a-bility ranking: 4th-of-4

[ LEG 2: FCD 2-1 (4-2 PKs) SEA | CLB 3-1(aet) MTL | VAN 0-2 POR | NY 1-0 DC ]

Portland Timbers

What’s to like: Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Lucas Melano, Rodney Wallace and Fanendo Adi is an extremely enjoyable attacking unit to watch, when set out properly; the Providence Park atmosphere (Timbers Army); they’ve never won an MLS Cup
What’s not to like: Does Caleb Porter rub anyone else the wrong way? Perhaps I hold a slight grudge over his refusal to accept that the Timbers could have been a dominant counter-attacking side for two full seasons, until October of this year.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – Still-hurting Sporting Kansas City or Vancouver Whitecaps fans; Seattle Sounders fans; Can – Those hoping Nagbe is the savior of the USMNT; pretty much anyone else
Root-a-bility ranking: 3rd-of-4

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Columbus Crew SC

What’s to like: Lightning-quick, counter-attacking soccer that completely overwhelms opponents – they know no other way to play, for better or for worse; Kei Kamara‘s breakout season (22 goals) at age 30; Wil Trapp, Wil Trapp and Wil Trapp; their secondary kits (black checkered) are the best in the league, hands down
What’s not to like: If Plan A isn’t working, there is no Plan B, which can make them extremely frustrating to watch against a bunkered midfield and defense.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – Still-hurting Montreal Impact fans; Chicago Fire and Toronto FC fans; Can – Literally everyone else
Root-a-bility ranking: 2nd-of-4

[ MORE: NYCFC names Patrick Vieira club’s new head coach ]

FC Dallas

What’s to like: The youngest core unit in MLS, by some way (14 players appeared in 20 or more regular-season games — average age: 25.4 years old); they’re proof that academies are the way forward in MLS – all hail Oscar Pareja; Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo combined to create arguably the best one-two punch in MLS; they’ve never won an MLS Cup
What’s not to like: Blas Perez’s antics could singlehandedly make you hate any team in the world, unless you the type that roots for the villain.
Who can/can’t root for them: Can’t – Still-hurting Seattle Sounders fans; Houston Dynamo fans; Can – Those who enjoy the constructing of a team as much as the playing of actual games
Root-a-bility ranking: 1st-of-4

Arsenal uses thrilling comeback to win Europa League group

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Nothing Arsenal-related is allowed to be easy, it seems.

The Gunners used a goal and an assist from Bukayo Saka to come back from a two-goal deficit and draw Standard Liege 2-2 in Belgium on Thursday, winning its Europa League group when Vitoria came back to beat Eintracht Frankfurt on a wild afternoon of soccer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal trailed on second half goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah, but rallied behind Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette to score a second-straight win for interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.

Saka sent in a laser cross in the 78th minute and Lacazette did quite well to power it under the bar.

He’s loving this competition, having made a serious entrance earlier in the tournament versus Eintracht Frankfurt. The 18-year-old now has two goals and five assists across all competitions this season.

The Gunners needed just three more minutes to tie the score on a day they outshot the hosts 15-11.

Saka showed his nose for goal to tie the score five minutes later with a dribble to the top of the 18 and a sly finish to the keeper’s left.

This was all happening around the same time Vitoria scored twice in three minutes to take a 3-2 lead on Eintracht Frankfurt.

Standard Liege goes from the knockout rounds to nothing in a blink, while Eintracht goes from winning the group to second.

The field for the Europa League is looking fierce, with Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg joining the competition via transfer from the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal joins Premier League sides Wolves and Manchester United in the knockout rounds, having lost the Europa League final to rivals Chelsea at the end of last season.

The Gunners beat West Ham on Monday and host Manchester City at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

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Matchweek 17 is here in the Premier League as the games continue to come thick and fast during the festive season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.


With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Liverpool 3-1 Watford – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM] 

Crystal Palace 3-1 Brighton – (Monday, 2:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Leicester 3-0 Norwich – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]


Southampton 1-1 West Ham – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM]

Sheffield United 2-1 Aston Villa – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Man United 2-1 Everton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


Arsenal 3-3 Man City – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Wolves 1-2 Tottenham – (Sunday 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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Matchweek 17 of the Premier League season is here, as the busy festive season continues.

Get in there.

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The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days.


7:30 a.m. ET: Liverpool v. Watford – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Chelsea v. Bournemouth – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley v. Newcastle – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Leicester City v. Norwich City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sheffield United v. Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Southampton v. West Ham – NBC [STREAM]

9 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]
9 a.m. ET: Man United v. Everton  – NBC Sports Gold[STREAM]
11:30 a.m. ET: Arsenal v. Man City – NBCSN [STREAM]

2:45 p.m. ET: Crystal Palace v. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]

Miami ready to arrive as global soccer city

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This weekend the Premier League on NBC Sports crew are heading to Miami Beach to host the second Premier League Mornings Live Fan Fest of the season.

And Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe and Kyle Martino, along with several high-profile guests, will be arriving in a city which is primed to re-enter the discussion as a truly global soccer city.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

With David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF franchise arriving in Major League Soccer for March 2020, CONCACAF’s HQ in Miami, plus many of the biggest clubs in the world visiting Miami to play in friendly games each summer — and of course the USMNT and USWNT both playing regularly in South Florida — Miami is already well on its way to becoming a key U.S. hub for the global game.

But things are changing. Rapidly.

After the Miami Fusion folded in early 2002 and the heyday of the NASL long gone, there was a soccer void in MIA, but now teams are popping up in both MLS and USL, and if you wander around Miami you will spot jerseys from just about every club on the planet.

Peter Smith (who played for the U.S. Futsal Team in the 1989 world championships) is involved in soccer in the Miami area where he runs his company, Smash Soccer, a consultancy agency.

He has seen a huge upturn in the popularity of the sport in and around Miami in recent years.

“There will be a big turnout and a great atmosphere at the Clevelander because their is such a passion for the sport in Miami and South Florida,” Smith said. “Miami is more of an international city than an American city. You always see Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, Juventus, Boca Juniors, River Plate and Flamengo jerseys, as well as plenty of Liverpool, Man United, Man City and Chelsea shirts and there is so much interest in the global game.

“Miami has such a mix of tourists and residents that you will always have PL interest in and around the bars and on the streets and there really is a growing interest in the Premier League. There are plenty of fan bars on gamedays, and in particular areas of Miami where you have specific bars for fans supporting clubs in South America and Europe. It’s a real mix and it is wonderful.”

[ MORE: How to attend the Miami Fan Fest ]

When you start to ask around the Miami area, it is clear soccer is on the minds of many.

Mike Ryan Ruiz is the Executive Producer for The Dan Le Batard Show and Host of Chelsea’s new U.S. focused podcast, “Chelsea Mike’d Up.” 

Aside from his focus on all things Premier League with the Blues, Ruiz believes the arrival of Inter Miami CF will be a key part of the puzzle in soccer getting back on the map in Miami.

“The soccer community is really buzzing down here for Inter Miami, even though it’s in Fort Lauderdale initially. Our supporters groups, I think, are going to be the talk of MLS. There are three main groups but the wildest is Vice City,” Ruiz explained. “I really think Inter is going to be a success story. The town is desperate for a winner and I think they’re well positioned even as an expansion team. We’ve been waiting on this for so long. It felt like the day might never come… but we’re here.”

It is sure to be one heck of a party at the Clevelander Hotel in Miami Beach this weekend as Miami continues to grow as a worldwide soccer destination.

All the details for our Fan Fest can be found right here.