The similarities between MLS clubs and NFL teams are all too familiar
While the MLS offseason continues, the other kind of football teams have reached one of the most exciting parts of their season: the NFL Playoffs. We’ve already seen the MLS Playoffs unfold and conclude with plenty of drama and action at every turn. To put NFL’s drama in MLS terms, we have taken on the challenge of finding the best comparison for every NFL playoff team with an MLS playoff team from the 2020 season just gone.
Baltimore Ravens: FC Dallas
Both the Ravens and FC Dallas are solid regular season teams but haven’t gotten much done recently in the playoffs. At least Dallas have won a playoff game in the calendar year of 2020 though, which has been a source of criticism for Lamar Jackson.
Buffalo Bills: Minnesota United
Both teams were legitimate underdogs in their respective recent histories. Since then, Minnesota United made it to the Western Conference Final and many are predicting Buffalo to make their Conference Championship as well.
Chicago Bears: New York Red Bulls
What ties the Bears and the Red Bulls together is their uninspiring record despite their playoff statuses. New York Red Bulls finished the 2020 MLS Regular Season with a -2 goal difference. Chicago Bears finished their season with a +2 point difference.
Cleveland Browns: Colorado Rapids
Two underdogs overperformed throughout this season but their successes have been hindered by COVID outbreaks. The Browns and the Rapids are also relying on young players heavily.
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Green Bay Packers: Columbus Crew
Situated in the midwest, the Packers and the Crew had exceptional seasons but went through large portions of the campaign with their feats being underreported. Aaron Rodgers is as vital to Green Bay as Lucas Zelarayan is pulling the strings in Columbus.
Indianapolis Colts: New York City FC
The Colts and NYC find themselves firmly in the “best of the rest tier”, finishing their regular seasons where they would need to go on the road in the playoffs. The veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is reminiscent of the days where NYC’s top stars were aging Europeans.
Kansas City Chiefs: Seattle Sounders
No surprise here. Chiefs are the chalk pick to repeat as Super Bowl champions as the Sounders were to repeat last year. It didn’t quite work out that way for the team in Emerald Green, but Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce is an offensive trio that few can defend against. This is not unlike the situation with Nicolas Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz, and Jordan Morris.
Los Angeles Rams: Nashville SC
Two firm believers of the phrase “Defense wins championships”. Aaron Donald is the star attraction in the Rams’ defense, while Walker Zimmerman’s performances for Nashville left MLS fans wondering all season why LAFC traded him. Their liabilities on the offensive end hold them back though.
New Orleans Saints: Philadelphia Union
The last few playoff runs have not been kind to the Saints, causing their fans to believe their team may be cursed despite having won a Super Bowl semi-recently. Similarly, the Philadelphia Union looked like they were knocking on the door of an MLS Cup. Alas, the door slammed shut on them. Brenden Aaronson is now a Salzburg player, while Drew Brees could retire soon.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Portland Timbers
The Timbers had a great summer winning the MLS is Back Tournament and the Steelers had a great fall starting their season 11-0. Those earlier successes don’t always translate to success when it’s crunch time though, and the Steelers somewhat backed into the playoffs. Can they avoid the one-and-done fate that the Timbers suffered to FC Dallas?
Seattle Seahawks: Sporting Kansas City
This was not done on purpose for the reverse of the Chiefs/Sounders comparison. These two are consistent forces in their leagues but aren’t the main threats to challenge for titles as of late. Underestimate them at your own peril though, both led by experienced coaches.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LAFC
Star names are the main draw for this pair of teams. Tom Brady is considered the G.O.A.T. of Football, while Carlos Vela is one of the best players in Major League Soccer. Their star power is enough to get them to the playoffs, but their flaws in other areas prevent them from going too far at this stage.
Tennessee Titans: Orlando City
From the Titans’ run to the AFC Championship Game in 2020 to Orlando City reaching the MLS is Back Tournament Final, these two southern/southeastern based clubs arguably have punched above their own weight. Of course, Derrick Henry and Nani both can deal knockout blows on their own.
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Washington Football Team: Montreal Impact
These were among the most surprising teams to qualify for the playoffs, but thanks to the expanded formats and in Washington’s case a weak division, they made it anyway. Perhaps Washington is more excited about their future than Montreal though.
Did we get these comparisons right? Do you want to see more crossover content like this for other sports or other leagues in soccer such as the Premier League or Liga MX? Let us know in the comments below!