MLS to NFL Franchise Doppelgängers

The MLS is Back Tournament has begun and NFL training camp begins in just a few short weeks. So, to better familiarize you with the franchises in both leagues, Broadway Sports Media has come up with a handy comparison guide.

Atlanta United: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs and Atlanta United both have incredible fan support and, why wouldn’t they? Pat Mahomes quarterbacks one of the most lethal offenses in football and Josef Martinez (though injured the remainder of this year) is the catalyst behind Atlanta’s vaunted attack. Mahomes and Martinez are two of their respective football’s brightest stars and could be the defining players of their eras.

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Chicago Fire: Washington TBD

This team SHOULD be better, right? Big market teams, with long histories, and pretty decent histories at that. However, they struggle currently to be anything other than bad. There’s not much else to say about these rudderless clubs.

FC Cincinnati: Jacksonville Jaguars

Yikes. The saying is, if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. That is the common thread between these two franchises.

Colorado Rapids: Carolina Panthers

Neither of these teams were very good in 2019, however there should be some reserved optimism for 2020. The Rapids have a better chance of making the playoffs in 2020 than the Panthers, but both should be tough outs on a game-by-game basis. I would expect these teams to be on the rise and in real playoff contention as soon as 2021.

Columbus Crew: Arizona Cardinals

Young-ish coaches, and seasons that were a bit better than expected in 2019. In 2020, the addition of stars in Darlington Nagbe for Columbus and DeAndre Hopkins for Arizona will lead to huge expectations. These teams are going playoffs or bust this season despite maybe not having championship aspirations.

D.C. United: Pittsburgh Steelers

There is a history of winning between D.C. United and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are tied for the most Super Bowls won and D.C. United is 2nd in MLS Cup Final wins with 4. While it’s been a while since D.C. United won a title, they, like the Steelers are a solid team, and should be playoff bound in 2020.

FC Dallas: Denver Broncos

Homegrown teams with a lot of young potential. It will be interesting to see if there is any fire to the smoke these teams have been emitting this offseason. One thing is for certain, the fortunes of these teams will be up to the kids.

Houston Dynamo: New York Giants

The Giants and Dynamo both have coaches that are relative unknowns at the highest level. There is a bit of offensive talent available to each coach, but the defenses will leave something to be desired. It would be a bit surprising for either team to be in contention, although the Giants certainly have more of an uphill climb to be able to compete.

Sporting Kansas City: Tampa Bay Bucs

Tampa Bay and Sporting Kansas City not very good teams in 2019, but they made additions this offseason to try and put them over the top. We’ll see if Tompa Bay is all that it’s hyped to be, just as Kansas City will see if Alan Pulido’s goal scoring prowess can catapult them back into contention.

LAFC: Baltimore Ravens

Electric factories. Led by offensive playmakers in Carlos Vela and Lamar Jackson, you would not be surprised to see either team hoisting their respective championship trophies in 2020. Both the Ravens and LAFC fell short of their goals last year, but they will be one of the favorites to win this year. It pains me to compare a team I enjoy watching, in LAFC to a team I loathe, in the Ravens, however the offenses of these two clubs are a sight to behold. It needs to be noted, that LAFC is not just a one-man show, either. Diego Rossi is one of the best players the MLS has to offer, but is a bit overshadowed by Vela.

LA Galaxy: New England Patriots

The Patriots and LA Galaxy share a common DNA. Winning. Both clubs lead their league in Titles, the Patriots winning 6 Super Bowls and the Galaxy with 5 MLS Cup wins. This year, both clubs look to replace a legendary player. Tom Brady will be replaced with a virtual unknown in Jarret Stidham, and Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) will try and fill the shoes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Inter Miami: Las Vegas Raiders

New venues and two iconic owners (one for his haircuts and one for his playing career). While you would never mistake David Beckham for Mark Davis, you would definitely be able to pick them out of a crowd. I’m not really sure what to expect from either club this season, but I will definitely be watching.

Minnesota United: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings and United share the Twin Cities and a defensive minded strategy. Despite league standings that typically favor offensive teams, the Vikings and United have enjoyed some recent success and could be dark-horses to win it all in 2020. Minnesota United is a team that NSC could emulate as a new expansion team with defensive-minded beginnings.

Montreal Impact: Chicago Bears

The Montreal impact hired one of the hottest names in soccer, in Thierry Henry to be their manager. Similarly, Matt Nagy was the “hot candidate” back when the Bears hired him. I expect the hiring of Henry to end up the same way Nagy’s tenure will likely end, with him getting the boot.

Montreal has had 7 managers since joining the MLS less than a decade ago in 2012, exhibiting a rudderless approach to running a club. The Bears have around 10 TEs on their roster and drafted Mitch Trubisky to be their franchise signal caller. Things will likely not get better for either franchise until things are changed at the very top.

Another similarity between the two clubs is that the mascot for Chicago is a bear, and what roams the streets of every Canadian city? Bears.

Nashville SC: Tennessee Titans

NSC and the Titans share a home in Nashville, and while in 2020, the Titans were the epitome of offensive efficiency, Nashville SC hopes to embody the defensive roots of the Titans.

This past offseason, NSC brought in Walker Zimmerman as they try to replicate the success he had in 2019 as a part of LAFC’s excellent defensive core. If NSC was offered the same type of success that the Titans have had in the past few seasons, you would imagine they’d accept that offer in an instant.

New England Revolution: Buffalo Bills

Led by solid coaching in Sean McDermott and Bruce Arena, these teams have playoff aspirations in 2020. What’s the real comparison though? Each club leads their respective league in championship game appearances without a win (Revolution 0-5 and Bills 0-4).

The Revolution and the Bills both have lost the most consecutive championships in a row, Buffalo losing 4 in a row and the Revolution with a sadness 3-peat.

NYCFC: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys and NYCFC will be led by new coaches going into 2020 with very high expectations. Both teams are solid, all around teams, led by their offenses and play in massive markets. NYCFC lacks the larger than life owner and rich history that the Cowboys possess, but on-field, these have quite a few similarities.

New York Red Bulls: Houston Texans

It seems like both these teams make the playoffs every year, but then you look at their offseason and you wonder if they are making the playoffs in spite of themselves. The in-state/in-city rivals of NYRB (NYFC) and the Texans (Cowboys) have superior teams, at times making you almost forget that the Texans and Red Bulls exist.

Orlando City: Cleveland Browns

The definition of paper tigers. Both teams boast lots of offensive talent, but have gotten coaches fired due to subpar results. We will see if the hiring of coaches that are seen as more steadying presences will allow these teams to reach their potential.

Philadelphia Union: Indianapolis Colts

Both the Philadelphia Union and Indianapolis Colts are solid, yet unspectacular teams. They need and injection of superstar talent to help them emerge as anything other than a middling team. The Colts hope that is Phillip Rivers and Jonathan Taylor. The Union hopes their answer to the same question is Brenden Aaronson.

Portland Timbers: New Orleans Saints

Each team has a returning team legend coming back for another shot at a title in Diego Valeri and Drew Brees. The supporters for the Timbers and Saints are die-hard, and it’s probably hard to find a better atmosphere to watch a game. Solid teams that are always in contention.

Real Salt Lake: Atlanta Falcons

Decent enough teams, yet they seem to ping pong in and out of the playoffs every other year. Real Salt Lake does not have the superstar that Atlanta does in Julio Jones, but the results seem to be the same, nonetheless. Expect both to be in contention for playoffs in 2020.

San Jose Earthquakes: Detroit Lions

Chris Wondolowski and Matt Stafford are both underappreciated greats, in part because their surrounding teams seem to fail them on an annual basis. The Lions and Earthquakes both have great history in their leagues despite being poor recently. Do not expect a championship run from either franchise in 2020, but it seems like a given that Stafford and Wondo will end up near the top of the statistical leaderboards.  

Seattle Sounders: Seattle Seahawks

These two teams share a home field, share some of the same ownership, share the same rabid fanbase, so how could they not be compared to each other? The Sounders has a chance to win it all seemingly every year, making it to the MLS Cup Final 3 of the past 4 years and winning 2 of them. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks haven’t had that kind of success, but it’d be foolish not to count them as a contender.  

Toronto FC: Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest QBs the NFL has to offer. While not at the lofty status of Rodgers, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are two of the best players the United States Men’s National Team has to offer. The expectations are high year in and year out for these two franchises, and yet, it seems that they just fall short. Toronto did at least make an effort to improve a team that fell just short of an MLS Cup, whereas the Packers spent the offseason investing in the future.

Vancouver Whitecaps: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals and Whitecaps were the worst teams in their respective conferences in 2019. Given the talent both teams have added this offseason, especially offensively, I do not imagine they will suffer the same fate in 2020.

Which teams do you agree with or disagree with? Is there a team you are excited to watch based on only the comparison? Let me know in the comments!

Author: Robert GreenlawBorn and raised west of the Mighty Mississippi, a 2nd-grade project on the state of Tennessee introduced Robert to Steve McNair and Eddie George, turning him into a Titans fan for life. Robert was best known for being the Music City Miracles "links guy" for the better part of a decade. He loves all things sports and can be found on The Flex fantasy football podcast, part of Broadway Sports Media.

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