Congratulations, you've made it through 296 MLS regular season matches. You soared, you suffered, you questioned the existence of Chad Barrett. The pain and suffering is all made worth it by this -- the playoffs.
The 19 teams have been cut to 10, who will play 15 matches over 40 days to determine the champion. It will be physical, it will be intense, it will be remarkable, it will be fun and it will be bizarre. The MLS Cup playoffs run the gamut, and include everything we love about the league. Every great moment is followed by a perplexing one and every predictable play is followed by one that makes you question your sobriety and that of everyone around you.
But what if you're a fan of one of the nine teams that have been eliminated? Or what if you don't have a team? Or what if your team is in the playoffs, but they suck and will be eliminated because, trust me, your team sucks? Who should you root for?
We've got you covered.
The Definitive Rootability Rankings for the MLS Cup Playoffs
Why you should root for them: No Canadian team has ever won an MLS playoff match.
Why you should root against them: No Canadian team has ever won an MLS playoff match.
Why you should root for them: It would be cool to see a team win back-to-back MLS Cups, they have great fans and Sporting Park is far and away the best stadium in the league.
Why you shouldn't root for them: They finished the season terribly, don't have anyone so good that they will blow your mind, have no underdog status and aren't even entertaining to watch. They just exist and, recently, have existed poorly. Most importantly, if they play really poorly then Peter Vermes will combust on the touchline and watching things blow up is fun.
Why you should root for them: Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio are gems, while Luis Gil could be the future of the United States midfield.
Why you shouldn't root for them: They have been doing the same thing with, generally, the same guys for years. And while they call it attractive and positive soccer, some might call it monotonous. You'll probably find a more descriptive but slightly less family-friendly word for it.
Why you should root for them: Federico Higuain continues to toil away in relative anonymity, which is a shame because he's brilliant. They also have Wil Trapp, arguably the best young player in MLS. Most importantly, it'd be great to see the Village People crest succeed one last time before it's officially replaced.
Why you shouldn't root for them: When Trapp took the armband for a few matches earlier this season, they called him "Trapptain." They're lucky they didn't get kicked out of the league.
Why you should root for them: Thierry Henry.
Why you shouldn't root for them: Everything else, but especially because MLS survives on the tears of Red Bulls fans and we are unsure of the league's viability if they ever win MLS Cup.
Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports
5. FC Dallas
Why you should root for them: Oscar Pareja is a magician. He turned the Colorado Rapids into a real, competitive and fun team last season. The Rapids! And now he's doing the same with Dallas, despite having a very young team. More than anything, though, Pareja has turned Fabian Castillo from underachiever into one of the league's most exciting players, worth the price of admission alone.
Why you shouldn't root for them: Take away Castillo and the rest of the team elicits emotions that range from "meh" to "screw you."
4. D.C. United
Why you should root for them: Everyone likes rooting for the underdog, but no one wants to see a fluke champion. D.C. solves this problem because they made the biggest turnaround from one year to the next in MLS history, giving them underdog cache, but are the top seed in the East, so nobody can call them a fluke. They also have Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen, two fantastic young players who you will see a lot of with the U.S. national team in the future.
Why you shouldn't root for them: It's tough to root for a team when Fabian Espindola is their best attacking player. Plus, if the final was at RFK Stadium, soccer would be the secondary sport to "spectators dodging falling concrete."
3. LA Galaxy
Why you should root for them: No player has been more important to the survival of MLS than Landon Donovan and, with him retiring after the season, seeing him go out with a record sixth MLS Cup would be incredible. He would also be capturing the Galaxy's third MLS Cup in four years, making them arguably the greatest dynasty in MLS history. Oh, and then there are MVP candidate Robbie Keane and the promising young American and 16-goal scorer Gyasi Zardes, both part of the best attack in MLS.
Why you shouldn't root for them: Nobody roots for Cobra Kai.
Why you should root for them: No team in MLS has won the treble, but the Sounders have already won the Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup so they are an MLS Cup away from history. They also have arguably the biggest American star in Clint Dempsey, arguably the most exciting young American in DeAndre Yedlin, an MVP candidate in Obafemi Martins and are never shy about throwing men forward. There's also the prospect of them winning MLS Cup at home in front of 67,000 fans.
Why you shouldn't root for them: Because then Seattle will have invented the MLS Cup.
Why you should root for them: They are red hot, going 8-1-1 since signing Jermaine Jones. Oh yeah, they have that U.S. World Cup star. They also have MVP candidate Lee Nguyen and budding youngsters Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe, too. They play attractive, attacking soccer and are finally rewarding a fan base that, while small, has been amazingly loyal to a club that has been producing terrible results in a terrible stadium for years.
Ask yourself this question: do you have a soul?
If you answered yes, root for the Revs. If you answered no, root for the Revs.
Why you shouldn't root for them: Robert Kraft would be happy.