Your Group of Five Team as a European Soccer Club

When you don’t have your usual sports, you tend to find alternative ways to entertain yourself. I have always had an affinity for European soccer dating back almost 20 years. I spent a year overseas in South Korea, and while over there my sports viewing options consisted of either watching English Premier League soccer at relatively normal times or staying up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the one or two MLB or NFL games that AFN would simulcast.

You’ll be shocked to know that after a year I had little clue what my favorite state-side teams were doing, but had regular discussions about Champions League group-stage pairings.

That appreciation of soccer was reinforced when I returned to college and attended a Division II school with decent men’s and women’s soccer teams. We can discuss the perils of hanging around a predominantly Irish women’s team and a predominantly English men’s team later, but it taught me that good soccer is fun to watch.

Therefore, it was easy for me to get back into watching soccer as this spring rolled on and no American sports leagues were going on, but I decided to go a step further. I decided to set about creating comparisons between all of the current Group of Five football programs and a European soccer counterpart.

This way, when things continue to unravel stateside and we have fewer and fewer sports to watch, you can turn your attention to another team who can produce a similar feeling to the one your favorite college football team created so well.

Thanks to Josh from the @TogetherBHA podcast (a Brighton Hove & Albion joint, give it a listen) for helping me make these amazing lists. For each school, you’ll see the school name, my brief description, Josh’s comparison, and the European League you should be following.

A caveat here, several of these teams have just been promoted or relegated

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Cincinnati – Consistently good to great but never elite; always a serious chance they’ll “get there” and yet here we are
Everton – One of only 7 teams to have never been relegated from the PL, a model of consistency, and have spawned some serious talent: Lukaku, Rooney to name two. Always a chance this is the year they push for top 4 and euro glory and yet. English Premier League

East Carolina – Next year is always the year they’re going to turn the corner but it never happens, a close to the coast party school
Derby County – After being relegated in the mid-00s they have had season after season of ‘almosts’ – they have had good managers, spent money, but always the bridesmaid and never the bride in their search to get back to the Premier League. Whenever they get close, they run into someone just a bit better, lose a manager, lose a top player, or just have a bit of a meltdown internally. English Championship

Houston – 30 years ago they were a great program. They’ve maintained and been good but haven’t been able to get that last little push
Valencia CF – 20-30 years ago was their best run in recent memory with wins in the league, runners up in the champions league and some cup wins. Valencia never got worse, but teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid just got drastically better.  La Liga

Memphis – Can never get over the UCF hump (0-13) but great otherwise. The team embraces the identity of the city of Memphis
Borussia Dortmund – A team that embraces its city, its people, and its place in the German football structure. A focus on developing youth and an exciting and progressive team that is commonly known as ‘everyone’s second team’ due to their likeability. They just cannot get one past Bayern Munich. Bundesliga

Navy – The model of consistency – not elite but never below average for any stretch
Aberdeen – They are always the third or fourth-best team in Scotland, but never can they ever match up to the elite two of Rangers and Celtic. The day they do would be historic after three decades of not coming close, but who knows when that would be? They also were the ‘birthplace’ of one of the greatest managers of all time – Sir Alex Ferguson. Scottish Premier League

SMU – Historically great program, then the death penalty. Bounce back, and they suck again. A solid program that embraces their city, and has become fun and good, again.
AC Milan – Historically a wonderful football team with a rich history. Then the Calciopoli – a match-fixing scandal that AC was wholly involved in. 15 point deduction and a total inner collapse lead to them being average to poor at best for most of the 00s and early 10s. Just about starting to come around now, with some promising youth like Donarumma and a returning Zlatan. Serie A

South Florida – Starts hot, ends ice cold. If they weren’t located in a hotbed for talent, they’d likely sink to very low lows
Exeter City – Their previous three seasons they have started like a runaway train, excellent results, excellent league position. This is followed by a drop in form, followed by an eventual playoff run. They have lost three playoff finals in a row. If it wasn’t for the occasional big-name sale like Ollie Watkins, Matt Grimes, or Jordan Storey in recent years they would be much much worse off. League 2 (England)

Temple – After getting launched out of the Big East, recently flirted with relevance but are generally relying on the defense to be above average.
Fiorentina – An Italian side that has threatened to be a good side once or twice but ultimately is just bang average. Most teams in Serie A have good defensive roots and Fiorentina is no different. Top 10 defensively, but still just an average team. Do play in a beautiful purple kit though. Serie A

Tulane – Decently successful until they decided not to spend to keep up. A decades-long drought punctuated by one random undefeated season that got them to #10 in the BCS rankings. They’ve started to turn a corner but are never going to be what they once were; fantastic uniforms though.
FC Porto – A highly decorated club with a history of dominance in their division. Despite that, they have struggled in European competitions for their entire existence, never quite capable of going toe to toe with the very best. They had a golden generation in 03/04 with Jose Mourinho at the helm, romping to a league title and unbelievable Champions League win to be the best team in Europe and their home country. Their recent performances are continuing to impress, but they’re probably never going to be at that level of 03/04 again. Primeira Liga (Portugal)

Tulsa – Used to be a good program used as a launching pad for good coaches, but now they’ve significantly underperformed.
Southampton – Gareth Bale, Van Dijk; 10 years ago they were a solid team rising the ranks back to Premier League glory. They have cultivated top talent over the same period but have suffered in recent times, spending more time struggling to stay in the PL than push on. Premier League

UCF – Flashy and fun, you either love them or hate them. They will let you know they have arrived. Claimed a championship because they could.
Manchester City – A team that has been Manchester United’s little brother for many years. After sinking to League One in 2001, they gradually rose back up and hit the jackpot in 2008 with the Abu Dhabi group takeover. They’re now one of the most dominant teams in the world, with Pep Guardiola coaching and world-class players like Aguero, De Bruyne, and Raheem Sterling. The Manchester City model of endless money and endless success is a thing most fans can only dream of. Premier League

CONFERENCE USA

Charlotte – An old university/city, had a football team briefly right after WW2, then went from not existing to FBS in about two years. Have mostly done just enough so far but big things might be coming.
Fleetwood Town – A team originally formed in 1908, the newest and fourth iteration of the side was formed in 1997 and after decades of non-league semi-pro football, they made it to the Football League in 2011 thanks to the goals of Jamie Vardy. Since winning promotion to League 1 they have done just enough to continue to stay and are now threatening to kick on to the championship. Currently managed by highly controversial Joey Barton, it’s probably best not to look into his history as a player or manager if you want to enjoy their rise. League One (England)

Florida Atlantic – A new program that was brought to relevance by a historically great coach who had helped raise two other schools before. Recently were briefly relevant nationally under a big-name coach who left for a bigger job,
TSG Hoffenheim – An obscure German team that was an amateur side in the 90s before local billionaire Dietmar Hopp returned to the club to bring them to the big time. Within 8 years they went from amateur side to Bundesliga side and set the league on fire with their meteoric rise with Ralf Rangnick at the helm. The future remains to be seen, but they are a solid Bundesliga side that could realistically one day challenge the very top sides. Bundesliga

Florida International – Right down the way from FAU, created at the same time but mostly just existed until three years ago when they got themselves a brand name coach and recruiter who had been away for a while for… reasons
Stuttgart – An historically solid German side that has found a new rival in Hoffenheim after their rise to the top levels. They haven’t had the same run of form, having only won a Bundesliga back in 07/08, and then everything went downhill. Losing their best players, coaches, and top division status in recent years, they are just now celebrating their return there and will hope to continue their return to the top half and dominate their once irrelevant rivals. Bundesliga 2

Louisiana Tech – A historically decent team that has randomly been excellent but is never punching as far above their weight class as their fans think.
Sheffield Wednesday – Historically mediocre team, never pulled up trees in the English game but quite likable and very steady for the most part. Randomly have some excellent seasons in recent memory but their fans truly believe them to be a massive club (their own words) and live in constant denial. Championship (England)

Marshall – Has survived a crisis that almost wiped out its program and has risen back to being borderline elite.
Bournemouth – 20 years ago they were in the doldrums, lower league football going nowhere and struggling to survive. Had a momentous rise back to glory and are now enjoying their first and longest run in the Premier League ever. Premier League

Middle Tennessee – Their mascot is the most interesting thing about them. A long-tenured coach who’s had flashes of competent teams but then drift back to average quickly
Cardiff City FC – Bluebird mascot matches the blue horse here. A team that has typically always played in blue was taken over by Malaysian Vincent Tan in the 00s, he changed everything from blue to red. Absolute uproar meant they recently reverted to blue, and their beloved bluebird remains. Shown flashes of good seasons under experienced managers (Warnock) but never anything more. Championship (England)

North Texas – Has a nice stadium and should be much better given all the talent in their back yard; in a liberal part of North Texas but are consistently the worst team in their direct geographic region.
Aston Villa – One of four teams in the Birmingham area considered Premier League capable. For a time in the mid-00s, they were the best team in Birmingham, with names like John Carew and Ashley Young playing scintillating attacking football. A change in ownership and their best players moving on resulted in almost total collapse. After hiring Dean Smith they have started a resurgence and are in the Premier League again, though their future is well and truly in doubt in the coming weeks. Premier League

Old Dominion – Around and mediocre for a decade before WW2. Came back a decade ago and were hot (but not elite) and have bombed the last few seasons badly enough they would have been relegated if that were a thing.
Portsmouth – Since the 1960s Portsmouth (also known as Pompey) have been rather irrelevant, until 2003 when they caught fire and made it to the Premier League and stayed there until 2010, even winning an FA Cup to give their fans a memory that will live with them for the rest of their lives. The 2010s onwards have not been so kind, as they have since sunk back down due to financial mismanagement, horrible recruitment, and backroom chaos. They recently returned from League 2 to League 1 and might be upwardly mobile again soon. League 1 (England)

Rice – Plenty of money but no success because none of the money is spent on the team. The school is a high endowment school, but that money goes to other sports or infrastructure as opposed to football.
Tottenham Hotspur – One of the 2020s 10 richest clubs in the world. Levy (owner) has created a profit machine, selling players like Gareth Bale for millions. Unfortunately, his lack of reinvestment in the team limits their success. They should be elite but are only very good. They followed up their best season in recent memory by spending nothing in the next transfer window, instead opting for a shiny new stadium. Premier League

Southern Mississippi – A historically mediocre team that has randomly been excellent but is never punching as far above their weight class as their fans think.
AS Monaco – Never been the dominant team in France but has had flashes of it, including a Champions League final and a few league titles. They have a penchant for developing youth, including recently Mbappe and Bernardo Silva. They aren’t as good as they wish they were though. Ligue 1

UAB – Vanished for two years and eventually reborn, they’ve had great success and their city is now firmly behind their newest iteration
AFC Wimbledon – Throughout the last 20 years they have been brutalized. An ex-Premier League team that was allowed to move away to another city then rebuilt a brand new team from scratch and recently returned to the football league. They are sponsored by Football Manager and have the iconic blue and yellow that they have always had. It is impossible to dislike AFC Wimbledon. League 1 (England)

UTSA – Another young program, but one that doesn’t know what a competent offense looks like
Getafe – Having one of their best seasons ever but struggling for goals compared to their counterparts at the top of the Spanish league. The fourth-best defense with bang average attacking options. La Liga

UTEP – Has never been great, but it’s now two decades since they were even good and everyone forgets when and why
Bolton Wanderers – Once upon a time Bolton Wanderers were a gritty, nasty PL team that caused everyone a problem. Today they are struggling to survive in League 1, and the memory of a time when Bolton was a good top division side is both in the past and something of a fever dream. League 1 (England)

Western Kentucky – Average school with one or two good years and a terrifying but also somehow loveable and endearing mascot
Partick Thistle FC – Their history is riddled with good campaigns but just as many bad ones, and they’ve never had the kind of sustained success (or financial support) of Celtic or Rangers despite a strong fanbase. Their sun mascot is truly the thing of nightmares, no matter how much he might try to hug your children. He’s also definitely better or worse, depending on your position views on Jaggy McBee. Scottish League One

FBS INDEPENDENTS

Army – Lots of very rich history, were miserable for a good while and now are solid to great
Ajax – One of the richest clubs historically in world football. The home of Cruyff and the birth of Total Football, Ajax are just now starting to return to the world stage after years of being caught up by their rivals like PSV and AZ. They play beautiful and captivating football. Eredivisie

New Mexico State – Small town team who is notorious for doing a lot more with a lot less, but needed everything to go right to produce their first bowl game in almost 60 years
Montpellier – A team forever in the shadow of giants like Marseille, Lyon, and Paris Saint Germain, they have a storied history with infrequent successes since the war years. One of the founding members of the French first division, they somehow defied all the odds to win their first-ever Ligue 1 title in 2011. The fairytale didn’t last long though, with normal service resumed almost immediately, Montpellier is back to the shadows as others around them grow ever stronger. Ligue 1 (France) 

Liberty – All the money in the world but nowhere to spend it, so stuck in mediocrity for now. Bankrolled by an evangelical Christian, no one likes them unless they’re bible thumpers
Chinese Super League – Yes, the entire league. When the dictator decided he liked football, everyone and their mum spent money (billions) on football teams. They have a ton of money but very few players are willing to go there. Even fewer are willing to build a foundation there, going for a year or two for cash then bailing. China

UMass – Were successful at a lower level for a long time but only above-average right before they moved up. Now just toiling in upper-level obscurity
Rotherham United – The ultimate yoyo club in the English football league. Rotherham is good, not great, and frequently just not quite good enough. If they aren’t in a promotion fight they’re in a relegation battle, toiling on the border of League 1 and Championship football. A well-run club with ambitions for more, but it all relies on them finding that next step and becoming a reliable Championship side if they ever want to make their Premier League fantasy a reality. League One (England)

UConn – A basketball school with a football team, they will forever throw in your face that one time 20 years ago they got a BCS auto-bid from the shittiest BCS conference. They also just brought back their first-ever coach and went independent so their basketball program could be better. Maybe.
Northampton Town – A rugby town with a football team, they adore their Northampton Saints and get a couple of thousand at Sixfields every week. They will always look back on better days, ex-players like Adebayo Akinfenwa, and a brief dalliance in the top flight in the 60s. They’ve since gone back to basics with manager Keith Curle, and are one of the controversial Corona Playoff winners with promotion to League 1 assured behind closed doors at Wembley Stadium. League 2 (England)

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Akron – An illogical mascot leading a team that is mostly just existing (at a school much better at several other sports)
West Bromwich Albion – They have a hot water boiler as a mascot. A hot water boiler. Why? They have a new sponsor and have been paid to have it. Insane. They are also a yoyo club, bouncing to and from the Premier League a lot in recent years, simply existing in the void. Championship (England)

Ball State – Mostly just happy to be here, because they can’t stay healthy long enough to do much else
Blackburn Rovers – A team with a horrible history of self-sabotage. The first-ever winners of the Premier League in 1992 have never been there again. Nowadays after some terrible backroom decisions from owners to managers, Blackburn is simply happy to not be in danger of liquidation every year. Championship (England)

Bowling Green – Used to be a lot better, now known for their mercurial performance. Currently recovering from an awful coaching hire with less bad coaching.
Sunderland – Working class town, should be much better with their history of developing talent in the northeast. Used to be that good, but held back due to backroom troubles, politics, and bad player and manager recruitment. One of the biggest underachievers in world football today. League One (England)

Buffalo – On the fringes looking in compared to their region, always have the coldest games
Newport County – The little Welsh brother to Cardiff and Swansea, never even close to their level. They are a likable team and have risen from total obscurity in recent years to professional football league status. Although still well behind their regional friends, a fun team. League 2 (England)

Central Michigan – Average to above average for a long time but they just lucked into an elite coach so things are looking up.
Leeds – A team with a rich history of success, especially in the previous decades. They have faded into obscurity in recent years after relegation from the Premier League. They did however somehow hire Bielsa, an elite manager and he is merely days away from bringing them back to Premier League status. Championship (England)

Eastern Michigan – Will literally run through a brick wall for their fans. Not successfully, and only metaphorically
Galatasaray – The fans love the club, the club loves the fans. One of the biggest teams in Turkey so come with a big reputation, but take a look at their fan reception to their victory in 2012, or just general fan activities based around their love for the club. A great relationship between club and fans in a volatile country for football. Turkish Superlig

Kent State – Almost a decade removed from their last shockingly good season, they just pulled success from the jaws of embarrassment last year – and bring everyone back, but still, nobody believes in them.
West Ham United – Relegation for a team of West Ham’s caliber is an embarrassment. Make no bones about it. Having recently moved to the Olympic Stadium (built for the 2012 games), the fans hate it and after looking doomed rallied back to save themselves from a drop to the Championship. Nobody knows if they can do the same this year, as their trajectory hasn’t improved. Premier League

Miami (OH) – An extremely rich history, but they’ve been nothing but mediocre for about 15 years now.
RSC Anderlecht – One of the greatest Belgian sides of all time, with 34 league titles, a UEFA cup amongst many more. Unfortunately, their best times were some time ago with only mild success in the last 15 years. A side with a rich, storied history of great managers, great players, and great times. Belgian Pro League

Northern Illinois – Well known as a defense-first and good enough elsewhere to win consistently, but often just as lucky as they are good.
Atletico Madrid – Diego Simeone has done an incredible job taking Atletico to the next level. Built on a world-class defensive structure there are very few teams in the world able to break down Madrid. Their front line always has just enough world-class firepower to ensure they rival the very best sides in the world, but they often rely on that first goal to sit on and defend. La Liga

Ohio – Sturdy and reliable, just like their leader, but sometimes the offense will surprise you
Burnley – Dyche has been there a long time, good enough to be a midtable Premier League side. Sometimes their attackers will surprise you eg. Chris Wood, Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes. Premier League

Toledo – Notorious for their high-powered offense, though it has imploded on them several times in recent years
Liverpool – Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool has become an attacking force rarely been seen before. However, their defensive frailties in recent seasons have led to them always being the bridesmaid. Not this year though, a few astute defensive signings in Van Dijk and Alisson have led them to their first Premier League title in 30 years. Premier League

Western Michigan  – One fantastically beautiful season and…. well… they wear brown.
Blackpool – One fantastic season in the ’00s and Blackpool found themselves in the Premier League. After a playoff success nobody saw coming they were amongst the top 20 teams in English football. It all went downhill from there though, having to rebuild. They also wear tangerine. League 1 (England)

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

Air Force – Nobody hates them: everyone really hates playing them
Stoke City – A cold Tuesday night in the rain at Stoke has become the stuff of legends at this point. Nobody really HATES Stoke, but nobody likes playing them especially at their place. Championship (England)

Boise State – Always good, mostly great, they’ve gotten to the point where if it’s not an undefeated season, about a quarter of the fans are disappointed.
Paris Saint Germain – Dominant in Ligue 1 and have been for years now, but only good not great due to their lack of success in the Champions League, too good for the locals, not good enough on the world stage. Ligue 1

Colorado State – Permanent Mediocrity; poised to be the next big power at their level but still idling. Made a very confusing and bad coaching hire this year
Forest Green Rovers – First-ever Vegan football club, having their best run ever and poised to continue their rise through the leagues but not quite there yet. Their focus is on liberal, enviro-friendly policies, recently proposing a new stadium made entirely of wood. Colorado and FGR probably have a lot of opinions in common, with two teams ready to take the next step up. League 2 (England)

Fresno State – A long, storied tradition of excellence.  Fans remember the good days.  The city loves to be defined by their gritty football team
Feyenoord – 15 league titles, 3 European cup wins, and yet only 2 of those came since the year 2000. Feyenoord is the number one team in Rotterdam and has a long storied history of excellence and progression. Eredivisie

Hawai’i – If their team doesn’t have a high powered offense, they’re meh at best
KRC Genk – A team that has found success in recent years, with 2 titles in the last ten years. Genk was built heavily on a high powered offensive group with Mbwana Samatta, Leandro Trossard, and others. They have since moved on to greener, more elite pastures and KRC Genk are suffering for it. Their mission to refind that firepower continues. Belgian Pro League

Nevada – Remember when Chris Ault invented the Pistol and Colin Kaepernick was our QB? That was awesome. Haven’t been able to re-capture that ingenuity or success yet.
Arsenal – Remember when Arsene Wenger took the team to an undefeated season in 2004/05? Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera? That was awesome. The team hasn’t been able to re-capture the ingenuity or success from 15 years ago. Their fans are the creators of the infamous Arsenal Fan TV, home of the cringe. Premier League

New Mexico – They can’t decide if they want good defense or good offense…switches every 10 years or so
Manchester United – Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left at the end in 2013, they can’t decide on their new identity. Do they want to be an attacking force? Defensively solid? Nobody has known. In identity limbo with world-class manager after world-class manager trying and failing, they are now starting to get on the right track with an entertaining offensive group. Premier League

San Diego State – Their teams are very focused on defense, with a slow run-it-up-the-middle offense that probably prevents them from having enormous success year-in and year-out
Inter Milan – Milan is home to a ton of top-notch sports teams. Basketball, a Grand Prix, ice hockey, one of the most famous cycling velodromes in the world. The city is so rich in sporting success, Inter is just another successful team. Like most in Serie A, they’re an impressive defensive side with multiple reasons preventing enormous success year in and year out, including the omnipotent Juventus. Serie A

San José State – We exist!
Notts County – One of the oldest clubs in world football, Notts County have never really had a huge amount of success, especially in recent years suffering relegation after relegation. But their claim to fame will always endure as long as they kick a football. A storied, rich history stretching back to the 1860s, a team long overdue a return to the upper echelons. National League (England)

UNLV – History of athletic competence from about 20 years ago, but never really in football. Playing in the Las Vegas Raiders new stadium, poised for the next big jump, but have always been the 2nd favorite program for the school
Port Vale – 20 years ago they were up in the second tier of English football, even winning a trophy. Never the best team in the city of Stoke on Trent, due to Stoke City’s superiority for the majority of their existence. A team with their share of financial struggles, they always seem like they could come back again, but the reality isn’t so kind. League 2 (England)

Utah State – have a couple of star players here and there, but their football competitiveness has been very recent
Atalanta – A team nobody saw coming, their football competitiveness has been recent, but they play entertaining and attacking football in both Serie A and European competitions. They boast some quality players in Luis Muriel, Marten De Roon, and others but their foundation is on solid, team-first football and they’re a joy to watch succeed at the highest level. Serie A

Wyoming – Lots of good history, lots of bad history: Cowboys in every sense of the word; hideous but also beautiful yellow/brown color scheme
Lazio – Lots of good history in 2 league titles, 7 cup wins, and European success. Lots of bad history too, one of the 5 clubs in the match-fixing scandal and some ropey ownership over the years. Lazio is a fun side with good players and a unique sky blue kit. Serie A

SUN BELT CONFERENCE

Appalachian State – A program with a deep and successful history who came to the big level recently, along with their oldest and most bitter rival. They have been pretty damn good since they came up.
Celtic – Despise Rangers since the beginning of time. They refuse to see Rangers as a legitimate real side since their collapse, insisting this is not the same team and wanting to stand on the corpse of the old Rangers side in glee. They are now the dominant force in Scotland but can never, ever match that same quality in Europe due to the huge gulf in standards from the world stage to Scotland. Scottish Premier League

Arkansas State – A lot of coaching turnover in their recent past, such that their current coach staying five seasons is a miracle, but always the bridesmaid. Typically their coach goes on to bigger and better jobs
Watford – Having gone through four different managers in one season, Watford is fighting for their life at the bottom of the Premier League. Always the bridesmaid, Watford is a solid, family club that prides themselves on their work in the community. If only they could make that translate to their performances on the pitch. Some of their more recent managers have gone on to bigger and better things, leaving the club picking up the pieces. Premier League

Coastal Carolina – Great locale and a new program. Great mascot in the Chanticleers.
FC Union Berlin – The Iron Union with the Iron Knight as their mascot, this is a team that recently found themselves in the very top flight of German football. With a fanbase known as a ‘cult club’ type, they have done many weird and wonderful things making them a hugely attractive proposition for new fans of the game. Their community work is outstanding and their activities both fun and eye-catching. Bundesliga

Georgia Southern – A program with a deep and successful history who came to the big level recently, along with their oldest and most bitter rival. They have been pretty damn good since they came up
Rangers – Despise Celtic since the beginning of time, with ties to the Catholic and Protestant religious wars and fights. The derby games are hostile, loud, and downright nasty a lot of the time. In recent years Rangers have been firmly in Celtics shadow, much to the delight of their rivals. Scottish Premier League

Georgia State – South Alabama but in a bigger city and with much larger aspirations – mostly from their pie-in-the-sky fanbase
Birmingham City – Having spent a quarter of their lives in the top division post WW2 with one League Cup to show for it, you’d never know. The fans believe they’re better than they are, while also dealing with teams around them continuing to prosper. Birmingham City is a team in dire straits after some awful ownership, management, and recruiting issues and has a lot of work to do if they want to even match Aston Villa, let alone be as good as they think they should be. Championship (England)

Louisiana – Pissed people off with a name “change”, had a scandal that wiped out some wins. Made a habit of “9 wins and a bowl” until they hired a young coach from a better program.
MK Dons – One of the greatest controversies ever to happen in English football is when the original Wimbledon side in the early 00s up and relocated to Milton Keynes; they never hear the end of it. Commonly referred to as Franchise FC by most fans outside of the club, they have a horrible habit of bouncing between the middle leagues in English football. League 1 (England)

Louisiana Monroe – Small team in the boonies that had a good stretch a few years back that’s becoming more inexplicable the further away it becomes
Huddersfield – A team always in the shadows of Leeds United, they are a smaller team out in Yorkshire that had a wonderful stretch of seasons just a few years back. David Wagner took them from a middle Championship side to promotion and two seasons in the Premier League, something not seen since WW2. Back in the Championship now, they are in grave danger of back to back relegations. Championship (England)

South Alabama – Very new program, so new that their fans cant take their foot off the gas for their old team, but they finally got a brand home field. Someday they’ll win two meaningful games in a row.
Inter Miami – A brand new program partly owned by David Beckham, Miami is bound to be a solid football town with the diversity in the city, but many fans are going to have a hard time switching so swiftly from Atlanta United (a team close by ish that matched their culture) to a brand new team popping up in their city. Rest assured though, this team is likely to do great things in the future for the MLS. Major League Soccer

Texas State – They exist, but it remains to be seen just how hard they’re trying to win.
FK Jablonec – A Czech team for an area rich in Czech history only feels right. However, due to the team’s consistent lack of success, we couldn’t possibly give them Sparta Prague. No, Jablonec fits the bill perfectly. A team in the top division of Czech football since 1994, but never good enough to win the league, who knows if they ever will rival the big boys. Czech First Division

Troy – Recently imperfect but one of the best teams in their region for a long time, games have a great atmosphere
Bayer Leverkusen – Always host to a great atmosphere, Leverkusen are the near men of the Bundesliga. Runners up numerous times, several cup wins, European triumphs, and more, Leverkusen are a very likable side with a great social media presence and a very promising young side with players like Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey and Kevin Volland. A team on the cusp.  Bundesliga


My personal favorite takeaways here are simple. It seems fitting that most of the MAC got compared to second division English squads, and that Boise State wound up getting the “good but oh so close to great” that is Paris St. Germain.

I also couldn’t be happier that the long-standing vitriol between Appalachian State and Georgia Southern gets represented by Celtic and Rangers, a rivalry where a lot of actual blood has been spilled.

Agree or disagree, let us know!

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