With the Des Moines Menace playing in the USL League Two, Iowans may wonder which MLS team they should support when they watch games in the top level of soccer in the US. Are Iowans favoring any of the teams in the Major League Soccer?
The following are five of the most popular franchises that are worth considering if you are from Iowa and you are looking for a team to support.
What Are The MLS Teams That Iowans Support?
Sporting Kansas City
For many Iowans, this is their closest MLS team and it’s easy to follow their games on cable TV. Based in the metropolitan areas of Kansas City, this franchise plays their home games at Children’s Mercy Park.
They have one of the longest histories in the MLS, although they were known as the Kansas City Wizards for most of the time. Sporting Kansas City play their games in the Western Conference, having played in the Eastern Conference for many years in the past.
Their reserve team is called Sporting Kansas City II, but any conflict of interest for Des Moines fans is avoided as they play in the MLS Next Pro league. In fact, the biggest rivalry for Kansas fans is with Minnesota United FC and it’s often called the nicest rivalry in sport.
Kansas has had plenty of success in the past, but this season has been a struggle. At the time of writing, Kansas sits at the bottom of the Western Conference and also in last place if we combine both Conferences for the overall MLS table.
Their roster includes top players such as Roger Espinoza and Hungarian international Daniel Salloi, who was voted as their most valuable player last season. However, their performances at home have been particularly poor this season and injuries to key players such as Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda have stretched the roster.
We home. pic.twitter.com/rh4IlJWr96
— SKC Des Moines (@SKCDSM) March 5, 2022
Minnesota United FC
Another relatively close option for Iowans, Minnesota United FC is one of the newer clubs in the MLS. They play in the Western Conference and their home games are played at the Allianz Field in Saint Paul.
After a slow start, they’ve started to become a force in the MLS and were very close to reaching the MLS Cup final in 2020. The 2021 season started poorly before they recovered to end in a respectable fifth place.
Go to their home games and you can expect to hear the good-natured fans sing Wonderwall by Oasis, while you might see their mascot, the loon named PK. The current season has been good overall and they’re sitting in third place in the Western Conference at the time of writing, behind only Los Angeles FC and Austin FC.
Argentine Emanuel Reynoso is arguably their most important player, and he has also been described by some people as the best player in the MLS. His clever play makes him a pleasure to watch, and his assists record is as good as you’ll see in the league.
Finnish forward Robin Lod became the franchise’s leading goal scorer in the LS recently, when he scored his 22nd goal. The versatile midfielder signed a new three-year contract with Minnesota, so you can enjoy watching him play there for a while longer.
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) August 22, 2022
Chicago Fire FC
Another relatively local option for Iowans, Chicago Fire has been playing in the Eastern Conference of the MLS for the last 20 years. They were one of the league’s most successful teams in the first years of the MLS and attracted some big names from world soccer to the city.
You can watch their home games at Soldier Field, where they returned for the 2020 season after some nomadic years where their performances suffered. This coincided with a period of upheaval as the team was radically changed and the franchise got a new look too.
In terms of the fans, expect to see the sort of enthusiasm and passion that we’ve become used to seeing from teams based in Chicago, with frequent tifo presentations. Sparky is their mascot, and he’s a Dalmatian who is usually dressed like a firefighter.
There isn’t a single clear rivalry for Chicago fans, although FC Dallas and DC United are among the teams that they’ve had heated clashes with in the past. They currently sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference, with a winning streak making them start to believe in the chance to return to the playoffs.
Young goalkeeper Gaga Slonina is close to completing a big money move to Chelsea in the English Premier League just now, and it’ll be interesting to see how much of the club record deal is used to improve the roster for next season.
Swiss international forward Xherdan Shaqiri is their top scorer to date this season and arguably their most important player. His signing was seen as a genuine coup for Chicago and the MLS, as he has had a glittering career in Europe and at 30 years old is at his peak.
Un día de s☀️l y de fútb⚽️l siempre es bueno. pic.twitter.com/toShjpsSnq
— Chicago Fire FC (@VamosFire) August 21, 2022
It might not be as close to Iowa as some of the MLS teams we’ve looked at, but this franchise has firmly established itself as the most popular in the league. They’ve been around since the mid-1990s and play in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles Galaxy is one of the most successful franchises in MLS history and they’ve also enjoyed a series of different rivalries as other teams have come and gone over the years. Among their most exciting moments were the high-profile signings of stars like David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Robbie Keane.
Right now, Galaxy has agreed to sign Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig and they’ll be hoping that he helps them to climb from their present position of 8th place in the Western Conference, which is led by their rivals Los Angeles FC.
Serbian forward Dejan Joveljić and Mexican Javier Hernández are their top scorers this season. They’ll need to keep their best players fit if they’re going to do better than last season when they missed out on a playoff spot in heartbreaking fashion right at the death.
Galaxy has one of the strongest rosters in the MLS but the fact that they’ve been struggling shows us how much the quality overall in the league has improved in the last few years. Their support is well organized, with the Angel City Brigade and the LA Riot Squad adding color and noise to the games.
Tis the GALAXSEA-son 💙🤍💛
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 23, 2022
New York City FC
Another of the most popular franchises in the MLS, the team from New York won the LS Cup in 2021 and they’re part of the City Football Group that also owns the New York Yankees and Manchester City.
Their history only began in 2015, but they quickly began to gain support. They’ve moved about in terms of stadiums, but their key rivals are still New York Red Bulls, making the Hudson River Derby one of the most exciting in the league.
The Third Rail is their biggest group of supporters, and there has been a growing sense of rivalry with the Red Bulls that have marked their most recent derbies. This season, New York City is sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference, just behind Philadelphia Union and a couple of places ahead of the Red Bulls.
Valentin Castellanos has been one of their top players for the last few seasons but they need to do without him now, with the Argentine forward joining Girona in Spain. This has been a problem as he was their main scoring threat last season and hasn’t really been replaced.
This leaves the likes of Uruguayan Santiago Rodriguez to provide the creativity that they need to make it another successful season. Thiago Martins was their big signing in the offseason, with the center back joining from Japanese soccer and replacing James Sands, who went to Europe on loan.
— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) August 21, 2022
Can the Des Moines Menace Join Them?
Perhaps the big question for soccer fans in Iowa is whether Des Moines has a chance to join these popular franchises in the MLS in the near future. Could a successful season or two see them gain entry to the MLS?
Well, despite there being several levels to the American soccer leagues, there is no promotion or relegation between them in the way that there is in European soccer. While fans of football and basketball will be familiar with this system, anyone used to watching soccer from elsewhere might have expected the Menace to have a chance of moving up if they perform well.
It seems that their only chance of reaching the MLS would be if one of the existing teams ran into problems and an expansion team was needed to replace them. This doesn’t appear to be something that’s going to happen soon, and even if it does there’s no guarantee that the team from Iowa would be chosen to join the top league.
Therefore, the choice at the moment is to follow Des Moines in the lower league or else choose one of the MLS teams. Of course, a big soccer fan might decide to support their local team and also pick an MLS team, which would give them plenty of chances to follow the action.
Thank you Menace fans! 👏
100+ teams in USL2 and last nights attendance was the highest in 2022.
— Des Moines Menace ⭐️⭐️ (@MenaceSoccer94) July 30, 2022