On Thursday, July 11, 2019, ESPN released its 5th edition of the MLS Player Poll. The poll, which was introduced back in 2015, features questions on a variety of topics, both related and unrelated to the game. This year’s MLS Player Poll is the first time where all 24 clubs had someone interviewed, which made for 128 total responses.
The first section on MLS’s Player Poll focused on downtime. Questions in this section address what players like to do after wins, social media activity, their ideal way to spend time with their significant other, and favorite video game.
The first question relates to how players rewind after a victory. According to the poll, most players unwind with a cold one as 26% of players stated that they drink after a win. 24% of players head home or celebrate with family. In regard to family, one player said, “I celebrate at home with my family: my kids really help put it all in perspective”. 24% of players also celebrate with teammates and head out on the town. 16% stated that they unwind after a win with a nice dinner. Lastly, 10% of players unwind by relaxing, sleeping, and recovering.
The next question focuses on players social media presence. The second question ask if participants had a secret twitter account. 92% of players said that they did not have a secret Twitter account. 3% did not hold back as they acknowledged that they had a secret Twitter account. On the other hand, 2% pleaded the 5th as they declined to comment on the matter. 2% stated that they did not have a twitter account in general. Less than 1% of participants used to have a secret account. Less than 1% had a secret account on another social media platform. When asked a player said “Nope. I tweet what I want”.
The poll then shifted to personal manners as the poll asked players whether they preferred a night out or Netflix & chill. 50% said they preferred a night out while 45% said they prefer Netflix & chill. 5% of participants preferred both a night out and Netflix & chill. One player argued for Netflix and chill because “Netflix. Going out is expensive. I’m a low-key guy, it fits my personality.”.
ESPN would then go on to see what players thought about video games. The 5th question asked if players preferred FIFA or Fortnite. A staggering 63% said they prefer to play FIFA while 29% said they prefer Fortnite. 5% said that they didn’t prefer either or play video games and 3% said they prefer another game. One player’s polled said “Fortnite because I’m doing too much soccer already.”.
The next section, titled work matters, asked participants their opinions on the rest of the league. Questions in this section focused on travel, pregame, kit appearances, and even asked their opinions on the newly instated playoff format.
The first question asked what away opponent they dreaded the most. Topping off the list was our own New England Revolution who received 23% of votes. One anonymous participant stated “”The cross-country flights are pretty tough, but New England is the worst. The hotel is right next to the stadium and there’s nothing else to do around there. The fans aren’t the best, the field isn’t the best. Just the whole package I guess”. Harsh.
The rest of the poll follows with Houston at 12%, Columbus at 11%, Real Salt Lake at 7%, Orlando at 5%. Kansas City, San Jose, Dallas, Montreal, Vancouver, New York City (F.C. or Red Bulls), all tied with 4% of the votes. Minnesota, Toronto and Los Angeles (F.C. or Galaxy) and no comment tied with 3%. 2% said Seattle and Colorado. Finally, less than 1% said Philadelphia and Atlanta.
ESPN’s poll would then go on to learn more about player’s pregame rituals and superstitions. A staggering 43% said they did not have any pregame rituals or superstitions. 18% said they have the same meal and rituals. 17% stated that they wore the same clothing or pattern of getting dressed. One player said “None. I learned early on that if you start doing that, you’ll go crazy trying to remember everything. I do walk with my right foot on the pitch first, but that’s more out of habit.”.
The next question addressed which club had the best kit. First place was given to LAFC who had 26% of the votes. When asked about LAFC, one player said “LAFC. I like the bad boy look. They always look like the bad boys of LA, like the Raiders used to.”. Atlanta came in second with 16% of the vote. The bronze medal was given to Kansas City who received 13% of the votes.
Seattle received 11% of votes. F.C. Cincinnati received 6%. Orlando, Vancouver, and NYCFC received 5%. Portland would get 4%. The Red Bulls, Galaxy, Chicago, and Montreal received 2%. Real Salt Lake, D.C., Minnesota, and Toronto capped the list with less than 1%.
The next question asked players their thoughts on the newly instated MLS Playoff format. The new format seems to be a hit with the players as 68% said they loved the new format. 23% seem to have a neutral opinion on the playoff format. While 9% said they hate it. One opponent of the newly instated playoff format said “I don’t like it. I think that home and away is important so when you cut that short, I don’t think you’re going to get the best team necessarily winning.”.
ESPN’s poll would go on to bring up the idea of promotion and relegation in Major League Soccer. 64% of players said they would support promotion and relegation while 30% said no. 6% of players had no preference on the topic. One supporter said “Yes, 100 percent. I feel like it brings a lot more pressure. The competition will propel the sport even further in this country and the development. I think soccer should be more like the rest of the world in this country.”.
The next section of the poll focuses more on pop culture views of the players. Some topics include superhero’s, TV, and music.
The first question asks players what their favorite superhero is. Batman ranks at the top with 28% of the votes. Superman comes in second with 19% of the votes followed by Spider-Man who received 15% of the votes. Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, The Flash, and other all received 5%. Black Panther, Captain America, and Wolverine tied with 3%. Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Deadpool, and my parents tied with less than 1%. One player said “My Dad. He’s done everything for me.”.
TV was the next topic as the poll asked what shows players were binging. The MLS is full of Game of Thrones fanatics as the HBO show received 28%. The Office received 11%. Ozark and don’t watch TV tied with 5%. Stranger Things, The Wire, and Suits all received 2%. Finally, Other (with shows receiving one vote a piece) received 40% of the votes. One fan of The Office stated “‘The Office.’ It’s funny, it’s realistic. The humor is so subtle that every time you watch it you catch something new.”.
Music would be the next topic as players settled the score on their favorite rap artist. Canadian rapper Drake received the most praise as he received a staggering 72% of the votes. Kanye West came in second with 15%. On the other hand, 9% said neither and 4% said they preferred both artists. One Drake fan said “Drake, easy. Kanye’s losing his mind.”.
The next section would focus more on the players plate as food was the topic of this section. The first question would debate the classic burger against tacos. Burgers would come in first with 58%. Tacos would come in second with 48%. One player said he liked tacos because “I grew up in SoCal so I’m all about tacos. Carne asada is good.”. While 2% came to a common ground and said they preferred both tacos and burgers. One player would go on to say.
Players would then go on to list their preferred cheat foods. Baked goods came in first with 32% of the votes. Junk food would come in second with 27%. 20% listed fast food as their cheat food. 15% stated they had a sweet food as they named ice cream as their favorite cheat food. 6% said other as their cheat food. One player stated “Pizza. I’m from New York and it’s just my go-to if I’m going to eat like crap.”.
Now players would reveal their go-to food for before the game. 54% stated chicken, carbs, and veggies as their go to. Pasta would receive 18% of the votes. Fish, carbs and veggies would receive 11%. A chicken parmesan sandwich would receive 5%. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and eggs would receive 4%. 3% say soup is their go-to pregame meal. Finally, less than 1% said anything or had no preference.
I love polls like this because it gives us, the fans, to see what the players stand on topics related to the game and their thoughts on pop culture. It will be interesting to see next year’s poll with the addition of new clubs into the league. If you want to see more, head over to ESPN to see the results!