October 30, 2016

LINSEY | Top 10 Fandom-Worthy Teams

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Have you ever wanted to be a fan of the world’s most popular sport? Have you watched soccer and thought, “I would watch more soccer if only I had a favorite team?” If you answered yes to both of these questions, then this column is for you.

For the casual fan looking to get into the game, I’ll count down 10 teams from 10 different world leagues that are worthy of your fandom. Success will not be the only category; dedication of the team’s fan base, the club’s ideals and team history also factor into these rankings. Perhaps, this column might help a few of you find a new favorite soccer club.

10. FC Basel

This Swiss club is not from the country’s largest city, Zurich, or its capital, Bern. Yet, they have won their championship in seven straight seasons and have produced quality players like Mohamed Salah. They always seem to punch above their weight in European competitions.

9. Bordeaux

It is tough to find quality teams to be a fan of in France, but one could do much worse than Bordeaux. The team is the largest club in a classy French city, and their current squad features players like Diego Rolan, Jeremy Toulalan and Jaroslav Plasil.

8. Zenit St. Petersburg

Russian soccer gets a bad rep because of the politics and money in the game, but there is no denying that Zenit is a likeable team. The only major club in St. Petersburg, they regularly compete for silverware and employ Axel Witsel and Alexander Kerzhakov.

7. River Plate

The giant Argentinian club is named for a local river; in Spanish, it means “silver river” (not a dish in a creek.) They regularly produce some of the top Argentinian players; in particular, Lucas Alario is a River player who may be the next big star. They also have a major rivalry with Boca Juniors, which is one of the most intense soccer rivalries outside of Europe.

6. AS Roma

One of the two main clubs in Italy’s capital, AS Roma has a proud tradition of success. The team currently does not have a sponsor’s name on their jersey, which makes them more likeable. They also employ one of the most loyal players in soccer, Francesco Totti, who has played for Roma for 20 seasons.

5. Celtic

Like Basel, the Scottish club regularly dominates their league and competes well in Europe. What sets Celtic apart from other clubs that dominate small leagues is their dedicated fanbase and young talent. Mousa Dembele, a striker, and Kieran Tierney, a defender, are on the radar of many major European clubs.

4. New York City FC

The newest team on this list, NYCFC is only in their second season of soccer. Yet, the MLS club is already near the top of the standings, and their roster is an inviting mix of legendary talent and young players with potential. Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard boss the midfield, and future stars Tommy McNamara and Jack Harrison fly up and down the flanks. Plus, David Villa is one of the MLS’s leading goal-scorers with 23 on the season.

3. Atletico Madrid

The best Spanish team to root for is Atletico Madrid. While both top teams (Barcelona and Real Madrid) have their shortcomings off-the-field, Atletico is a top-class organization and soccer team. They have many excellent players, from Diego Godin to Antoine Griezmann, and one of the world’s top coaches, Diego Simeone.

2. Southampton FC

If you want to become a fan of an English soccer team, Southampton is the perfect choice. They have a proven track record of producing top talent and have established themselves in the English Premier League. Their exciting roster boasts talents like Charlie Austin, Nathan Redmond and Virgil van Dijk. “The Saints” seem to get better every year, and it’s no wonder that so many people are in that number when these Saints go marching in.

1. Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund recruited a number of promising young players this summer, from Emre Mor to Ousmane Dembele, to add to their star-studded roster. Their passionate fans make the Westfalenstadion one of the toughest stadiums to play at in Europe. Plus, it’s enjoyable to watch them strive every season to take down the typically dominant Bayern Munich. Simply put, if you are looking to be a fan of a soccer team, Borussia Dortmund is the best choice.