As the second season of Ted Lasso comes to an end, it’s time to look back on which character put in the work; which one scored the most (metaphorical) goals; which one left the biggest mark on the (also metaphorical) pitch. It’s time to determine who deserves the Season 2 Golden Boot.
Just to be clear: This is not an endorsement of Nate or anything he did in Ted Lasso’s second season. His behavior, especially in the season finale when AFC Richmond was promoted back to the Premier League thanks to his implementation of a false nine, was reprehensible. (How dare he tear apart the “Believe” poster!)
But what made Nate’s heel turn so brilliant is how, whether fairly or not, he placed the blame on Ted’s shoulders. Having looked up to Ted as a father figure—while not getting much validation from his actual dad, it should be noted—Nate feels betrayed because he perceives that his tactical accomplishments with the team have been ignored. Indeed, the show has abandoned its focus on soccer this season, as if reflecting how Ted cares more about the people than the results. And, to play devil’s advocate for Nate, the on-pitch work is still pretty damn important when Premier League promotion is on the line.
In Ted Lasso’s worldview, what happened to Nate—even his increasingly graying hair, which Nick Mohammed likened to becoming José Mourinho (!)—appears to be the cost of success in a ruthlessly competitive environment, and in taking all the wrong lessons from Ted putting him in a position to succeed in the first place. (Of course, there’s also a lot of self-loathing going on, if Nate spitting at his own reflection wasn’t enough of a hint.) Nate’s arc is a feel-bad moment in what’s largely a feel-good show and, to borrow some wordplay from a different sport, that’s why it was such an effective curveball. —Miles Surrey
The second season of Ted Lasso is a tale of two assistants. On the one hand you have Nate, who let a shred of power consume him and completely ignored every lesson Ted has been trying to teach. On the other hand you have Roy Kent, who actively resisted Coach Lasso’s teachings until they simply became too irresistible to deny. (That this put Nate and Roy in constant conflict is not a coincidence.) Through Roy, we see all the good that can come from the Lasso Way: in Season 2 he becomes a real human being capable of teamwork, forgiveness, humility, and the sort of personal security it takes to become a Diamond Dog. He finds his true calling—both as the man behind a powerful woman, and the man on the sideline who can bring true greatness out of players he used to look down on.
Roy also was good for at least two to three belly laughs per episode in Season 2, and considering he’s played by a CGI creation—that’s pretty impressive. —Andrew Gruttadaro
Passion—whether related to matters personal or professional—can complicate things. Coach Beard struggled with his feelings for Jane this season, but it’s how he reacts to events on the pitch and what unfolds thereafter that should win him the MVP.
While the series has been defined by Ted’s eternal optimism and contagious positivity, that kind of anti-reality attitude can take you only so far—and it certainly can’t help you beat Manchester City. When AFC Richmond gets embarrassed 5-0 in the FA Cup semifinal, Beard reveals a specific kind of emotion that’s seldom seen on the show: anger.
“God fucking dammit,” he says, taking off his hat and slamming it to the ground.
“Come on now, Coach,” Ted replies. “It is what it is.”
“Yeah,” Beard sneers. “It is what it is.”
And with that, we are whisked away to Episode 9: “Beard After Hours.” His ensuing booze-fueled therapy adventure includes sneaking into an exclusive club, a brief but unfruitful flirtation with a woman, a daring rooftop escape from said woman’s flat in which Beard takes (literal) flight to avoid a beating at the meaty hands of her bruiser boyfriend, and an alley reunion later on with the bruiser boyfriend who saves Beard as he’s getting his ass kicked by Jamie Tartt’s dad and his hooligan pals. Through it all, Beard dances, flees, fights, drinks, hallucinates, and hula hoops his way through London on an evening that begins with him looking like this and ends with him looking like this.
That is a journey that will not soon be forgotten. And he pulled it all off while working a secret side hustle. —John Gonzalez
Sharon Fieldstone’s case for MVP comes down to a mix of modern analytics and old-school narratives. She enters the season in the first episode—after Dani Rojas tragically kills Earl the greyhound with a penalty kick—and puts up big numbers right away. She first meets with Dani to help rid him of the yips, and after his triumphant return to practice, Fieldstone is greeted by a line of players outside her office door. She eventually helps Colin realize he’s “a strong and capable man” and not a “piece of shit;” assists Jamie on his path to becoming a supportive teammate; and above all, gets Ted to work through the emotional trauma from his father’s death and deal with his anxiety and panic attacks.
She manages to do all of this while having a character arc of her own—and while seeing relatively little screen time! Dr. Sharon has a large role in about five of the season’s 12 episodes, but her fingerprints are on nearly every major story line. That’s some ridiculous efficiency for someone who wasn’t even involved in the first season. I guess it’s true what she repeats to Ted over and over again: Dr. Sharon really is great at her job. —Megan Schuster
In Season 2 of Ted Lasso, no character brought it like Sam Obisanya brought it. He made a stand against corruption in his home country, got his teammates to support the cause in an incredible show of solidarity, and was the hat trick hero in a win to keep AFC Richmond’s promotion chances alive on the field.
Off of it, though? WHEW.
Ignoring the obvious problems of Rebecca and Sam’s relationship, seeing Sam break out of his shell with her was one of the highlights of the season. Normally shy and reserved, Sam showed himself to be suave, spellbinding, and sparkling, which is something we rarely, if ever, saw beforehand. He takes all that newfound strength and when faced with the choice of becoming the face of another team or staying to fight for what he wants at Richmond, he chooses to stay. It’s a surprising turn for the character, but one that’s more than welcome. That’s why Sam Obisanya is the Golden Boot winner of Ted Lasso Season 2. —Jomi Adeniran