I’m Dustin “El Jefe” Christmann and I am an FC Dallas fanatic from Day One of the Dallas Burn. I’m also a hater. I used to yell mean, hateful things from the stands at the Cotton Bowl and Toyota Stadium, but now, I’m sharing my id with you to help guide you, my fellow FCD fans, in your enjoyment of Major League Soccer on TV.
First of all, this IS Week 28, right? That’s what MLS is doing, right? Calling it another week, even though it’s three days after Week 27 concluded, and three days before Week 29? They are? OK, cool. “Major League Soccer: We’re Not Bound By Your Antiquated Definitions of Weeks as Consisting of Seven Days!”
Hmmm… It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like the “This Stuff Kicks!” tagline that they used in the late ’90s. They might need to workshop it.
Anyway, it was not a good week for our heroes in red and blue. Not only did they blow a lead at home to RSL, things elsewhere went kind of badly for them.
Houston continued being useless, blowing a lead and losing to Minnesota, which allowed the Loons to jump ahead of FCD. Portland beat Seattle, which keeps Seattle down, but moved Portland closer to the playoffs. New England rolled over and showed its belly to the Galaxy. Nashville went up to Vancouver and beat the Whitecaps like they stole something. And last but certainly not least, the little brothers down I-35 got “the greatest win in club history” (Jon Champion’s words, not mine) over a team that didn’t even exist five years ago.
So now, FCD has dropped from third to fourth and would still get a home playoff game, but the comfortable distance between them and the braying masses that would like to take that home playoff game from them is no longer so comfortable.
It’s a good time for FCD to have the night off and to rest up for their trip to the Land of a Thousand Lakes on the weekend.
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta (FS1, 6:00)
Before this past weekend’s game between Philadelphia and Colorado, I wrote “Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly. Pretend you’re playing DC United again.” I’m not going to take credit for putting this energy into the universe, but the Union understood the assignment.
I also asked for a high-scoring draw between Atlanta and DC United, and while the universe did not deliver that, it did deliver a high-scoring game in which Atlanta made DC look surprisingly competent. And if they can do that for DC, just imagine what they can do for Philly!
But I love that MLS and its TV partners keep putting Atlanta games on national TV because much like Chip and Joanna Gaines have taught the nation new and innovative ways to use shiplap in their home improvement projects, John Strong, Stu Holden, and Alexi Lalas teach the nation new and innovative ways to polish a turd.
Seriously, fellas, I admire your efforts in using advanced metrics to make the Falcons’ more successful little brother seem competent, but “Number of Varsity locations near the stadium” is not an advanced metric.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly, hopefully by a big number, because I just enjoy that Atlanta has become DC United with fewer trophies and with fewer raccoons inhabiting its home stadium.
Columbus vs. Miami (ESPN+, 6:30)
Hell is Real had everything! A late equalizer by the Crew to steal a point from their rivals! Caleb Porter engaging in more than his usual amount of jackassery in winding up the Cincy fans! The Cincy fans taking the bait and throwing debris on the field! Caleb Porter also ripping his own teams fans! Pat Noonan bucking for a fine by complaining about the refs in the post-game presser! Good times, good times.
Since I don’t like it when good things happen to the preening schmo Caleb Porter, and since Inter Miami – our favorite MLS scofflaws – deserve something nice after giving the Red Bulls a rare home win on Saturday night, this one is easy.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Inter Miami, and hopefully, Porter manages to get Columbus fans to throw garbage at him. In fact, everyone should just throw garbage at him, just on general principle.
Montreal vs. New York Red Bulls (ESPN+, 6:30)
This is probably the game of the night in the Eastern Conference. Montreal is 2nd in the East, while the Fightin’ Energy Drinks are 4th.
I’ve made all sorts of jokes in the past couple of weeks about how garbage the Red Bulls are at home, but they got a home win on Saturday against Miami, so I guess I can lay off those jokes for a while. Besides, this game is in Montreal, home to the single worst, most unnecessary rebrand in North American soccer history.
That’s right, kids, since these teams are actually pretty good and not very hatable, and since this game has zero impact on FCD, I’m gonna riff on Montreal’s stupid rebrand.
Look, there was almost nobody that was clamoring for the Montreal Impact to rebrand. Was it the greatest name? No, but it was fine and it had been around since the APSL days of the early ’90s. The badge might’ve used a little freshening, but it did the job: It was a shield in the team’s colors, it had the team’s name, and there was a fleur-de-lis on it because they’re French Canadian. Mais bien sûr.
What nobody was asking for was changing the name to “CF Montréal.” It is literally the French version of the “FC” contagion that is spreading like a rash across MLS. (Yes, I know that our team is literally Patient Zero here.) And absolutely nobody was asking to change the logo to a stylized
Yes, we know you get a lot of snow up there. Big deal.
Everybody hated it, including the fans, who launched a petition to get rid of it. And since bullying sometimes works, they’ll have a new logo for 2023. But they still have the stupid name.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Red Bulls, because they at least managed to not screw up a rebrand, even if was done for dumb corporate branding reasons.
Holy crap, Montreal, your team is owned by the family which owns a huge dairy conglomerate, your stadium is named for that family and its dairy conglomerate, and they couldn’t even do something more clever “Club de Foot Montréal”? Sweet merciful crap. “Les Fromagers de Montréal” would’ve been better.
New England vs. Chicago (ESPN+, 6:30)
Tom Bogert tweeted this out on Monday:
Holy crap, Revs. That’s outrageous. 26? Hey, try not to drop any points on your way to the parking lot. (For all you millennials and zoomers out there, that’s a Clerks reference, since I’m a decrepit, washed Gen Xer. Go ask your parents.) That’s literally the equivalent of nine wins!
Anyway, if I didn’t have such a soft spot for the Revs (more about that another time), I’d be laughing at them right now.
Actually, I am laughing at them right now, but I feel a little bad about it. But not too bad. This ain’t the Sympathywatching Guide, you know, especially if you hire Bruce Arena as your head coach. He can stick up for himself. He can make excuses why his team is giving away points like Oprah gave away cars.
As far as their opponents, I don’t feel a little bad at all for the fact that they are ass. After all, they seem to have a commitment to remaining ass at all times.
Fun fact: In the last decade, the Chicago Fire has had more rebrands (2) than playoff appearances (1).
In fact, it’s 100% appropriate that they play at the home of the Chicago Bears since both teams seem to follow the same yearly cycle of “hopeful player offseason player signings, followed by crushing reality during the season.” It couldn’t happen to a nicer team.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: New England, because I genuinely enjoy seeing bad things happen to the Chicago Fire. Oh, excuse me, Chicago Fire FC. I can’t forget about that rebrand that y’all did.
Especially since it’s very necessary to prevent people from confusing you morons with the brave men and women of the Chicago Fire Department or the highly-rated TV show on NBC.
Orlando vs. Seattle (ESPN+, 6:30)
Seattle is in 10th place and four points out of a playoff spot! They just blew a lead and lost to their bitter rivals from Portland! They’re riddled with injuries! They’re down bad! They’ve pulled rabbits out of their hat before, but it’s looking pretty good that they’ll be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start.
The only thing that isn’t filling my black heart with joy about the 2022 Seattle Sounders? After winning CCL, Sounders fans aren’t that torn up about all this. Oh well.
And since MLS’ schedulers have a sense of humor, they get to go from Portland to almost the exact opposite corner of the country five days later for a game against Our Favorite Eastern Conference Team, who by the way are playing for their first piece of hardware next week. Their coach is pretty damn good.
It would be a damn shame if a team were to let him walk at some point and not back up the Brink’s truck for him and give him all the resources he needs. Glad we don’t root for anyone like that.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando by six or seven goals. Maybe Sounders fans are gonna be pretty mellow about how the season’s gone, but let’s have some temporary pain and suffering and embarrassment.
Toronto vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN+, 6:30)
Normally, I’m rooting against Toronto FC because it greatly amuses me that they’ve spent a ton of money on players on good players and name players whose ages still start with the number 2, and they’re still in 10th place in the East.
“But Dustin, these sorts of players are good for the league! More teams should show that sort of ambition!” I don’t give a damn about that! If you want to read those sort of horseshit, Grant Wahl will charge you to read his dumb Substack. And he won’t even help educate you on the finer point of the game, as Buzz will.
But not this game! I’ll be root-root-rooting for TFC because our old pals, the LA Galaxy, are coming to BMO Field! The Gals are six points behind FCD and they’ve got three games in hand. So while it’s always fun to watch them lose, it’s actually pretty necessary now.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Toronto, because there’s no better way to welcome Greg Vanney back to Toronto for the first time than with the traditional can of whoopass.
And plus, we always enjoy seeing the Galaxy lose. Are you kidding me?
NYCFC vs. DC United (ESPN+, 7:00)
There are a lot of lazy comedians out there who complain about “wokeness,” that you can’t make jokes about certain subjects, like homelessness. Personally, I think that if you’ve got any comedic talent, you don’t punch down, and don’t rely on cheap, lazy jokes, the world is your oyster.
And speaking of cheap, lazy jokes and homelessness, NYCFC will playing a home game at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday. And no, it’s not because the Yankees have a home game at Yankee Stadium. They’re not home until September 5.
So why are your defending MLS Cup champions playing a home game at their rivals’ home stadium?
Once again, thank you, Bad Bunny. I guess that the groundskeepers needed a week to turn the field over after that. Meanwhile, the Toyota Stadium crew will have the field playable after a football game the previous night.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: DC United, because NYCFC deserves to suffer for this absolute silliness.
Houston vs. LAFC (ESPN+, 7:30)
Here’s a reason why I don’t take most American soccer media seriously: Too many of them are glorified fanboys. If any single big-name player condescends to play in MLS, they can’t fall over themselves quickly enough to try to get interviews with that player, to proclaim that player’s new team to be a contender, and to proclaim that team to be a vanguard in the continued advancement of MLS. Player fit and team needs are secondary concerns.
We saw it clearly with David Beckham in his first couple of years. We’re seeing it with the Insigne and Bernardeschi in Toronto. And we’re seeing it with LAFC.
What was LAFC’s most consequential signing since they missed the playoffs last year? Kellyn Acosta.
Who is getting the most press? Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini, both of whom are best described as “special guest stars.” And they added both players to a team that was already humming along very nicely.
At no point did anyone in our soccer media ask if those players would actually help the team. They were too busy being fanboys.
And LAFC isn’t done trying to fix something that wasn’t broke, so I enjoy that LAFC is currently on a two-game losing streak, and normally I’d be rooting for more sweet, sweet schadenfreude.
But not on Wednesday, because they’re playing the Houston Dynamo, who sit at the bottom of the Western Conference and have only won once in the last 11 games.
And the Dynamo have been a shining example of “the American soccer media is dumb and is distracted by bright, shiny objects,” because there were many who thought that the Dynamo would be worth a damn because they signed Hector Herrera.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: LAFC, because c’mon, it’s always funny when Houston loses.
Nashville vs. Colorado (ESPN+, 7:30)
In this role, I appreciate teams who do dumb things and who get punished for them. And I appreciate it when those teams are the ones that have caused pain and suffering to the Dallas Burn and FC Dallas over the years.
So I love that the Rapids, on the heels of finishing on top of the West last year, decided that Kellyn Acosta was surplus to requirements. I love that they’ve been rewarded for it by sitting in 11th place in the West now and just got their brains beaten in by Philly 6-0 on Saturday night. Good job!
I don’t appreciate that FCD now needs a favor from them since Nashville is four points behind FCD and has a game in hand.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Colorado. I’m not proud of it.
Austin vs. Portland (ESPN+, 8:00)
I’ve had the good fortune to visit Venice. It’s a lovely place to visit. I’ve walked down the narrow streets, ridden boats on the canals, seen St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, and marveled that this city was built hundreds of years ago on marshes and became the commercial center of Europe for hundreds of years.
I’ve also been to The Venetian in Las Vegas. It is a lovely hotel and casino. You can ride a gondola for a few hundred yards in a canal that they built just off the Las Vegas Strip. It is a lovely artifice with Mediterranean styling and it is a nice place to spend a few days. But… it is not actually Venice.
For some reason, this comparison came to mind when contemplating this matchup between these two teams. One wears green, has tree-themed branding, plays in a decades-old stadium downtown, has built an amazing organic fan culture that stretches back almost 50 years, and has supporters who actively hate their ownership for some really good real-world reasons.
The other team wears green, has tree-themed branding, plays across the street from a shopping center in the burbs, and has fans who wouldn’t be caught dead at a soccer game before 2021 and who probably call their owner “Daddy.”
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, because I don’t like either team that much, and frankly, it would be delightful for Austin to drop two points at home to a team below the playoff line a few days after their biggest win in franchise history.
Salt Lake vs. Minnesota (ESPN+, 8:30)
No jokes here. Minnesota is right in front of FCD, Salt Lake is right behind, and both teams have two games in hand on FCD. If you’re an FCD fan, you really want both of them to lose, but since that isn’t possible, you want the next best thing.
I’m sure you can come up with some creative scenarios in which a win by either team would be good for FCD, but don’t outsmart yourself. You want both teams to each turn one of their games in hand on FCD into a single point.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, preferably one that has Minnesota working really hard and really wears them out three days before they play FCD.