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.
The great thing about MLS taking a near-full slate of Wednesday night games and calling it a “week” is that I get to post this great moment from 30 Rock:
The downside is that I’m a bit of a hack and I can foresee reusing this GIF a couple of more times this season. I’m looking forward to 2023 when we’re past the twin scourges of a pandemic and World Cup in November and December, and the schedule can return to a little bit of sanity of entirely weekend games with a few midweek games thrown in as a little treat.
Our heroes did not play in Week 28, so they got to put their feet up and watch most of the rest of the week and most of the rest of the Western Conference play. And while it was not fun watching all of the other playoff hopefuls — Nashville, Salt Lake, Portland, and the Gals — all win their games, it was absolutely hilarious to watch every team in FCD — LAFC, Austin, and Minnesota — all lose in fashions that were each lovely in their own way. Such is the duality of life.
Minnesota vs. FCD (Univision, 2:30)
On the show Portlandia, they once did a stop-motion animation sketch about how squirrels were essentially rats with better self-image and better PR. They’re both rodents, but why do people love squirrels and hate rats. Fluffier tails, more outgoing personalities, and better self-image.
I have the same feelings about Canada geese and loons. Canada geese are the worst. They are aggressive, if you happen to encounter them as they’re walking around in the park or wherever they will not defer to you as a member of a species that is higher on the evolutionary ladder, they drop their noxious shit everywhere, and they are otherwise the biggest assholes of all the waterfowl in North America.
Meanwhile, the loon has a much better image. Sure, its name is used to describe a crazy person, but it as a species has overcome that. It is beloved. It is the state bird of Minnesota. Its likeness appears on the Canadian one-dollar coin — NOT the aforementioned waterfowl that actually has “Canada” in its name.
And it is the nickname for Minnesota’s Major League Soccer team.
But the loon is essentially a Canada goose with better PR. (All the ornithologists out there are going crazy at this point.) And FCD needs to treat Minnesota on Saturday like one should treat Canada geese: By shooting them down… with golazos.
Columbus vs. Chicago (ESPN+, 4:30)
Back in Ye Olden Days of Major League Soccer, this was quite a rivalry. They were the only two Midwestern teams in the league, Chicago actually won stuff back then and was considered a model team in this league, and Columbus was pretty good, but just couldn’t get over the hump. Chicago had a big, diverse fanbase that reflected the diversity of its city, and Columbus was derided as a fourth-rate cowtown.
What a difference 20 years makes, I guess.
This column loves to see bad things happen to the Chicago Fire, but it also loves to see bad things happen to Caleb Porter, who has managed to piss off a large segment of the Crew fanbase less than two years after winning MLS Cup. What an achievement.
Seriously, if FCD ever wins MLS Cup, I’m sure that Buzz, Peter, and I will volunteer to help build a statue to honor the coach who finally does it.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: A dreadful 0-0 draw, because I really want to see Porter shoot double birds at the Columbus fans who are lustily booing him as he walks off the field.
New York vs. Philadelphia (ESPN+, 6:00)
Here’s the stupid thing about MLS on TV: This is absolutely a game that I am going to watch on Saturday night and that most fans of this league would want to watch. It should be a compelling game between the team that is top of the East and the one in 3rd.
After stomping three straight teams under the playoff line, Philly gets to play one with something resembling competence! And New York and Philly are big markets! This is the sort of game that is ALWAYS a national telecast during NFL season, either in the late afternoon timeslot or on Sunday Night Football.
But not MLS. We’ll get to MLS’ big national English TV game in a moment, but if you’re an MLS fan outside of New York or Philly, you gotta shell out for ESPN+ like you’re some degenerate Allsvenskan fan.
Yeah, no shit that MLS TV ratings suck. Can’t be havin’ good games like this where people will actually see them.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly, because I don’t want to see LAFC or Austin have nice things and because I derive great amusement at how awful the Red Bulls are at home, despite being a good team.
Cincinnati vs. Charlotte (ESPN+, 6:30)
Did you know that both of these cities refer to themselves as the Queen City?
I once lived 90 minutes from Charlotte so I know that it was named for the Queen of England while King George III — yes, THAT King George — was on the throne.
OK, that makes sense, but Cincinnati? I had no idea so I went and looked on Wikipedia. It’s apparently something derived from a line in an 1854 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem where he refers to Cincy as “the Queen of the West.”
Since I’m no great fan of poetry, that doesn’t really speak to me. On that Wikipedia page, I found a link to the following paragraph from Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912, Volume 2 by Charles Frederic Goss:
I’m sorry, but y’all had Porkopolis as a nickname and you willingly eschew that for “the Queen City”? C’mon now!
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincy, because I am a much greater fan of pork and pork products than I am of royalty.
Nashville vs. Austin (ESPN+, 7:30)
Nashville’s last three games: 4-0 win vs. FCD, 3-0 win at Vancouver, 4-1 win vs. Colorado. They’ve decided to stop screwing around and now they’re a point behind FCD. And since that point separates 4th place, who gets a playoff home game, and 5th place, who doesn’t, it’s pretty clear that they cannot get anything out of this home game.
Sadly for FCD fans, that home game is against our little brothers down I-35. Under ordinary circumstances, I would call this the “There Are No Winners Here” Game of the Week, but there has to be a winner and that winner cannot be the team that so generously provides a home for our old friend Dax McCarty in his golden years. (Sorry, Dax.)
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: [Very deep mournful sigh] Austin.
Portland vs. Atlanta (Fox, 4:30)
My own personal theory as to why so many soccer fans in the country are so down on MLS is because MLS has had a bad habit of scheduling games like this for national TV, between two not-very-good teams.
Oh sure, we know why they did it: Portland’s usually competent, and Atlanta has won an MLS Cup and an Open Cup in recent memory. And hey, put it at Providence Park, which is always sold out for Timbers games. But at best, it’ll be the fourth or fifth-best game of the weekend. Hey, they could’ve done worse.
But while I will not make jokes about the terrible stories coming out of Portland over the last year — note the use of the plural “stories” here — I will say that they are a very good and valid reason to hate the organization which owns both the Timbers and the Thorns, and to their credit, the Portland fans feel that way too, and since yet another story came out this week that owner Merritt Paulson knew about the allegations against former Thorns coach Paul Riley long before they came to light, expect to see Timbers fans make their feelings known.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Atlanta, because while I love schadenfreude at seeing their fall, the entire Timbers and Thorns organization deserves absolutely nothing good in the world for being so thoroughly gross from Paulson all the way down. And oh yeah, a Portland loss is good for FCD.
DC United vs. Colorado (ESPN+, 6:30)
Most weeks, this would be a stone-cold lock for Bumfight of the Week. After all, DC United stinks and Colorado stinks. I’d get off some Wayne Rooney jokes, some jokes about how the Colorado Rapids are a garbage team that plays downwind from a huge refinery in the worst part of the Denver metro area, and just call it a day.
However, credit where credit is due: DC got off the mat this week, and got a road win against NYCFC, so I’m gonna cut them a break. (OK, it wasn’t Yankee Stadium, so it wasn’t really “home” for NYCFC, but all the tarps at Red Bull Arena were light blue, at least.) So no Wayne Rooney jokes this week.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: DC United, because the Colorado Rapids are still a garbage team that plays downwind from a huge refinery in the worst part of the Denver metro area and I like to see them lose.
Toronto vs. Montreal (ESPN+, 6:30)
Since I’m a washed Gen Xer, I like to keep things old-school. I like Golden Age hip-hop, the Atari 2600 was my game console of choice, Michael Keaton is my Batman, and I like to see teams keep their traditional uniforms.
Because of this, I appreciate that Toronto FC has decided to have a throwback season in 2022 to honor their team’s roots. You know, back they’d spend a ton of money on players and still manage to bring up the rear in the Eastern Conference.
Everybody had forgotten the old ways with this streak of competence that they had for several years, but I’m glad that Bob Bradley and their Toronto Maple Leafs ownership have brought them back to throw a bone to the Gen X and Geriatric Millennial fans.
Those fans are gonna get treated to a rivalry game against the team that decided for no reason to do the exact opposite of TFC and piss off their fans by getting rid of a branding from the year 1993 that didn’t involve the color teal.
But since Montreal is good this year, they’ll be able to keep “party like it’s 2009” vibes going at BMO Field.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, because I normally root for draws in other teams’ rivalry games so as to insure that everyone goes home mad and because few things are funnier than a team spending the GDP of a developing nation on players and still getting about one point a game and being near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
LA Galaxy vs. Kansas City (UniMás/TUDN, 7:00)
This game would’ve been a lot less interesting to me three weeks ago, but now, the Galaxy look like they are the LA team that made a smart midseason signing in Riqui Puig and Kansas City have actually started showing some competence having won three out of the last four, and are no longer in last place in the Western Conference.
Both of these teams have something to feel good about, which I hate. Thankfully, they’re both below the playoff line, which I like. So I’ll go ahead and call this one the “There Are No Winners Here” Game of the Week.
We as FCD fans don’t want the Galaxy to win because they are five points behind our heroes, with two games in hand, and we as FCD fans don’t want Kansas City to win just on general principle.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw.
New England vs. NYCFC (ESPN+, 7:00)
Coming into Wednesday night, New England had managed to blow 26 points this year from a winning position. I’m proud to report that they fixed that against Chicago… by not getting a lead in the first place. Thankfully for them, they also did not let Chicago score, so everyone went home happy from Gillette Stadium with a nice, tidy 0-0 result, and they remain one of the Schroedinger’s Playoff Teams in the Eastern Conference who are both in and out of the playoffs and you don’t know which they are until you look at the standings.
Speaking of Gillette Stadium, when I saw that this game is being played at Gillette Stadium, I had to check briefly who the home team was. If it seems like I’ve been making a lot of jokes about NYCFC’s not actually playing at Yankee Stadium, there’s a reason. NYCFC’s last game at their nominal home of Yankee Stadium was July 23. Their next home game at Yankee Stadium will be on September 17, 11 games later. During that time, they will have played two home games at Red Bull Arena, a home game at Citi Field, and seven road games, including this one.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: New England, because honest to God, NYCFC is an utter joke of a team.
Seattle vs. Houston (ESPN+, 8:00)
The Bumfight of the Week, y’all! I cannot tell you how much of a joy it brings me to write that line about this game.
First of all, it always brings me great joy to write “bumfight” about any game in which the Houston Dynamo are playing. But more than that, it brings me great joy to write that when the other team is the Seattle Sounders.
What’s even better is that since Seattle is the home team for this game, ESPN+ will most likely carry the Seattle broadcast for this game. And buddy, you will never, ever see a turd being shined as earnestly as the shameless homers on the Seattle broadcast are gonna do it on Sunday night. They’re gonna get a message from North Korean state media telling them to ease up on the propaganda.
But let me say something nice about the Houston Dynamo for a change. I didn’t want them to win against LAFC, because, well, I never want them to win. But I clearly, clearly underestimated the comedic potential of their win against LAFC. And that game delivered the comedy in bunches, as LAFC managed to hit every part of Steve Clark body with a shot, but not get one past him late in the match. Gareth Bale has scored in the UEFA Champions League, but not on the Houston Dynamo.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, because neither of these teams deserves to win anything.
San Jose vs. Vancouver (ESPN+, 8:30)
Even though this is not the last game of the weekend, it is the last one I am writing about, simply because these two teams are playing out the string.
Vancouver may not think that they are, but they are. They’re five points out of a playoff spot, four points behind the next team in front of them, and a -17 goal differential. If I’m gonna throw dirt on Seattle, who’s only a point behind them, I’m certainly going to throw dirt on them.
Meanwhile, I think that San Jose was eliminated from playoff contention somewhere around Mother’s Day.
So yeah, there’s absolutely no reason for any MLS fan outside of San Jose and Vancouver to watch this. Maybe if you’re Luchi Gonzalez or if you’re a member of the Cade Cowell Fan Club, but anyone else? Save your time. Watch Seattle-Houston, then switch over to LAFC-RSL. And that commentary on the general irrelevance of this game is the meanest thing I can say about it.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: That you not waste your time with this nonsense.
LAFC vs. Salt Lake (ESPN+, 9:30)
The thing I love most about LAFC is their lack of self-awareness. On Wednesday, just before they played Houston – while riding a two-game win streak – they tweeted out the following:
Now, this is a hell of a thing to tweet out under most circumstances, but especially when you’ve got two other teams hot on your tail for the Supporters Shield.
Most Dallas sports fans remember the victory parade plans that leaked out of City Hall during the 2006 NBA Finals, in which the Mavs were leading 2-0.
But LAFC tweeted this out, obviously unaware that lots of things can happen while you’re chasing history. Like you can lose 2-1 to one of the worst teams in the league, which they did, and now they have 57 points with six games remaining.
But on Sunday night, they must win, because they are playing Real Salt Lake, who are one point behind with one game in hand. So resume chasing history, Sons of Chivas USA. Chase that second trophy ever.
Do not be deterred by all those players on the other side of the field with that dawg in them.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: LAFC, because while I like seeing them lose, I like seeing FCD remain in front of the teeming masses even more than I like that.