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.
In the last week, FCD has played essentially a match and a half. They played a full match and lost to Nashville. It’s rough for Nolan Norris that as an 18-year-old, in his second professional game, managed to put in an own goal which was the difference between FCD and Nashville. But hey, look on the bright side, kid. You’re a professional soccer player. You’re living the dream. Most of the rest of society, when they’re 18 years old, they’re not doing that.
And on Wednesday, they played 40 minutes and got a nice tidy 2-0 win. Work smarter, not harder, I guess. Jesús Ferreira got a goal and an assist and is tied for the goal-scoring lead with 10 goals, and when you add in his two assists, has had a role in more than half of FCD’s 21 goals this season. Surely that makes him a prime candidate for league MVP, right?
Huh, I guess not in the eyes of the Major League Soccer soccer dot com writers. Surely, they have solid reasoning for their Ferreira Amnesia…
Hard to argue with xG, I guess.
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union (MLS Season Pass, 9:30)
The Luchi Gonzalez “2021 wasn’t really my fault” tour keeps chugging along in San Jose. It’s amazing how much smarter a coach looks when the team buys him a terrific defensive midfielder right before the season, instead of selling his only competent defensive midfielder. Just speaking hypothetically, of course.
But the turnaround he’s a part of in San Jose is impressive, and because the universe occasionally has a sense of humor, perpetually-fourth-win-lose-or-draw FC Dallas would meet perpetually-fifth-win-lose-or-draw San Jose if the season ended today.
And he’s gotten his team into the super-prestigious SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO slot this week, which as we all know is what every team in Major League Soccer is really aiming for.
The other reason why they’re in it is that they’re facing the Philadelphia Union, who seem to have taken over for the Red Bulls in being perpetually on top of the Eastern Conference and not spending very much money to do so.
It’s utterly ridiculous. According to everyone’s favorite Tableau addict, Steve Fenn, who compiled the data from the MLSPA, Philly is 23rd out of 29 in payroll in 2023. Even FCD is higher:
But instead, we’ll probably get Jesse Marsch, who has been delightfully unimpressive outside of New York and Salzburg.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly. And if you told me 20 years ago that I’d be saying all these nice things about someone whom I thought was a big doofus when he was playing center back for the Fire, I would’ve given you a thousand-yard stare.
Little Brother Game of the Week
Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC (Apple TV+ free game, 7:30)
Our friends in downtown LA have not had a very good week. First, they bring a mere 2-1 deficit into the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Final back to the friendly confines of
Banc of California BMO Stadium, and… get beat 1-0 at home by León. Wow, if only you had a Mexican forward who was especially motivated to perform well in the final of a continental competition against a club from his home nation. Wouldn’t that be something?
Next, they return to league action on Wednesday night, again at home, and have shots hit every part of Brad Guzan’s body, but don’t actually get one past him as they were held to a 0-0 draw against Atlanta.
Oh well. At least they’re still tied for third place in the West. And hey, they’ve got lots of games in hand on everybody around them in the table! Yeah, about that…
The problem with having games in hand is that you actually have to play them. And MLS didn’t extend the season for them, although I’m sure that some suit in New York would say, “Hey, now that’s not a bad idea…” and as a result, starting last week, they’re playing two games a week until the middle of July.
That’s 13 games in seven weeks. By the time FCD sees them at Toyota Stadium on July 1, they’ll be shambling along like zombies, hoping for Rick Grimes or Daryl Dixon to come along to dispatch them.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. But I’m sure if they stagger under the weight of this schedule, there’ll be plenty of Major League Soccer Soccer dot com writers to shed crocodile tears for their plight.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. I mean, I’ve got no love for LAFC, but I have even less for the Houston Dynamo.
“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Atlanta United vs. DC United (MLS Season Pass, 6:30)
I’ve made a few jokes about Wayne Rooney, but credit where credit is due: DC United has been somewhat competent with him in charge. They’re in seventh place, above the playoff line. Now that isn’t the highest of bars, and they’re still closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference than the top, but hey, a lot of (imagine finger quotes here) “real coaches” haven’t managed to do that, either.
And while no one watching them is ever going to confuse them with the Bruce Arena-Marco Etcheverry of the earliest years of MLS, they’re at least respectable, which is something that you couldn’t say about so many of their teams of the last decade. The most amazing thing, to be honest, is that the two coaches who presided over all those non-playoff appearances are currently employed in Houston and Montreal.
Speaking of amazing things, DC’s opponent on Saturday, Atlanta United did something truly amazing on Wednesday night by shutting out LAFC. This was a feat that Atlanta had only accomplished three other times this season: against Charlotte, the Red Bulls, and Colorado, who have scored 22, 11, and 14 goals this season.
To say that Atlanta’s defense has been leaky would be a bit of an understatement. They’ve given 28 goals in 17 games. They’ve give up three goals or more on six different occasions this season. Brad Guzan is starting think that he has hair and is playing for Chivas USA again. If you’re not scoring on Atlanta United, you better be dead or in jail.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: DC United. I don’t like to use the word “long-suffering” about fans of a club that has lots of actual trophies in its trophy case, but they should enjoy this game as a little treat.
Bumfight of the Week
Look, if you can look at this week’s game and show me the bumfight, I’ll send you a nice thank you note because I can’t find one. All the crummy teams are playing good teams this week and I’m not renaming this slot to the “Snuff Film of the Week.” I almost went with SKC-Austin for this slot, but while calling that a bumfight would be funny just because it’s SKC and Austin, Austin’s actually in a playoff spot and SKC isn’t running around with their pants around their ankles anymore.
So I’ll do what I did last week and talk about a team that’s gonna get their teeth kicked in this weekend in New England, Inter Miami. I’m not one of these people who’ll say “[League name] needs a good team in [market]” or “[League name] is better when [team] is good.” Those sorts of statements are horsecrap. Leagues rise and fall based on all their members, not just a few glamour teams.
But really, it would be good to see how South Florida would respond to a consistently good, well-marketed team. The Fusion back in the day were mostly crummy, didn’t spend any money, didn’t draw any fans, and were not surprisingly kept around when MLS contracted in 2002.
You thought it might be different with Inter Miami, with David Beckham as the public face of ownership. And with him at the top, you think that they’d be able to attract some star players. And with all due respect to Gonzalo Higuaín and Blaise Matuidi, they just weren’t able to capture people’s imaginations, especially when the team around them wasn’t very good.
And not surprisingly, the crowds at Son of Lockhart Stadium haven’t been fabulous. I feel like South Florida could be a great market for Major League Soccer, but to date, Major League Soccer just hasn’t captured the market’s imagination.
But it would be nice to see what would happen if a local team ever did something noteworthy.
Good Guys Game of the Week
Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas (FS1, 9:00 on Sunday night)
FC Dallas once again is in the role of MLS nightcap on FS1 this week after being in that role a few weeks back in Minnesota. As you might recall, that game ended 0-0 and went more or less how one would expect a 0-0 game to go.
Everything about this team is annoying:
- They’ve knocked FCD out of the playoff multiple times in the last decade
- They’ve employed two preening schmoes — Caleb Porter and Giovanni Savarese — as head coaches in their history
- Diego Chará is currently in his 13th season of pretty much skating away from any sort of punishment for his gratuitous hackery.
- Timber Joey
- The only time FCD gets on national TV, it’s to play these clowns at some annoying non-Saturday nighttime
- Timbers Army, who are committed to making Portlandia look like a documentary series
- They gave us John Strong, who has been a plague on American soccer broadcasting, and who’s mostly known for reading out of the FCD Media Guide on the once-a-season occasion that he calls an FC Dallas game.
Are they a rival? Nah. I don’t look forward to this game the way I do with Houston. They are, at best, a pain in the ass.
The most annoying thing about the Portland Timbers is the fact that when Jesús Ferreira scores a hat trick on them, unserious dopes on the East Coast like the writers at Major League Soccer soccer dot com will fail to notice because it’s past their beddy-bye times.