The FCD Fan’s Guide to Hatewatching Matchday 20

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.

Musical accompaniment

Worst Season Ever Watch

Coach Nico Estevez can't believe what he's hearing, July 4, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)
Vaya con Dios, Coach.

Well, it finally happened. The book was finally closed on the Nico Estévez Era for FC Dallas on Sunday after a truly execrable performance in St. Paul on Saturday night. The team played with no urgency or spirit to try and get a win against a team that was missing at least half of its starters and its top scorers due to international call-up.

Tyler Terens and Kyndra de St. Aubin, Apple TV+’s English-language commentators, were particularly unforgiving for 90 minutes as they all but called FCD ruthless and toothless in a game that was unusually winnable for FCD. De St. Aubin’s disgust was barely concealed in the dying stages of the game when FCD — as they have spent so much time this season — was idly passing the ball around with little apparent intent to press the issue.

It was at that point that I remembered something that Buzz said about the Hunts. They don’t like to be publicly embarrassed. They canned Steve Morrow in May 2008 — I repeat, May 2008 — after the Gals came into Pizza Hut Park and trucked FCD 5-1. And I thought to myself while listening to the brutal-but-fair commentary, “Oh God, this might be what gets Nico canned.” On America’s favorite soccer podcast, 3rd Degree the Podcast, Peter claims to have not watched the game later after seeing the stats, but Peter, you might want to check it out just for the commentary.

Don’t know if it was that commentary specifically that got Nico fired, but I am reminded of a lyric from the mighty Mos Def in his 1999 track “Mathematics”:

Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret:
The million other straws underneath it, it’s all mathematics

It was just the latest in a string of putrid displays that has stretched back to 2023, and as a result, Nico Estévez ends his time in charge with the second shortest tenure as the permanent head coach of FC Dallas, with the shortest being Morrow’s.

2024 – 3 wins, 8 losses, 5 draws, 14 points
2003 – 3 wins, 9 losses, 4 draws, 13 points


New York City FC vs. Columbus Crew (Apple TV+ free game, Friday at 6:30)

I’ve never liked Friday night games. I haven’t liked them on the various occasions that MLS has had them over the years. They first tried them in 1997 after observing that a lot more people turned out on weekends than they did on Wednesday and Thursday nights. So what they did was have teams play on Friday, then Sunday.

And it would’ve been OK if a team had been at home on both Friday and Sunday, but that was never the case. A team would’ve been at home on Friday night and then on the road on Sunday or vice versa, and it sucked. Teams were wiped out for the second game and the soccer suffered, especially in the height of the summertime when it was a million degrees in Dallas or a million percent humidity in Tampa.

And they’ve tried it a couple of other times over the years at the behest of TV partners, but it’s never felt right because it’s not really a weekend game.

But this game is the best one of the weekend and it’s on Friday night. I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve got a good idea. It’s at Yankee Stadium, BTW, and let’s check the Yankees’ schedule:

Image 12
A Yankees Passport Holder gets visa-free travel to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Somerset, Hudson Valley, and Tampa, I guess.

Gotta clean up before Daddy gets home in four days, I guess. Anyway, NYCFC is currently third in the East with 29 points and while Columbus is down in seventh with 24, they’re still the champs. But with the team currently on top of the East sucking all the oxygen out of the room, you probably didn’t know that.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Columbus

Little Brother Game of the Week

Colorado Rapids vs. Austin FC (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)

When FCD fired Nico Estévez this week, it inspired hope in jealousy in other fanbases going through crummy seasons, judging from their reactions to FCD’s tweet announcing the firing. You had Seattle (which honestly amazes me):

…Kansas City…
…but let’s not forget our pals down I-35, some of whom have been itching to fire Josh Wolff for years now:

And this should remind you that an unserious fanbase supports Little Brother Green. Some of their fans were itching to fire Josh Wolff in their expansion year! Don’t believe me? Check the receipts:

That is but a sample. I’m not exactly opposed to letting rivals continue to shoot themselves in the foot, so if Josh Wolff is a bozo, I support his continued employment. But at the same time, if you’re supporting an expansion team and your team does what an expansion team usually does, namely lose, the coach probably has a decent excuse. (Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go hide the 1998 Chicago Fire, the 2009 Seattle Sounders, and 2023 St. Louis City.)

And when FCD fired Nico Estévez for seriously challenging the 2003 team for the worst season in the 29 seasons this team’s been around, Little Brother Green found themselves in sixth in the West, five points ahead the non-playoff teams. Surely a fireable offense.

Like I said, completely unserious fanbase.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, because that’s what got our coach fired, right, Broccoli fans?

“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week

Philadelphia Union vs. Inter Miami (Apple TV+, 6:30)

Now, normally, I’m a little reluctant to feature Inter Miami in this column. Nothing against them, but let’s face it, everyone else in American soccer media is gonna you think-pieces on All Things Messi, all the way down to his transcendent performance in the Michelob Ultra ad. (Seriously, there has been nothing less believable ever than Lionel Messi ordering a Michelob Ultra. George Clooney is a great actor and he almost made me believe that he drinks Nespresso, but he couldn’t make me believe that he’d ever drink Michelob Ultra.)

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The face of a man who’s trying very hard to be credible in selling you Michelob Ultra

Just sayin’ that the ground’s a bit well-trodden. So why is this game here? Two reasons. First, have you seen the other Eastern Conference games this week? Second, because Inter Miami will not have either Messi or Luis Suárez or Matías Rojas, who will be with their respective countries for Copa América. Sure, they’ll still have Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, but if you have two of the league’s leading scorers on your team and they go away for a few weeks, that might be problematic.

And those players won’t be summering in Barcelona either. They’ll be playing for their countries in a major international tournament, playing every few days in really high-stakes matches. So not only are they gonna miss all those Inter Miami games during the tournament, but who knows how they’ll be when they get back?

Wow, it’s almost as if those of us who were skeptical that Inter Miami would win All The Trophies might’ve had a point.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly, because I know that their fans won’t beclown themselves the way that Vancouver fans did last month. They’ll beclown themselves in completely different ways.

Sickos Game of the Week

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Cincinnati (MLS Season Pass, 9:30)

A slightly surprising aspect to Nico’s firing is that he got fired before Luchi Gonzalez. The Earthquakes have been California’s biggest dumpster fire all season long and have spent almost the entire season in last place in the West, if not the entire league. 11 points and 39 goals allowed through 16 games is a pretty dismal reading. They are on their way to becoming one of the league’s all-time worst teams.

Now, is this all Luchi’s fault? Nah, not at all. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but his employers sold a key piece of his team before the season. Add to that losing his keeper, who was a 2023 candidate for GK of the Year, for the season and his backup’s not being very good, and well, here we are.

But at least Luchi’s Quakes don’t make your eyes bleed, the way that FCD has this season. They’ve put three on the board six times this season! And to be honest, that’s probably saving him… for now. Because people will tolerate losing if you at least entertain them. But I wonder if when the end comes the San Jose brass will be saying the same things as Dan Hunt was saying after he fired Luchi, that the team needed to be better on defense.

However, that’s a question for the future. For right now, let’s contemplate that Luciano Acosta is coming to town to face that defense.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincy.

Good Guys Game of the Week

FC Dallas vs. St. Louis City (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing FCD’s now-former coach here in this column, but it’s time to look to the future. For right now, Peter Luccin is The Man. Will he be The Man long-term? Who knows. I certainly don’t expect the Hunts to make Jürgen Klopp an offer he can’t refuse.

But it’s nonetheless a fresh new start, if for no other reason, Luccin is saying the right things about playing the young players. And if he’s serious about that, I applaud him. One of the worst failures of Nico Estévez’s tenure was his complete abandonment of the club’s DNA.

This club’s youth system has become an incubator of players who gone onto bigger and better things in big European leagues. Chris Richards, Weston McKennie, and Ricardo Pepi are on the USA roster for Copa América. Tanner Tessmann is captaining the Olympic squad and just helped Venezia get promoted back to Serie A. It would’ve been nice to have them on the FCD squad right now, but Pepi’s, Tessmann’s, Reggie Cannon’s, and Bryan Reynolds’ sales helped build FCD on and off the field.

But those sales happened because they got time on the field, something which hasn’t happened too much for FCD the last few years. While a bunch of eminently replaceable dudes kept turning in mediocre results, the backed-up pipeline produced a kick-ass North Texas SC team, which is not what we’re interested in.

So consider this my call for Peter Luccin, a guy who has a history with this club almost as long as Óscar Pareja’s, to return to the basics of what this club has been. St. Louis was the cradle of American soccer in the second half of the 20th century. Help keep Dallas the cradle of American soccer in the 21st.

Busca la forma.

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