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.
There actually wasn’t going to be a Hatewatching Guide this week because FCD is off and I had assumed it was going to be that half the league was off due to the Gold Cup. You’d think I’d know better after following this league for 27 years. Is the league taking a break due to a continental tournament? Ha. They’re still getting used to the whole notion of “breaking for the World Cup.”
I then looked and realized that the league was in fact playing a full schedule this weekend and only FCD was off because somebody has to be off every weekend when you’ve got a league with an odd number of teams. Mea culpa.
Anyway, since we last visited, FCD has played two straight midweek games in Portland and Austin. I’d rather not talk about that, but injuries, suspensions, and callups finally caught up with them, and they got a 1-0 loss and a 3-0 loss. I don’t know about y’all, but when the Austin game was delayed for lightning, I was sort of rooting for it to be completely delayed until a later date when they didn’t resemble North Texas SC so strongly.
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
DC United vs. FC Cincinnati (Apple TV+, 6:30)
I’m featuring this game in this slot for one reason and one reason only: I had no idea a few months back that featuring this game in this slot in the middle of the season was going to be an option. But here we are. I love a good reversal of fortune story.
Cincinnati’s being in this slot is not such a huge shock, considering that they made the playoffs last year on the back of a really good second half of the season. But now? They’re just killing people for fun. They’re leading the Supporters Shield race and they’re eight points ahead of the nearest team. I can pull up stat after stat to show that they’re really, really good and fill this column with that. Suffice it to say that they’re no joke at this point.
Mind you, this is still a little disconcerting for me because I’m now middle-aged and having a harder time dealing with change than I used to. No, I’m not talking about some “Share this picture if you’ve ever used a phone book” shit from Facebook, I’m talking about Ye Olden Days of 2021 when they were completing the third of three straight Wooden Spoon seasons.
And you’re telling me that two short years later, they’re beating everyone like a drum and will likely have the Supporters Shield wrapped up with a month left in the season? This is truly the best league in the world.
As for their hosts on Saturday night, let’s just say that I thought that I was gonna be dipping into my stash of Wayne Rooney jokes more than I have. Is ninth in the East great? No, but it’s a playoff position, and it’s a dramatic improvement over the very bottom, which is where they finished last season.
So even though there’s the suspicion that Wayne took this job because he wants to get away from his wife who goes into physical withdrawal whenever her name isn’t in the tabloids and who has an inexplicable aversion to go-go music, half-smokes, and all things DMV, he’s making the most of it. He’s even the coach of the MLS All-Star team that’ll be taking on Arsenal — wait, I’m being told that it’s because Audi Field is hosting.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: DC. Good job on rising back up to “slightly competent.” Don’t start getting all imperious, the way you were in the ’90s.
Little Brother Game of the Week
Austin FC vs. Houston Dynamo (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)
While Big Brother’s away, the little brothers will play. This game is the epitome of hatewatching because you really don’t want either team to win and you want them both to lose. Look, we already know that the rooting pick is gonna be a draw because duh, so let’s talk some shit about both of them.
One thing that has gone woefully underreported is that Wednesday night’s win over North Texas SC and Special Guest Stars was Austin FC’s first-ever regular-season win over FC Dallas ever. Sure, you and I may look at it in the same way that a fan of a Big Euro Club looks at a game in which their club plays an offseason friendly against an MLS team, rolls out a lineup wearing jerseys with large numbers (like 47) and no names on the back, and gets their brains beaten in.
But it might be the second-biggest win in the illustrious history of Little Brother Green, behind of course their win over FCD in last year’s playoffs. I don’t know. I don’t really care. You’re a clown club in a clown city with clown fans and clown traditions. I cannot think of a single club in this league that I have less respect for. You’re Charlotte FC with more annoying fans.
But hey, props to them for having fans, unlike their opponents this week. While Little Brother Green whooping up on the FCD Reserves, Little Brother Orange was pounding Luchi and the Fightin’ Gonzalezes 4-1 in front of somewhat less-than-full
BBVA Compass BBVA PNC Shell Energy Stadium. Afterward, Hector Herrera had some things to say:
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. Hopefully, the tying goal is in stoppage time and makes the other team’s fans super mad.
“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Philadelphia Union vs. Inter Miami (MLS Season Pass, 6:30)
“This is gonna be a bloodbath, Dustin, why are you bothering with it?”
First, sometimes we all like to rubberneck when we pass an accident on the highway. Second, because as an educational service to you, the loyal Hatewatching Guide reader, I want you to see how awful of a team Inter Miami is.
“Yeah, we know. They’re dead last in the East.”
But here’s the deal: When was the last time that Lionel Messi was on a bad team? He’s been with two clubs in his professional career, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, both of whom spend more on players than the GDP of some small nations. If I wanted to, I could look to see the lowest spot any of his clubs have ever finished in his career. It would likely be fifth or sixth.
He and Sergio Busquets will be joining a club that is currently 27th out of 29 teams. They are not a middling club that is looking for the last piece or two to become a contender. They are not a club that has five other ways to kill you if you devote time and energy to stopping him. They are a bad club.
So when you’re watching the Union, whose entire salary bill over the last two or three seasons combined is less than what Inter Miami is paying Messi, slice and dice Inter Miami, also look at Inter Miami. Who’s gonna be serving the ball to Messi? Who’s gonna make you pay if you put two or three guys on Messi?
And think to yourself: Man, this is gonna be a whole new experience for Lionel Messi, playing with a bunch of donkeys. It’s gonna be fabulous.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly, because I enjoy watching the plucky upstarts beat the rich kids.
Bumfight of the Week
Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy (MLS Season Pass, 8:30)
We had to skip this entry the last few weeks because there just weren’t any games between two legitimately bad teams the last few weeks. But this week? Oh yeah, we’ve got one.
Do I like the fact that I can look at the schedule every week, look at who the Galaxy are playing, and see if that might be the Bumfight of the Week? No. I LOVE it.
Look, the Rapids’ being in this slot is in no way noteworthy. They’ve been a mostly crummy, cheap team for 27 years. If they’ve ever won anything, I’m not aware of it and I would rather not hear about any instances that might dispute that assertion. But even by their rather low standards, this season has been epically bad. They’ve won two out of the first 18 games and scored a grand total of 14 goals.
At some point, you gotta look at Robin Fraser and say, “Hmmm, he was in charge of some terrible teams at Chivas USA and now, he’s ended up in the same place again with Colorado,” and instead of suggesting that he fire his agent, one might look at his role in this. Just saying.
But back to the Galaxy. They have not been good all year long. Since Greg Vanney has a track record of winning stuff, he’s largely escaped scrutiny as president Chris Klein was made to walk the plank, but the entire team is gonna need to be flushed out. The first piece might’ve inadvertently flushed himself out, as Chicharito did his ACL and since he’s 35, it might be a career-ender.
And while I feel bad for Chicharito, I don’t feel bad for his teammates and their club, the undisputed overdogs of Major League Soccer for a quarter century. It’s like watching the third act of The Jerk, in which Steve Martin’s protagonist, having lost everything, is now wandering the streets with his pants around his ankles, holding on to his few last remaining possessions. (Sorry if I spoiled the movie for anyone.)
In the Galaxy’s case, it’s the five stars on their shirts that they’re holding onto as they wander through their Major League Soccer schedule with their pants around their ankles. But it is no less amusing to watch goals fly past Jonathan Bond and Jonathan Klinsmann and to watch Tyler Boyd and Dejan Joveljic put their chances into row Q.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Colorado. Maybe they could use a tiny bright spot in their otherwise gloomy history having never won anything and no, I’m still not interested in having that assertion disputed.
Good Guys Game of the Week
Try not to get hurt on your week off, fellas. Especially you, Jesús.