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.
That was one of the worst games I’ve seen lately from this team. To absolutely get rolled like that by the worst team in the league? And to score first — albeit on an own goal — and get rolled like that? And now FCD’s cold streak is up to one win in the last seven games, if you exclude the 40 minutes that they played against St. Louis.
Yup, the summer swoon is ON, baby!
Except it isn’t, really. As the fellas on the award-winning 3rd Degree the Podcast talked about this week, there’s a very obvious reason for the current cold streak: the teams that Nico Estévez has to roll out every week do not in any way resemble a first-choice starting lineup, thanks to one very prominent international call-up, injuries, and the occasional suspension.
Incidentally, can we just give the team’s Most Valuable Player award to Jesús Ferreira right now? He’s apparently the only player on the team that can score goals more often than Halley’s Comet passes by Earth.
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
FC Cincinnati vs. Nashville SC (MLS Season Pass, 6:30)
America is a funny place, sometimes. We think of all these different places as being in completely different parts of the country and so far from one another, when really… they’re not. Dallas is closer to Denver than it is to the Valley. It only takes you an hour longer to drive from El Paso to LA than it does to drive to Houston. And Nashville’s closest geographic rival?
Of course, a four-hour drive to an away game would be called “intolerable cruelty” by English commentators, so it’s all relative, I guess.
But this game isn’t this slot just because of geographic closeness, it’s because we want to make old people jokes about Dax McCarty… and because these two teams are first and third in the Eastern Conference. (Just kidding, Dax. We still miss you in Dallas.)
At some point, I’m gonna have to start giving Gary Smith some credit. Sure, I can continue to be bitter and spiteful about the 2010 MLS Cup Final and continue to brand him as the architect of a donkey team that hacked its way past David Ferreira and FC Dallas. Or I can acknowledge that he’s a pretty good coach and people are not at their best whenever they have to spend time in Commerce City. Just ask Óscar Pareja and Pablo Mastroeni. Hell, why else do you think that Stan Kroenke has never been seen at a Rapids game?
On the other hand, having Hany Mukhtar on your roster tends to make any coach look good, so I’m not gonna give Smith too much credit yet.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincy. I ain’t over 2010 quite yet.
Little Brother Game of the Week
Austin FC vs. Sporting Kansas City (Apple TV+ free game, 8:30)
Say, wasn’t SKC in this slot last week? Yes, they were. If they keep this up, they might get named an honorary Little Brother.
But no, it’s because they’re playing in Houston and Austin on back-to-back weekends. And at the most pleasant time of year to be outdoors in Texas!
On a related note, no, that is not a typo. The game really is starting at 8:30 in Austin. I make all sorts of jokes about Little Brother Green, but at least their management is sufficiently clued into the fact that it gets hot in Texas in July and is taking appropriate measures, unlike a team near and dear to our hearts that insisted on 7:00 kickoffs in the recent past.
And more importantly to that team near and dear to our hearts, neither of these teams are semi-permanent residents outside the playoff zone anymore. OK, sure, SKC is still on the wrong side of the playoff line, but they’re only three points back of FCD. Worse still, Little Brother Green is now tied with FCD on points and has an identical record and an identical goal difference. This feels like the low point in FCD’s season.
There are two good things about Little Brother Green’s resurgence:
- Josh Wolff may not be a good coach, and this’ll ensure that he holds onto his job that much longer.
- This will annoy the segment of the Little Brother Green fanbase that has wanted Wolff fired since the 2021 season.
Otherwise, there’s nothing good about it. And the starhumpers at MLS who write for the site and who appear on the league’s content on Apple TV+ will act like Little Brother Green is worth paying attention to.
Meanwhile, by signing Gyasi Zardes, they had already shown that they’re not a serious team and not worth paying attention to.
As for SKC, there is nothing good about their resurgence. Nothing. That they were in such a hole beforehand that their rebound has only gotten them back into 11th. But other than that, nada. It sucks. They held out the hope of a historically bad season that would entertain us all season long, but no.
Ladies and gentlemen haters, this is USDA Grade A hatewatching. The good, sweet, clean FC Dallas fan will want both teams to lose and lose big, but that’s sadly not an option, so we’re left to root for frustration for both sides and comedy for us. Speaking of comedy, the league website has given us this:
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. Additionally, may there be multiple red cards, a late equalizer by Little Brother Green, and for Peter Vermes to spontaneously combust somewhere around 10:45 on Saturday night on the touchline of Q2 Stadium.
“Let’s Pretend to Care about the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Atlanta United vs. Orlando City (FS1, 7:30)
I’m sure that when this game was put on the FS1 schedule, everybody involved thought it was gonna be a pretty hot game. You’ve got two teams that have been pretty good for the last few years and a little regional spice from the Ye Olden Days of five years ago when these two teams were the only ones south of Washington and east of Houston.
But alas, it is only the second-biggest game in the Eastern Conference this weekend, largely because these two teams are currently sixth and seventh in the East.
Still, Orlando’s almost certainly feeling a lot be in seventh with 34 points than Atlanta is about being in sixth with 35. After all, Papi’s boys have only lost twice in the last 10 games, racking up 18 points in the process. Of course, one of those losses was getting tuned up 4-0 in Salt Lake last weekend, but RSL seems to be good these days.
Mind you, Atlanta hasn’t been bad themselves and they’ve only dropped two games in the last 10. But they’ve also drawn five times, and as any FCD fan who was around for the 2017 collapse can tell you: Draws will kill you dead almost as much as losses will.
The good news for Atlanta is that they’re likely going to finish higher in the Eastern Conference standings than the other team with a member of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup winning squad on its roster. Just make sure that if Thiago Almada gets his picture taken at a local grocery store, it’s not at the Murder Kroger.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando, because this column will always have a noted pro-Pareja bias. Hey, Dan and Clark, maybe you should’ve bought him a real live #9 that could put the ball in the net, instead of the Human Blooper Reel Cristian Colmán.
Sickos Game of the Week
Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC (Apple TV+ free game, 7:30)
When I saw this game on the schedule, I knew that it was tailor-made for this slot, even though Chicago’s in ninth place and technically in a playoff spot. (Fingers crossed for Montreal, Red Bulls, Charlotte, and NYCFC, who are all just three points back.)
But Chicago is still pretty good for this slot because they fired their coach 10 games into the season. That’s the sort of stuff that you usually only see from clubs in Eastern European leagues that are owned by the local oligarch who spends a lot of his endless supply of cash on players and gets annoyed when they’re only leading the league by 10 points 10 games into the season.
You also used to see it from Chelsea when Roman Abramovich owned the club. To-may-to, to-mah-to.
To be fair, Chicago actually has been playing better since they canned Dallas Burn legend Ezra Hendrickson. They had gotten 11 points in 10 games with him in charge, and under Frank Klopas, they’ve gotten 18 points in 12 games. Progress!
Toronto fired Bob Bradley on June 26, and it hasn’t worked out quite as well:
I guess he wasn’t the problem, after all. This of course is the Toronto FC that we were so used to seeing for the first several years of its existence. They’d go spending money indiscriminately on players and coaches and it would all fall apart rather spectacularly. Those years under Greg Vanney were an outlier, not a bold, new, competent direction.
Kinda sad to see Matt Hedges and Brandon Servania have to be part of it, though.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting interest: 0-0 draw. Look, the old-school Burn fan in me would never want the Fire to win anything but the Wooden Spoon, but it would be legitimately funny for TFC to get shut out for the entire month of July, and with the upcoming break for the waste of time known as Leagues Cup, this game is all that stands in the way of that.
Good Guys Game of the Week
Seattle Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas (Apple TV+ free game, 9:30)
Back in 1995, I took a road trip across the West. I started in Dallas, went out to Southern California, up the West Coast to Seattle and Vancouver, then back down through Boise, Salt Lake, and Denver to Dallas. It was glorious.
When I was in Seattle, I got to watch the Seattle Sounders. No, not the MLS team. They wouldn’t come around for another 14 years, and no, not the NASL team that had died with the league in 1984. No, what I saw was the Seattle Sounders that were in the American Professional Soccer League that was part of the alphabet soup of soccer leagues that came and went in the 12 years between the NASL and MLS.
That team actually stuck around for longer than the original NASL Sounders. They were in the APSL, which then rebranded itself to the A-League, which then merged with the USL, and were part of the USL until 2009 when the MLS version started.
But on that night in the summer of 1995, I watched them at Memorial Stadium, a high school football stadium in the shadow of the Space Needle Seattle Center:
The game was against the Atlanta Ruckus, and was this place packed? Hell no. There were maybe a couple of thousand people there. In fact, for all of the APSL/USL Sounders’ existence, they got average crowds that were in the 3,000-4,000 range. The USL Portland Timbers, meanwhile, were regularly getting twice as many people to Civic Stadium, much to the amusement of Timbers fans.
So when the MLS Sounders came out of the gate in 2009 drawing 30,000-40,000 a game and people were saying that it was because Seattle was a “real soccer town,” I was amused.
Where the hell were 90% of y’all for the last 15 years? Not watching the Sounders in person.
I know it’s such gatekeeping behavior to look down on some fan who doesn’t know who Peter Hattrup was, but seriously, SoundersFan can get bent.
If you want to pat yourself on the back for being great soccer fans, I’ll feel free to get all gatekeeper on you, especially when the universe has a perverse sense of humor and sees fit to continuously give you good teams to watch.
The entitled lack of self-awareness on the part of SoundersFan has spread like a rash across the country to the point where we gotta hear about “supporters culture” from Little Brother Green fans who never attended a professional soccer game of any sort in any country before 2021. It’s disgusting and I blame SoundersFan for it.
I would say, “Let’s see how SoundersFan would turn out if their team was continuously second-rate,” but I already know from the pre-2009 years. SoundersFan is probably the most compelling argument against promotion and relegation that this league has ever had.