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.
FC Dallas had the week off and rested up and healed up. Remember?
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
Atlanta United vs. Nashville SC (Apple TV+ free game, 6:30)
Spare a thought for Atlanta fans. Not only are they mostly ignorant about anything related to US soccer before 2017, they’re also getting to watch Tata Martino, Josef Martínez, and Miguel Almirón prosper in places not named “Atlanta.”
Oh well. At least they’ve got their own Argentine world cup winner…
Oh. Well, at least they get to watch their team score lots of goals — they’re third in the league in goals scored! Unfortunately, they’ve given up the second-most goals in the league, which is a terrible thing to do to Brad Guzan. When a gentleman reaches his age, we should treat them with more dignity than to make them continuously fetch balls out of a net.
Well, at least their boys aren’t playing a team with some gifted attacking players and a stingy defense this week, are they?
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Nashville, because this column has a pro-Zim and pro-Dax and pro-Hany bias.
Little Brother Game of the Week
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo (MLS Season Pass, 8:30)
“Didn’t they just play on Wednesday night?” Yes, they did, in Houston, in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. And Little Brother Orange won, so they rather amusingly have earned a berth in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup because the other finalist for the Open Cup, Miami, already had a berth by winning Leagues Cup.
I gotta tell you, this is not how I expected the season to go for our little friends in the Bayou City. They’re a perpetually crap team. Their big signing, Héctor Herrera, was looking utterly useless. And to make matters worse, they had just hired Ben Olsen as their coach. And here they are, in playoff position two-thirds through the season and in the final of the US Open Cup.
(Here’s your depressing factoid of the week: The last time that FC Dallas beat an MLS side in the US Open Cup was in 2017, a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. Since then, Little Brother Orange has appeared in two finals, in 2018 and this year.)
Speaking of things I didn’t expect, our favorite purveyor of philosophical nuggets that you’d normally expect from your weed-smoking college classmate, Pablo Mastroeni, has Real Salt Lake in 3rd place in the West, along with their recently-concluded Open Cup run. I genuinely did not expect that. I also did not expect them to be signing players in the summer transfer for seven figures either, but I guess it really is a new day in little ole Major League Soccer.
But we’re not here to give plaudits for proving me wrong. My being proven wrong happens on a daily basis. We’re here to be petty and to hate and to long for the day when the Dynamo have resumed looking up at the rest of the Western Conference and Real Salt Lake have resumed life as “the Colorado Rapids, but with fry sauce.” And I believe in you, Ben and Pablo, and I believe that y’all can make that happen.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. Both teams can have a point as a little treat.
“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
New York Red Bulls vs. Inter Miami (Apple TV+ free game, 6:30)
This might seem like our league-mandated Messi content for the week, but it’s not. It is the most interesting Eastern Conference game this week (outside of, you know, the one at the top). And speaking of Messi, that time of the season that we had anticipated has finally arrived:
Tata Martino has realized that he can’t keep treating Lionel Messi like a rental car. Granted, since he knows that everyone’s here to make a few bucks and win trophies, he’s had to ride Messi hard over the speedbumps that were FC Dallas, Philadelphia Union, Nashville SC, and FC Cincinnati to win Leagues Cup and get into the Open Cup final, but he also doesn’t want to be responsible for having the greatest player of our generation resemble the Bluesmobile at the end of The Blues Brothers:
Of course, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the league. Their cash cow is rolling into New York — well, the Greater Tri-State Area — and for the first time in years, they finally have a reason to give to people to cross the Hudson and brave the indignity of going to Jersey, and that cash cow will be dressed in warmups and sitting on the bench. I love it.
And let’s talk about Tata Martino. One rarely sees a better example of “falling upward” outside of Silicon Valley than this guy. Less than a year ago, he had been fired by some fourth-rate national team and now, he’s living every Baby Boomer’s dream: Living in Fort Lauderdale, getting paid, and having a bunch of Millennials and Zoomers keep him on the gravy train. Respect.
I completely didn’t talk about the Red Bulls here, but you know, when your club is run like a glorified academy for RB Leipzig, somehow your opponents tend to be a lot more interesting.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: New York Red Bulls, who will pull off the improbable double of winning the game and sending the spectators home angry.
Sickos Game of the Week
FC Cincinnati vs. New York City FC (MLS Season Pass, 6:30)
So on Wednesday night, I was watching FC Cincinnati was playing Inter Miami in the Open Cup semifinal. Cincy had a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute and was cruising. My wife called me from the other room and I went to talk to her. Sure, why not? The best team in the league has a two-goal lead halfway through the second half and they just have to manage the game for another 25-30 minutes and they’re through to the semifinal.
You’d think that I would’ve learned by now.
Nice job, Cincy. Giving up a late two goal lead and losing in penalties to Inter Miami? I couldn’t possibly relate. Good thing they get a nice bounceback game against… (Checks notes) …New York City FC.
One of the things that makes this league so great is the ability for a complete reversal of fortune. Well, for other teams. I personally don’t dig it when FC Dallas goes from winning the Supporters Shield one year to missing the playoff the next, but I like it a lot more when City Football Group’s North American branch goes from winning MLS Cup in 2021 to being 13th in the East in 2023. It warms the cockles of this hater’s heart.
But that whole “13th in the East” thing might come as a surprise to a lot of people. Including maybe Pat Noonan, who was might’ve been thinking, “I’ve got a tough game coming up this weekend against NYCFC,” when he was pulling his two best attacking players to try kill the game.
I get it. 60% of the time, it works every time, and all that, but you’re in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, Pat. Finish the job. You can phone it in on the weekend against the sportswashing clown team.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincy, who will take out their frustrations on that sportswashing clown team.
Good Guys Game of the Week
FC Dallas vs. Austin FC (Apple TV+ free game, 7:30)
This weekend is one of the few times a year where we FCD fans are compelled to think about Copa Tejas. You know Copa Tejas, right? It was a trophy that was previously created to honor the best team among all the Texas teams in USL Championship. Then Austin joined MLS and it was decided to create an MLS version of it, in order to make Dallas and Houston care about playing with them.
We were compelled to think about Copa Tejas twice earlier this season. First, when FCD beat Little Brother Green in their house, we were told DIDN’T count for Copa Tejas for… reasons. Then later, when Little Brother Green beat the stuffing out of North Texas SC and Friends during the Gold Cup, it did count. I have no idea what other games did or did not count, I don’t know the standings, and I don’t care.
But you know who does care? Little Brother Green and their fans:
And apparently, they are upset about having to have the trophy presentation in a parking lot last year when they won it:
Look, I’m not trying to yuk anyone’s yum here. People can care about whatever they want to care about, and I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t. But at some point, that goes both ways. We don’t care about Copa Tejas, Austin, and you can’t make us.
Don’t believe me? Go look for yourself. Go look at the FC Dallas Twitter feed. The last time they used the word “copa” was 2022. Twice, immediately preceding the last home game against you clowns. This week? Nah. They’ve tweeted about all sorts of stuff — Star Wars night, Asier Illarramendi, special Kick Childhood Cancer shirts — but not Copa Tejas. Go look at who’s tweeting about Copa Tejas, namely your fans.
Do we want FCD to pound your boys like a veal cutlet? Always. But that’s what we want for every game.
The fact that you seem to think that we should treat you any differently because you want it to be that way is what makes you a little brother. Maybe you should go start The Little Brother Cup with Little Brother Orange and try to make them care.