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 honor of Max Bretos’ Peter Frampton reference during the commentary on Wednesday night, here’s Frampton on The Midnight Special from 1975.
For those of you who don’t know, The Midnight Special was a weekly series created by Burt Sugarman that ran from 1972 to 1981 at 1 AM Eastern Time Friday night/Saturday morning on NBC after The Tonight Show and featured all sorts of pop musicians running the gamut from rock to folk to R&B performing live.
Peter and Buzz talked about it a bit on the award-winning* 3rd Degree the Podcast, but man, the mood did a complete 180 after the game in Sandy on Wednesday.
After the dreadful second half against Seattle on Saturday night, I was ready to give up on the 2023 season. The team had zero ideas going forward, they were in 10th place, and it looked like it was going to be a death march during the next hectic few weeks, ultimately culminating in another non-playoff season.
But now, after three unanswered goals and the 3-1 road win in Utah, the team is back in a playoff spot, the sun is once again shining, the birds are singing, and hope is in the air. Just don’t look ahead at what’s coming up.
* Confirmation pending
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami (FS1 and MLS Season Pass, Sunday at 6:30)
Look, before I get into the Obligatory You-Know-Who Content, let me give some love to our old, dear friend Óscar Pareja and former FCD Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi for Orlando City’s clinching their fourth-straight playoff spot last weekend.
Orlando City had never had a single playoff appearance before Pareja and Muzzi joined the club, and now, they’ve done it four straight times. This is something that Pareja never did in Dallas, by the way, thanks to the swan dive in the second half of the 2017 season. He also won the Open Cup last season, as he did in Dallas in 2016. And in a season in which the Eastern Conference is pretty stacked, he’s got Orlando City here:
Pareja’s high water mark with FC Dallas was 60 points in both 2015 and 2016. He’s sitting on 50 with five games to go. Would it be tough to clear 60? Yes, is it out of the question? No. Since May 6, Orlando’s racked up 36 points in 19 games.
On Sunday night, they get a second shot at their old pals from Ft. Lauderdale in the last six weeks, which has already proven to be beneficial for Nashville and Atlanta on their second looks at Inter Miami. Nashville only got a draw against a full-strength Miami side the second time, but Atlanta got to face Miami without Lionel Messi and beat them like they asked if Pepsi was OK.
Orlando is going to be at home and they’re getting Miami without Messi or Jordi Alba, which is bad news for folks in central Florida who wanted to pay for their kids’ college education by unloading their tickets to this game. But I ain’t gonna shed any tears for them.
I’m also not gonna shed any tears for anyone who’s greatly concerned that Miami might not, in fact, make the playoffs. This’ll greatly amuse the Cristiano Ronaldo stans, of course, but given that they stan for an alleged rapist, they should probably just keep quiet.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando, of course.
Little Brother Game of the Week
Austin FC vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (FS1 and Apple TV+ free game, Sunday at 8:30)
Speaking of soccer-related garbage, we turn to our old pals in central Texas. I was going to feature the SKC-Little Brother Orange game in this slot, but it occurred to me that it’s been a little while since I’ve been able to take a crap on Little Brother Green, so here we are.
One thing that I will forever love about this league is that nothing lasts forever. One season, you can finish 2nd in the West, and not quite a year later, you’ll be in 12th. You have five MLS Cups in your franchise history and still be in 13th place in the West with six games to go in the season.
Eventually, everyone is gonna have to eat shit.
What not everyone has to do is be dumb while eating shit.
What am I talking about? What I am talking about is something like what the Burn did in 2003 when they, in the midst of one of the worst seasons in the history of Major League Soccer, panicked and did three trades with the Galaxy, Columbus, and DC United that sent those teams Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome, Antonio “Chivas” Martínez, and Ronald Cerritos, guys who all contributed to a very good 2002 season, and got them a bunch of players, only two of whom, Ezra Hendrickson and Brian Dunseth, ever played in Major League Soccer again.
This came to mind when I was watching LA come back from being 3-1 down to beating Minnesota on Wednesday night. The winner was scored by Diego Fagundez.
You might remember that Fagundez was a fan favorite in Austin until Little Brother Green traded him to LA a couple of months ago for Memo Rodríguez and some GarberBucks. Rodríguez has played 170 minutes in four matches since then.
Or consider FC Dallas legend Matt Hedges, who now wears green and black after Little Brother Green traded half a million in GarberBucks to Toronto to get him. Cap’n Matt has played in four matches since then and hasn’t played since a sub appearance on September 2, due to injury. He has however managed to endear himself to Austin fans by wearing an FCD shirt after FCD’s victory on August 26.
Little Brother Green panicked, traded some real assets players that haven’t produced, and are still dropping like a rock. This brings me joy.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: LA. I really want to say “draw” because FCD doesn’t need any more heat behind them than they already have, but I really love seeing the Little Brothers eat shit.
“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution (Apple TV+ free game, 7:30)
It’s that time of the year, y’all. The leaves are starting to change, the nights are getting a little crisper, and we get reminded who the main attraction is at Soldier Field.
I know, I know, this seems a little hypocritical for me, an FC Dallas supporter, to say, but at least when you’re seeing the faint gridiron at Toyota Stadium this time of year, you can remind yourself that those lines helped get Frisco ISD to help pay for the place.
The Fire have no such excuse. They actually have their own place in Bridgeview that they could be using, but aren’t because allegedly, it was a terrible location that no one wanted to go to, etc. etc. I will gladly defer to any and all Chicagoland residents on this point because I have only once been to Chicago outside of the terminals at O’Hare and Midway. If they say that Bridgeview was attendance poison, I’ll believe them…
Well, as it turns out, location ISN’T everything, especially when “an evening with the Chicago Fire” has produced as many questions about one’s life choices as “an evening with Malört.”
As for their opponents, they too play in an entirely too large NFL stadium, but at least they’ve been run relatively competently until Bruce Arena said something that was apparently really bad but that we’re never going to find out.
By the way, I’m OK with that. For all we know, it might’ve been about someone’s family member, it might’ve been medically related, it might’ve been about some situation that really we don’t want to know.
Just because we want to know doesn’t mean we get to know.
But a couple of months ago before all that came down, I’m sure that folks were looking at the schedule and saying “Well, the Revs go to Colorado, don’t play that midweek whenever is, then get to go to Chicago. That’s not a bad road trip. They might pick up six points!”
Hopefully, they’ll get three points out of it.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: New England. Piss on the Fire.
Sickos Game of the Week
New York City FC vs. Toronto FC (Apple TV+ free game, 6:30)
You might be wondering why the last game isn’t the Sickos Game of the Week. Frankly, if you look at the Eastern Conference games this week, you’ll come away with one impression.
Between the last game, this game, Cincy-Charlotte, and DC-New York, there are a lot of games that should only appeal to MLS sickos.
Hell, if it weren’t for the fact that Miami has signed a few well-known players and are winning games, that one would be in this category too, since they’d be on their way to another curb-stomping like they were getting earlier this season.
But this game rises above the rest for a few reasons:
- These two teams account for two of the last six MLS Cup winners and are both sitting outside the playoffs at the moment. We return to what I said earlier about the way that nothing lasts forever in this league.
- These two teams are owned by people who have a lot of money and are not afraid to spend it, and both are sitting outside of the playoffs at the moment.
- Toronto FC has essentially given up on the season. They’ve fired their coach, as if Bob Bradley was The Problem, and have traded one of their offseason signings halfway through the season.
- The location of this game, which is Not New York, despite the fact that NYCFC is the home team.
That’s right, folks, we get to see NYCFC play a home game at Red Bull Arena this week and we get to see them cover all the Red Bull branding around the stadium with sky blue banners to try to make you forget that their first-choice home stadium is in use for the Yankees-Diamondbacks series this weekend and their second-choice home stadium will be used for the Mets-Marlins starting on Tuesday.
I cannot think of a good reason to watch this game except out of morbid curiosity. Maybe you want to watch a very rich mediocre team pound a very rich horrible team that’s given up into a smooth paste. Maybe you want to look at the empty stands and say to yourself “couldn’t be my team.” Maybe you want to watch as a meditation on the impermanence of greatness.
Whatever reason you choose, that’s between yourself and God.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. But really, it doesn’t matter. The only reason we’ll ever hear about this game after it’s played will be if there’s a golazo that melt your face off, or more likely, a goal that should have “Yakety Sax” playing during the highlight.
Good Guys Game of the Week
FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)
While New York City FC has spent the entirety of its existence couch-surfing at various stadiums around New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut – and perpetually have “stadium plans” – the Columbus Crew has spent the last 25 years playing in its own stadiums. Stadiums, plural.
Of course, one of those stadiums was built in the aftermath of the aborted move to Austin under former owner Anthony Precourt, the first of many embarrassing losses associated with Precourt and the City of Austin.
And although the Save the Crew movement was successful, it didn’t stop a caravan of clowns from coming up from Austin to Frisco five years ago to root for their new team.
If it seems like I have a hard time talking shit about Columbus, that’s because I do.
Sure, I could lampoon them for being a bunch of hayseeds in a third-rate cowtown, which it is. I could lampoon them for being the home of White Castle, Sbarro, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Lane Bryant, and seemingly every other crappy retail outlet that fills the few remaining malls that are still around.
I could lampoon them for being the home of The Ohio State University, a university that has produced some great football players, as well as a disproportionate number of January 6 defendants.
I could lampoon Columbus for being the capital of Ohio, which has produced the most astronauts and given us the following meme:
But instead, I will celebrate the team that gave us jock rock during MLS games, Crew Cat, the Crewzers, the shortest-lived rebrand in MLS history, Dos a Cero, and handed Austin the first of many Ls that it would receive over the last five years.
And in that spirit, I say the following: