The FCD fan’s guide to hatewatching: Mon & Wed MLS Playoffs, 1st Round, Game 1

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


East #2 Orlando City SC vs. East #7 Nashville SC (FS1 and Apple TV+ free game, 6:00)

I’ll tell you in increasing order the most shocking things about Orlando City this season:

  1. Orlando City under Óscar Pareja finished second in the East this year.
  2. Orlando City under Óscar Pareja finished with more points (63) than FC Dallas under Óscar Pareja had in 2016 when they won the Supporters Shield (60).
  3. Óscar Pareja has now led a club to 60 points or more three different times in his MLS coaching career. (2015 and 2016 FC Dallas, 2023 Orlando City)
  4. Orlando City was #29 out of 29 teams in Major League Soccer in 2023 in total payroll.
  5. Óscar Pareja will be out of contract at the end of 2023.

That last item amazes me greatly.

I don’t know how it’s happened. These things usually get to this point unless somebody wants them to get to this point. Does Óscar — having built two different MLS teams into powerhouses — want to step up to a bigger challenge again, this time one that’s bigger than Xolos? Is Orlando City owned by utter morons who fail to recognize what they’ve got? Is Óscar asking for things that Orlando City ownership can’t or doesn’t want to give him, either in terms of his own salary or player spending or whatever?

I know why this has happened. That shocking stuff is No Big Deal to MLS media types:

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Of course the guy who led Columbus to finishing six points behind Orlando, having spent way more money, is more deserving.

You, gentle reader, are quite likely an FCD fan and you, like me, might be tenting your fingers and thinking to yourself, “Hey, I wouldn’t mind Óscar’s triumphant return to Frisco.” And then you, like me, remember that FCD’s already got a coach who led them to the playoffs and the upper half of the Western Conference again, even if they did play some of the most unwatchable soccer from a playoff team in this club’s history.

So we should start rooting for Óscar Pareja’s overseas move, or else we might be seeing him coaching for a Western Conference team next year, like maybe Portland.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando City, of course.

West #2 Seattle Sounders vs. West #7 FC Dallas (FS1 and Apple TV+ free game, 8:00)

MLS season-ending awards are a joke.

Now, this has long been established, but in addition to the snub of Óscar Pareja for Coach of the Year, here’s more evidence. Seattle finished tied with Nashville for the fewest goals allowed, 32. FC Dallas was next with 37. Count the total number of representatives of those three teams in the following graphics:

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Congratulations to Yeimar for being the sole representative of the league’s top three defensive teams in these awards. Stefan Frei? Maarten Paes? Walker Zimmerman? Nkosi Tafari? Hit the bricks.

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Roman Bürki? Tim Parker? FOH.

So I said all that to say this: This series is gonna melt the eyeballs out of your head, it’s gonna be so unwatchable. The team that wins the series might score a grand total of two goals in regulation in three games, or one goal if it’s a sweep.

Both teams scored 41 goals in the regular season, and FCD had to drop four on the Galaxy on Decision Day to get there. Only two playoff teams scored fewer, San Jose and Nashville, and one of those teams is already done.

This series is gonna be everything that soccer haters harp on when they talk about why they hate the game. It’s gonna be the soccer game from That Simpsons Episode. It’s gonna be uglier and more unwatchable than the Henry Kissinger sex tape.

What a perfect way to start FCD’s march to the MLS Cup title.

Wednesday (really?)

East #3 Columbus Crew vs. East #6 Atlanta United

Look, I get why they didn’t have this game on Tuesday night. Tuesday night is Halloween and the kids are out trick-or-treating, the young adults are dressing up as “Sexy TSA Agent” or something equally stupid at parties, and the older folks are giving the good candy to the kids. (You ARE giving out the good name-brand candy and not stupid bullshit like Smarties, aren’t you?)

But MLS is already spreading out this set of first-round games over three other nights. You mean they couldn’t stuff another game on one of those nights? No matter. A midweek MLS playoff game beats the tar out of anything else on TV on Wednesday night.

And this series should be the exact opposite of the FCD-Seattle series: These two teams were the top-scoring teams in the league this season, and neither played airtight defense, so expect more scoring in this series than you’ll get from the Sidekicks this season, amirite? There should be an absolutely decadent amount of scoring.

And for us FCD fans, it’ll be a nice palate-cleanser to see two teams who are making an attempt to outscore their opponent, instead of frustrating them to death for 90 minutes. Settle down on the couch, pull up a bucket filled with candy that you got for half price after Halloween (or that you raided from your kid’s haul on Halloween), and luxuriate in the downright gratuitous goal-scoring

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Columbus, even though they’ll likely be committing elder abuse on Brad Guzan.

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