The FCD Fan’s Guide to Hatewatching Opening Day

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

Since we’re just after Mardi Gras, I’m givin’ y’all something from New Orleans. (Sorry, Mobile, don’t email about your Mardi Gras. This column has a pro-Louisiana bias.) Papa Grows Funk was a New Orleans-based funk band that formed in 2000. Sadly, they’ve been on hiatus since 2013, which sounds like a lot of soccer leagues in this country, who have been on hiatus for decades.

Last week

It was just over two months ago that the Columbus Crew were lifting MLS Cup after defeating LAFC. This filled me with so much joy because it gives me the opportunity to laugh at two entities:

  1. The team formerly known as the L’Impact de Montréal.
  2. The current owner of Little Brother Green.

Seeing people act stupid and get made to look stupid by the consequences of their actions makes me believe that the arc of the moral universe occasionally bends toward justice.

But here we are, with snow still on the ground in much of the country, because it’s, you know, February, and MLS kicking off its season earlier than ever. I guess they needed to make room on the calendar for the US Open CupLeagues Cup

Copa América. Actually, it’s already kicked off because MLS is doing the NFL thing now where a single midweek game kicks off the season and The Fightin’ Messis beats Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night. When you have the chance to put Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez, Jordi Alba, and… Pablo Mastroeni on the same field together, you take it.


Los Angeles FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC (Fox and Apple TV+ free game, 3:45)

In Week 1, you really have a hard time saying what game’s gonna be great and what game is gonna be crap and who’s great and who’s crap, so you just have to go on past results. And these two clubs have been the kings of the Western Conference for the last several years, so sure, let’s put them here.

Mind you, there’s always the possibility that both might be crap this year. Both have gotten older and both said goodbye to some key performers.

LAFC lost Kellyn Acosta, Diego Palacios, and Giorgio Chilellini. Carlos Vela is in limbo and might not be back.

Seattle let Nico Lodeiro walk and he’s playing for Papi in Orlando now.

But both teams still have good squads and if they’re not, both will spend the sort of money that we wish — well, wished — the Hunts would spend. So they’ll likely be fine.

With each move, Kellyn has gone to a bigger and bigger heel.

But hopefully not.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. Let’s start both these teams off with a nice 1 PPG.Little Brother Game of the Week

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)

Speaking of teams that I badly want to miss the playoffs, it was nice of MLS to start off the season with two great hates to hate great together. This was the obvious choice for this slot because who cares about Little Brother Green hosting Minnesota?

Well, unless you’re dying to see Jáder Obrian constantly be offside and act surprised when the assistant referee informs him and the whole world of this fact. But maybe with scab refs, you never know!

But back to this far more interesting game. Houston is missing Héctor Herrera and Nelson Quíñones, both of whom are injured and out indefinitely. As for the Sporks, they’ve got their hatable cast of characters back, from Johnny Russell, who owes his longevity to snacking on the rodents that wander near his house, to Tim Melia, who is an example of staying active and vibrant into your golden years, to Peter Vermes, who I really thought was going spontaneously combust on the touchline by this point.

It goes without saying, that I wish nothing but bad things on both of these teams.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. If there were a way both teams could get zero points, I’d wish for that.

“Let’s Pretend to Care about the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United (MLS Season Pass, 1:00)

Whenever you see the NFL schedule come out each season, they always start off the season with the Super Bowl champs kicking off the next season at home in a Thursday night primetime game as a little treat. So MLS is doing a similar bit, I guess, by having a single midweek kickoff game. But it’s a sign of how screwed-up everyone’s priorities are these days that we got to watch Inter Miami have the honors of hosting it and no one said, “Hey, we’d like to watch a good team!”

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot that everybody has them winning MLS Cup this year. Never mind.

Wait, I don't see Lionel Messi
Wait, I don’t see Lionel Messi

But this game SHOULD have been the game to kick off the MLS season. You’ve got a dynamic, free-scoring team in Columbus, the defending league champs. And you put them up against Atlanta, who can also score a few goals themselves, who have got a real star in the making in Thiago Almada, but who finished a bit further down the table because they wouldn’t be able to stop my grandmother from scoring… and she’s been dead since 2012.

And Atlanta’s got Dax McCarty now, who certainly limps a lot less than Luis Suárez.

Oh well, opportunity missed.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Atlanta. No real reason.

Sickos Game of the Week

FC Cincinnati vs. Toronto FC (Apple TV+ free game, Sunday at 1:30)

Oh, MLS. What better way to soothe the upset feelings of the Cincitucky fanbase that got to learn about the Supporters Shield Curse last season than to feed them the sacrificial lambs of Toronto FC? I’m not gonna say that this is gonna be a snuff film, but Apple might precede their broadcast with a Parental Advisory warning. Then again, maybe they won’t. They still broadcast For All Mankind and that show has gotten too dumb to expose to impressionable minds.

Honestly, this feels even more unrealistic than For All Mankind

I could be completely misreading these two teams, but I doubt it. Cincy rolled through MLS like a runaway beer truck last season, lost a few pieces in the offseason, and replaced them. They will likely keep trucking along and picking up points as long as guys stay healthy, and by “guys,” I mean Luciano Acosta.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got Toronto, who spent a crapton of money a few years ago on two Italian stars who hate each other and a bunch of other guys who are great as long as someone perfects time travel and can manage to go back to 2018. You’d think that a housecleaning would be in order, but none happened. They did, however, sign former Canadian national team boss John Herdman, whom we last saw shooting off his mouth about Croatia in the 2022 World Cup. That didn’t go well.

And it’s not gonna go well for him on Sunday.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Toronto, mostly for the giggles.

Good Guys Game of the Week

FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)

It’s damn near a tradition in Frisco. FC Dallas makes a much-hyped signing in the offseason and is that signing available for Opening Day? Of course not. This organization always gets the slowest people down at the State Department to handle visas for new players. But in fairness to him, Petar Musa is also getting married and having a kid.

For those of you keeping score at home, our boy is filling up his “Major Life Stresses” punch card all at once:

  • Moving
  • Starting a new job
  • Marriage
  • Childbirth

Wow. Kind of puts into perspective my annoyance that a single sock had gone missing in the laundry.

But all of FC Dallas-curious folks are full of optimism and good vibes these days that the only thing that’ll kill them are actual games being played and the possibility of losses. Fortunately for us, our old friend Luchi Gonzalez is coming to town with the Earthquakes. Look at this veritable bland rice cake of recent history again the Quakes, courtesy of 3rd Degree Discord member stricks:

(Obligatory plug: Support 3rd Degree at and if you give $5/month, you can join the 3rd Degree Discord where you can ask Dan Crooke what it was like performing with Tracy Chapman at the Grammys.)

Let’s keep the good vibes rolling, boys.

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