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.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? While I would much prefer to go into Decision Day without needing any sort of result, it’s always much more fun when that result determines your playoff seed or whether you win the Supporters Shield and not whether you actually made the playoffs. And FCD won, which is a good thing because they got zero help from the Dynamo or LAFC. Thanks for nothing, y’all.
Meanwhile, RSL beat Portland and Minnesota beat Vancouver. And since Seattle was already, we now have zero Cascadia teams and zero plastic fields in the 2022 MLS Cup playoffs. Everybody, pat yourselves on the back, and let’s get to the first-round matchups.
Eastern Conference: #4 New York Red Bulls vs. #5 Cincinnati (UniMás/TUDN/MLSSoccer.com, 11:00)
Saturday noon is where the sports networks usually put their crappiest, least desirable games in college football. Yes, Fox has tried to make Big Noon Saturday a thing, but they’re lying to you. This timeslot is where you find the really terrible games. It’s either two garbage teams showing the world why they’re garbage or it’ll be a really good team pounding the bejeezus out of a garbage team. These broadcasts are essentially, “We’re showing you this game because we know you’ll watch it, you sicko.”
It’s a shame that MLS and Univision are giving this game that treatment. It’s a #4 vs. #5 matchup! It’s got FC Cincinnati, who jumped off the mat this year, decided that they were gonna stop winning the Wooden Spoon every year, and played some really attractive soccer on their way to the first playoff spot with a young American coach and a young American knocking in the goals! They’re a Feel-Good Goddamn Story!
Their opponents are an MLS Original! They, like FC Dallas, are trying to win their first-ever MLS Cup. They, like FC Dallas, have a really great youth system and have sent players all over Europe. They’ve made the playoffs 13 straight years by doing things The Right Way. They have come so far from their MetroStars roots in every way but one. They’re almost likeable these days.
And MLS did these two teams dirty by putting them up against the likes of Auburn-Ole Miss and Spurs-Everton.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincinnati, because like Covid, Metro Playoff Fever has long term debilitating effects.
Western Conference: #4 LA Galaxy vs. #5 Nashville (Univision/TUDN/MLSsoccer.com, 2:00)
Let me start this off by saying that my pick here is gonna be the Galaxy.
Is it because I love the Galaxy or have any great regard for the Galaxy? No. Rooting for the LA Galaxy is like rooting for the New York Yankees or the LA Lakers, only on a much smaller scale. They won more championships than anyone else and this is usually the time of year when they stop derping around and get down to business… except when Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on their roster, I guess.
Is it because I have any animus toward Nashville SC? No. They provide a good loving home for Dax McCarty in his golden years and we still have fond memories of Walker Zimmerman and his time in Frisco. Especially this one:
Anyway, the reason why I’m rooting for the Galaxy in this one is very simple. The winner gets LAFC in the next round. And while I’m generally disdainful of the league’s hype machine for most things, I enjoy El Tráfico because LAFC have somehow managed to make the LA Galaxy a sympathetic character. And the Supporters Shield Curse visiting LAFC in the form of their crosstown rivals?
The feelings that that would give me… I don’t believe that even the Germans have a word for that.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: LA Galaxy, but only marginally. If Nashville advances, that would also fill my heart with joy.
Western Conference: #2 Austin vs. #7 Salt Lake (ABC, 2:00)
The big ABC game of the weekend features one of the New York teams playing, right? Oh, then it features the LA Galaxy… huge market, big team with big stars? No… it features a game between the teams from the two smallest markets in the league.
Yeah, I know why they did it. You don’t need to explain it to me. And it’s not like anyone was gonna watch an MLS game in this slot, up against NFL Sunday games on CBS and Fox, no matter who was playing.
So you might as well show this game. Your alternatives are three MLS originals who can occasionally be greeted with indifference by their fans, a team playing in a baseball stadium, and MLS’ French-Canadian outpost.
Anyway, I’m sure our little brothers down I-35 are excited about their very first playoff game. Let’s go check Reddit to gauge their reaction, since Austin FC is the Most Reddit Fanbase in MLS, as opposed to NYCFC, who is the most 8chan fanbase in MLS. Surely, they’re hot to play the Fightin’ Mastroenis, right?
OK, that’s just one goofball on Reddit, right? Let’s look on Twitter… oh.
I never would’ve thought that “HAHAHA, we’re paying way more for playoff tickets than FC Dallas fans are” would be some kind of sick burn, but then, Gentrification FC doesn’t have so much of a fanbase as a group of finsubs.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Salt Lake, because I really don’t want to see the bulk of Austin FC’s fanbase who are in Pflugerville, Round Rock, Leander, and other parts of Williamson County to lose their homes.
Eastern Conference: #2 Montreal vs. #7 Orlando (ESPN, 7:00)
Honestly, I thought that Orlando had a playoff spot wrapped up a month ago. Papi had them put together a nice run of results, they won the Open Cup final, and it looked like a done deal. But they hit a bad patch, and all of a sudden, they needed a win last Sunday to get in. And Columbus took a 1-0 lead, s things were looking bad for Papi’s boys. But Columbus did what Columbus did all season and blow the lead, and Orlando was finally in and Columbus was out.
And few days later, Caleb Porter was out.
But enough about that preening schmo. Things don’t get any better for Orlando, since they go to Montreal, who is very, very good. Even if this column has a pro-Papi bias, we can still recognize that they’ve got a tough one here.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando, and Montreal can finally show their godawful log the door and get right to rebranding everything with their new, not-as-godawful logo.
Eastern Conference: #3 NYCFC vs. #6 Miami (FS1, 6:00)
Hey kids, let’s hop in the Wayback Machine and go back 10 days:
Makes sense. The Yankees and the Mets were both in the playoffs, so neither Yankee Stadium nor Citi Field were available.
Then the San Diego Padres happened, Timmy Trumpet put away his horn for the season, and Citi Field became available. Surely, NYCFC wouldn’t change the venue a week before a playoff game, would they?
Of course, Phil Neville was not happy about the change in venue:
I’m with Neville. Even in its earliest days, when so many other things in this league were a joke, when there were shootouts and playoff games played on fields lined with bright white gridirons for football and faint yellow lines for soccer, you at the very least knew where the games would be held from one week to the next. You can call NYCFC “East Coach Chivas USA,” but at least Chivas USA played all their games in Carson, save for one or two doubleheaders at the LA Coliseum.
This is an absolute farce and we need for Inter Miami to end for this season. Good luck to them.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Miami, and maybe NYCFC can get a few pointers from them on the finer points of municipal graft to get a stadium deal done.
Western Conference: #3 FCD vs. #6 Minnesota (FS1, 8:30)
You know what’s great about the 2022 MLS Cup playoffs? All of FCD’s historic playoff bogeys are gone.
Seattle, whom FCD had beaten once ever and lost to a bunch of times, is out. Portland, whom FCD had beaten once ever and lost to a bunch of times, is out. Colorado, the ultimate nemesis, with five playoff victories over the Burn and FCD in 1997, 2002, 2005, 2006, and the ultimate indignity in MLS Cup 2010 and not a single loss, is out.
Who’s left? The Galaxy, whom Dallas has beaten twice and lost to twice. RSL, whom Dallas beat in 2010. And a bunch of teams whom Dallas has never played in the playoffs, including Minnesota.
Glorious. A chance to make a new playoff nemesis.
You see, I’m a hater and there’s nothing I hate more than my own team once the playoffs roll around. Their playoff suckage is the stuff of nightmares. They’ve made the playoff 19 times in 27 years, and they’ve only made the conference finals four times. Home field advantage? Doesn’t matter. Better talent? Better coach? Doesn’t matter. They will find a way to screw it up in some way, either through injury, momentary incompetence, or an opposing player who has the night of his life.
Am I bitter? You’re goddamned right I am.
Back in Ye Olden Days of the Burn, there was a fellow by the name of Peter (not Welpton) who used to wear a pair of devil horns and a red cape and had a generally negative disposition about this team. A pretty insightful outlook for this team, as it turns out. Every year, at the start of the playoffs, he’d yell “Prove me wrong!” They never have.
Now it’s my turn to take up the mantle. Prove me wrong, you glorious SOBs. Become legends. Do what an entire generation of Dallas Burn and FC Dallas teams have never done. And take the first step by giving Minnesotans a new reason to hate Dallas after Herschel Walker and Norm Green.