The FCD fan’s guide to hatewatching the MLS Cup Playoffs, Conference Semifinals

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

Last week

Well, two weeks ago, actually.

As it turns out, having two out of your three best-attacking players not even on the bench, then losing the third to injury early in the match, is deleterious to winning the game. For those of you keep score, two of those players came off early in matches in the playoffs at the Sounders’ place Seahawks’ place.

The good news is that that garbage-ass stadium with its green concrete field will only be used for one, maybe two, more games. Not the MLS Cup final, since they have fewer points than any team still alive in the East. Thank God for chalk in the East, I guess.


East #2 Orlando City SC vs. East #3 Columbus Crew (MLS Season Pass, 4:30)

Since we’ve reached the sadly predictable “FC Dallas is now out of the playoffs” portion of the season, our affections turn to the East, and not just because every other team in the West — Seattle, LAFC, Houston, and SKC — are sh!tbags. It’s because Óscar Pareja’s team is still alive and kicking in the playoffs.

To be honest, I’m starting to understand Boston Bruins fans. You see, near the end of the 1999-2000 NHL season, Ray Bourque, a defenseman who had been with the Boston Bruins since 1979, wanted a trade to a contender.

The Bruins hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1972 and were on track to miss the playoffs that season. So the Bruins traded him to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs didn’t win the Cup for Bourque in 2000, but they did in 2001 and Bourque got his name on the Stanley Cup:

When Bourque had his day with the Cup, he returned to Boston, where a rally was held in front of City Hall and 20,000 Bostonians were present:

If Papi wins MLS Cup with Orlando, maybe there should be a rally in front of Frisco City Hall. Just sayin’.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando, of course. The rally would be even better if it was accompanied by a contract-signing ceremony where Papi signed a contract to return to FCD, complete with contractual commitments from the Hunts on how much they’ll spend on players.

And maybe I’ll win the Mega Millions too.

East #1 FC Cincinnati vs. East #4 Philadelphia Union (MLS Season Pass, 7:00)

This is the Crushers of Dreams Game. Both teams toyed with their 1st-Round opponents in Game 2 and let them hope that there would be a Game 3. In Foxboro, New England fought through 79 scoreless minutes, 34 of them a man down, until Chris Donovan put the Revs out of their misery.

Cincy teased the Red Bulls even more mercilessly. The Red Bulls got Game 2 to a shootout at Red Bull Arena and twice had the winning penalty at their feet… and twice missed. Finally, Cincy stopped playing with their food and put away the winning penalty.

Which, after almost three weeks, brings us to this game. Seriously, Pat Noonan and Jim Curtin could’ve let their squads — well, at least the players that weren’t called up during the international break — take a 10-day vacation and still had a full week’s training for this game. The international break in the middle of the playoffs is the single most unstable thing about the MLS Cup playoffs.

And thank God that that international break is over. The CONCACAF Nations League games were fine, but the Euro 2024 qualifiers were ridiculous. UEFA is a terribly unserious confederation that will have France play Gibraltar in a meaningful match and will determine a place in their continental championship based on how much the big countries run up the score against minnows.

Thanks for making CONCACAF look well-run with that nonsense, UEFA. But at least most players will be well-rested coming into this game and hopefully, no one had any sort of Thanksgiving dinner mishaps.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincy. Frankly, I have no appetite to see Philly advance to the final and roll over like a dog again.


West #4 Houston Dynamo vs. West #8 Sporting Kansas City

Sunday is when the true hatewatching takes place. Two games, four teams, all detestable. And in this game, we get the two most detestable.

Little Brother Orange almost gave us what would’ve been the most hilarious result of the round. They lost to Real Salt Lake in penalties in Game 2, and in Game 3, they found themselves in penalties again. Not only would it have been hilarious for them to get bounced from the playoffs in the first round, but we would’ve gotten a team advancing after two draws and two subsequent wins in penalties.

The Usual Suspects would have lost their minds, but honestly, is winning a best-of-three on two penalty shootouts any less dumb than aggregate goals or worse still, away goals? Seriously, you play 34 games over eight months, you win a bunch of games, and you get to get knocked out of the playoffs because the other team scored more goals in your house than you did in theirs, after a series where you didn’t really have much home-field advantage? Dumb.

You climb the table in the regular season based on winning games, not on goal differential or goals scored. Why should the playoffs be any different?

But neither of these two teams should ever win anything. They suck.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: I really don’t have one. Really.

I have to pick one? Fine. Sporting Kansas City, I guess.

West #2 Seattle Sounders FC vs. West #3 Los Angeles FC

I dislike both of these teams, but next to the teams in the previous match, they’re downright likable.

But not that likable.

I thought about calling two teams “nouveau riche,” but “nouveau riche” implies a time when one wasn’t, well, rich, and that one got to the upper class through luck and pluck from humble beginnings. That applies to neither of these teams, neither of whom has had anything resembling humble beginnings.

They’re the rich kids at school who got new cars at Christmas, who took lavish trips abroad during summer break, who got into colleges as legacy admissions, and who had jobs waiting for them at graduation. They are the people who would be nowhere without other people’s money… and who’ll now be the first to tell you about how their smarts and hard work got them to where they are now.

They are the barneys at the bar in Good Will Hunting.

Image 9
This guy’s dad got him a job at LAFC, even though he knows nothing about soccer

So this game is gonna be the slap-fight between the most privileged and entitled bozos in Major League Soccer on the worst field in the history of Major League Soccer at a stadium where one team has been couchsurfing for 15 years.

The good news is that this game won’t be on FOX, so that shameless starhumping kissass Alexi Lalas won’t be around.

Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: LAFC. Hey, at least we get to see good things happen for Kellyn Acosta and Ryan Hollingshead.

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