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.
Let’s all be thankful that that’s behind us. When you can’t break down other teams’ defenses, when you can’t finish your opportunities, and when your backline looks shakier than a college student after their fifth margarita at Taco Cabana, then bad stuff will happen.
On a happier note, a few hours down I-35, the following was happening:
Way to go, clowns. I’m trying to come up with the last time that an expansion team won their first-ever game against a playoff team the previous season, but you know, I just can’t. Say what you want about the Loons, but at least they were a playoff team last year.
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
LAFC vs. Portland Timbers (Fox and Apple TV+, Saturday at 3:30)
Honestly, this is about as good as it’s going to get for this category. Yes, I know that Portland missed the playoffs last year. But the rest of the matchups this week aren’t exactly compelling. Sure, you’ve got St. Louis City hosting their first-ever home game, but they’re playing Charlotte. Honestly, who gives a rip about that? So instead, we’ll go with the Fox game. Lazy? Sure. But sometimes, they get it right.
And while I’d love to crack on Gareth Bale one last time, he managed to do something that Carlos Vela didn’t do last year: Score a playoff goal. In fact, he scored more in the MLS Cup Final than Carlos Vela has done in a playoff game since two goals against the Galaxy in the 2019 playoff, the only playoff game in which he has ever scored. No wonder why he wasn’t called in for a World Cup held in November and December.
But this is March, so he’ll probably go crazy on Saturday. And he’ll be playing in front of the home fans. And because honestly, Portland ain’t that good. And because Portland had a short week after playing Monday Night Fútbol against SKC.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Portland, not because I actually like them, but because it’ll be funny when LAFC goes from having a pregame championship ceremony to faceplanting against the Timbers. And because:
Little Brother Game of the Week
New England vs. Houston (MLS Season Pass, Saturday at 6:30)
Houston picked up where they left off last year by losing yet again. Tough start for their new boss, but hey, when you hire Ben Olsen, who was the connective tissue between DC United’s glory years and DC United’s current incarnation as a running joke, these things might happen. At least San Jose had the good sense to hire a recently-fired coach who actually did have a couple of good seasons in his last gig.
Seriously, Ben Olsen is the platonic ideal of the good ol’ boys club in US soccer that every dork on USMNT Twitter complains about. He ended up in DC in 1998 because his old college coach, Bruce Arena, was the coach of DC United. After he retired, he immediately got an assistant gig with DC United for no apparent reason. And then, when Curt Onalfo immediately ran the team into the ground, did DC United look far and wide for a new head coach? No, they promoted Olsen, less than a year after retiring as a player. He then got another 10 full seasons in charge, even though his teams were usually junk.
“But he won the 2013 Open Cup!”
Yeah, the same year they finished bottom of the East. And then, after DC United finally came to their senses about his relative lack of competence, ESPN hired him as an analyst so that he could give a dull monotone recitation of the plainly obvious.
And now, for no apparent reason, he’s now landed the gig with our little pals down I-45. He must interview really well. Or maybe the Dynamo’s technical director spent three seasons sitting next Ben Olsen on the DC United bench. Who’s to say?
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: New England, even though they’re coached by Bruce Arena, who’s responsible for almost 30 years of Ben Olsen’s presence in US soccer, as UVA’s coach, as DC’s coach, and as the USMNT coach.
“Pretend to About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati (MLS Season Pass, Saturday at 6:30)
This is also the Good Vibes Eastern Conference Game of the Week. On the one side, we’ve got your defending Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Champions, led by your hero, my hero, every FCD fan’s hero, Óscar Pareja. On the other side, we’ve got FC Cincinnati, who were 30 kinds of dogshit for their first three seasons of existence, only to get off the mat and make the playoffs last year behind the scoring of Brenner and Young American Flavor of the Week, Brandon Vazquez.
See? Nothing but good vibes. And if you want to kill time before the FCD game, this is the game to watch.
But I don’t do good vibes in this column. And I’m an Óscar Pareja apologist. So Cincitucky must go down and they must go down hard. It is no less than what they deserve for the following crimes against humanity:
- Being Pete Rose honks
- That crap they call “chili”
- Giving the world Jerry Springer as someone we should care about…
You know, I gotta be honest with you, dear reader. That list felt kind of forced. See? I can’t really hate on FC Cincinnati. They’re so adorable. But, I’ve got a pro-Papi bias, so they still gotta go down.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando. Seriously, if you thought there was any doubt about this, you’ve never read this column before.
Bumfight of the Week
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Apple TV+, Saturday at 9:30)
This was an obvious choice for the Bumfight slot. Neither made the playoffs last year. Both have a pretty irregular recent history of making the playoffs. And both kicked off their 2023 seasons by coming from a 1-0 lead to lose their openers 2-1. However, the Earthquakes did it in a more hilarious fashion:
I’m sure that new Earthquakes coach Luchi Gonzalez was more stunned by this development than anyone else since he managed to never lose an opener in Dallas, not even in the 2021 season that got him shitcanned. Welcome to San Jose, Luchi!
As for the Whitecaps, they were cruising along pretty nicely at home against RSL and had a 1-0. Then Pablo Mastroeni gave his boys a real rousing word salad of junk that he must’ve read in some pop psychology books, and they responded with two second-half goals to win, albeit not quite as dramatically as Atlanta did.
So now, we’ve got an early-season matchup of two favorites to do the unthinkable: Not manage to make the wildly inclusive Western Conference playoffs. This will truly be a game of contrasts. No, I’m not talking on the field. Both these teams are junk. I am of course talking about the contrast between Luchi Gonzalez’s stylish fits, perfect for overcoaching and counting the number of passes, and Vanni Sartini’s “Dad you run into at the Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon” outfits.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, but in the most hilarious fashion possible, like an own-goal equalizer in second-half stoppage time
Good Guys Game of the Week
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy (MLS Season Pass, Saturday at 7:30)
This game has traditionally been one of the annual highlights of the FC Dallas home schedule.
Is it because it’s between two of the oldest teams in Major League Soccer? No.
Is it because these two teams have had a pretty even record against one another, at 36 wins for FCD, 39 for the Galaxy, and 13 draws? No.
Is it because the Galaxy, as the only team with five MLS Cups, is one that people care about? No.
Is it because the Galaxy has employed Jorge Campos and Carlos Hermosillo and Luis Hernández and David Beckham and Chicharito? Absolutely. This is the game in which the intrepid FCD sales staff never has to work too hard to sell and will usually have a mostly full Toyota Stadium.
Don’t tell anyone that Chicharito is injured and won’t be playing in this game. And he told us that he’ll be out for 2-5 weeks, much to the chagrin of the Galaxy coaching staff and media relations department. Social media sucks generally. Without social media, how else would we have this?
But social media is good for one thing: Giving pro athletes with sufficient amounts of money and influence the ability to thumb their noses at their teams and the ability to talk directly to their fans. NBA Twitter is half the reason that people watch the NBA. Greg Vanney was probably gonna put no-so-subtle pressure on Chicharito to come back before he was 100%, but thanks to Instagram, he’s sort of locked into Chicha’s 2-5 week schedule.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy’s actual best player, Riqui Puig, will be at Toyota Stadium and he’ll be there with a brand-new Designated Player contract. You can tell that this is a new era for FC Dallas because in the past, I would’ve immediately made a cheap joke about his earning more than the entirety of the FCD roster. But no more. Hell, the highest-paid player on the field might be wearing an FCD shirt.
So, uh, it would be nice if that player showed on Saturday night why he’s got that contract. No pressure, Jesús.