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.
Last Saturday was pretty good for you, the fine, upstanding FC Dallas fan:
- Houston lost in New England 3-0. The last time Bruce Arena punished Ben Olsen like this, both were in Charlottesville and Olsen was late to practice after a Dave Matthews show the night before. Don’t be discouraged, Dynamo fans. I’m sure your ownership’s grand plan to rebuild your club behind a guy who spent a decade turning DC United into junk will work.
- Kansas City went to Commerce City and had a glorious 0-0
drawwin against the Rapids. Supreme Manager for Life Peter Vermes spoke to the media afterward, paid tribute to the glorious point won against the burgundy running dogs of Colorado, and proclaimed that Sporting Kansas City’s march to a treble continues unabated.
- And of course, FC Dallas beat the Galaxy 3-1. Jesús Ferreira had two goals, Alan Velasco had a goal and an assist, Paul Arriola had two assists, and Paxton Pomykal and Ema Twumasi had an assist apiece. In fact, the only member of the front five to not end up on the scoresheet was Sebastian Lletget, but he’s engaged to a wildly popular pop star, so that’s a nice consolation. You know, this factoid about Seba feels like something that the FC Dallas social media folks could mention a little more often, but what do I know?
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
FC Cincinnati vs. Seattle Sounders (Apple TV+, Saturday at 6:30)
There are two games this weekend where both teams are undefeated this season. There’s this one and there’s LAFC-New England on Sunday night. This one is actually more interesting to me for one simple reason:
“Didn’t you just have Seattle in the Bumfight slot a couple of weeks ago?”
You bet I did. But such is the capriciousness of early season games in MLS, a league that embodies the word “capriciousness” on general principle. Seattle has started out the season by nuking Colorado 4-0 and getting a very 2-0 win against RSL, admittedly both at home, but still, when you start off your season by scoring six goals in two matches and conceding none, that’s gonna get attention.
This is of course going to lead many people to declare that “SEATTLE IS BACK.” As an alumnus of the University of Texas and a fan of Longhorn football, who has seen how “TEXAS IS BACK” has become something of a running joke, I would love nothing more than to have the same thing happen to the Sounders.
God willing, the Sounders’ regression to the mean starts on Saturday since they’re playing on the road, on grass, against a team that figured out a few things last year, and has become something of a dark horse pick this year.
Unlike our friends down I-45, Cincy manages to hire not one, but two MLS players from 20 years ago running their organization (GM Chris Albright and Head Coach Pat Noonan) and managed to have both be competent and have neither one be Pat Onstad nor Ben Olsen, so unlike our friends down I-45, they’re on the come-up and they’ve started the season nicely with a win at home against Houston and a creditable draw in Orlando.
They are genuinely more of a feel-good soccer story than that saccharine tripe with Jason Sudeikis that’s also on Apple TV+.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick
FC Cincinnati, because Brian Schmetzer, although he’s currently the best American coach out there, still feels like one of those people who’ll corner you at a fancy party with canapes and an open bar and says, “Oh, you’re a soccer fan? Have you watched that show Ted Lasso? I absolutely love it.”
Little Brother Game of the Week
Real Salt Lake vs. Austin FC (Apple TV+, Saturday at 8:30)
Since Houston is garbage and will be losing against “Bye,” this game is the automatic choice for the Little Brother Game of the Week.
But even though I was presented with a little bit of scarcity for this game, the universe nonetheless provided in abundance, specifically on Tuesday night.
I’m still not sure how Austin managed to get into the best international club competition in the world, the CONCACAF Champions League, but they did. And how did MLS’ other representatives in the CCL do?
- Philadelphia: Went to El Salvador and conceded 0 goals in a 0-0 draw to Alianza and will be returning back home just needing any kind of win to advance. Not great, not bad.
- Orlando: Went to Estadio Universario and conceded 0 goals in a 0-0 draw to Tigres, probably CONCACAF’s best club over the last decade, and will be returning back home just needing a win to advance. A pretty good result against a good club.
- LAFC: Went to Costa Rica, conceded 0 goals, and got the 3-0 win, and will be returning back home with the ability to call up the entire Las Vegas Lights FC team, put them in LAFC shirts and still advance.
- Vancouver: Stayed home, conceded 0 goals, and pounded Real España into a smooth paste 5-0. It would be a bit of a shock if they don’t advance, no matter who gets on the plane to Honduras.
Four games, three on the road in El Salvador, Mexico, and Costa Rica, zero goals conceded. Good job, fellas. And LAFC and Vancouver? You get gold stars.
This brings me to Austin.
What the hell was that? I’m looking at the draw and you clowns got the easiest draw! A team that hasn’t played a competitive match in nine months because Haiti, as is too often the case, is in a state of chaos. The match was moved to the Dominican Republic because Haiti, as is too often the case, is in a state of chaos. And you lost 3-0.
But since Austin fans like to pretend that they’re big-boy soccer fans, tried to act like other factors were in play:
No, my dude, you were not CONCACAF’d. You downed a fifth of vodka in your underwear, got into your car, drove down the street, wrapped your car around a tree, and then while the cops were hauling you off to jail…
And now, having shown your ass to the entire world while you were in the Caribbean, you get to go Utah. In March. Where it’ll be below 40 degrees at kickoff. It’ll be like jumping into an ice bath after a workout.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick
Real Salt Lake, so that the Austin fans can complain that their team was altitude’d or cold-weather’d or some other similar nonsense.
“Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Charlotte FC vs. Atlanta United (Fox and Apple TV+, Saturday at 11 AM)
The MLS weekend kicks off with these two nouveau riche assholes. I put it that way because:
- “Nouveau riche asshole” is pretty much the entire ethos of Charlotte in general. You grow from nothing in the last 50 years and you do so by being a financial services hub, these things are gonna happen.
- Atlanta has been nothing in American soccer in the history of forever, gets an expansion team, gets some nice attendances, gets Jermaine Dupri to come out to a few games because he’s got nothing better to do, wins a championship, and acts like they invented the game. Nouveau riche asshole.
If MLS had anybody with any semblance of culture working for them, they could hype this up as “Chick-Fil-A vs. Bojangles” or “Atlanta BBQ vs. Charlotte BBQ” or “Coca-Cola vs. Cheerwine.” They could send one of their staffers to Greenville, South Carolina, almost equidistant between Atlanta and Charlotte on I-85, and do a “man on the street” interviews where people pick whether they like Atlanta or Charlotte more.
They have done none of this.
So far as I have ever noticed, there has never been any sort of acknowledgment that these two teams are each other’s closest rivals. It’s weird to me. LA and San Jose, Seattle and Portland, Houston and Dallas, Philly and everyone with human decency… they all came out of the gate ready to scrap.
But Atlanta and Charlotte? Meh. Each of them is treating it like a midweek game in Columbus, and so is the league.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick
Draw. If neither of these two teams seems to care too much about playing each other, why should I? Just go kick the ball around on the plastic grass in Charlotte, everybody have fun, and nobody get hurt.
Bumfight of the Week
Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy (MLS Season Pass, Saturday at 7:30)
It brings so much joy to put this game in this slot. But it’s well-deserved.
Both are winless, although SKC had the aforementioned glorious draw in Commerce City against the Rapids. But then again, neither has actually played a home game yet, so one might argue that I should be more charitable to them.
Not a chance.
When the Galaxy have been overshadowed in their own city by the Sons of Chivas USA, when their fans are threatening to boycott games because of their inept front office staff, and when their defense should have their highlights set to “Yakety Sax,” you kick them when they’re down.
And when SKC still pays Peter Vermes to work through his anger management issues on the touchline, when they pay a group of marginally talented donkeys to kick anything and everything that moves, and they’re still losing, you kick them when they’re down.
You jackasses may have seven MLS Cups, five Supporters Shields, and six Open Cups between the two of you, but on this night, you’re just a couple of down-on-their-luck drunks with plenty of stories about how you used to be big shots in this town, fighting over a half-eaten sandwich from the dumpster in an alley off of Skid Row.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick
Draw. Let them both stay down.
Good Guys Game of the Week
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas (MLS Season Pass, Saturday at 4:00)
After a mediocre home stand to start the season — the loss against Minnesota sucked but the win over the Galaxy was great — our heroes head out on the road for the first time this season to a place where they’ve not had much success over the years: BC Place.
Mind you, it’s not a house of horrors like Qwest/CenturyLink/Lumen Field in Seattle or the Home Depot Center/StubHub Center/Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson have been, but at least they have the excuse of playing teams that are pretty good whenever they go to those places.
The Whitecaps? They usually stink. But still, FC Dallas last won in Vancouver in 2018 and have lost every year in Vancouver since then, save for 2020. Their previous win? 2012. Only a worldwide pandemic has kept FC Dallas from their customary stumble at BC Place.
So this does not bode well for our boys. The good news is that Vancouver played on Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League while FCD was off.
The bad news is that they 5-0’d while not really breaking too much of a sweat, so Vanni Sartini can play his starters against FCD and send the MLS Next Pro team down to Honduras to hold down a 5-0 lead.
Speaking of Sartini, I’ve had a little fun in this column with his gameday attire. A couple of weeks ago, I accused him of looking like a middle-aged dad out running errands on a Saturday. And I stand by that.
But let me ask a question here: How often do we see Nico Estévez wearing a sport coat or a shirt with a collar while on the touchline during a game? And when was the last time that the FC Dallas social media commented on Nico’s “fits,” the way they did with Luchi?
I guess what I’m saying here is that Luchi Gonzalez messed with our minds a little here. Until Luchi came along in 2019, the best-dressed coach in this team’s history was Dave Dir. But after Coach Dir, the best we usually got from his successors was a branded polo. We weren’t seeing the attire that we see on the touchlines in England or Italy.
Luchi starts bringing a little style to the touchline and suddenly, everybody loses their damn minds. The team’s social media team start commenting on players’ gameday outfits and I start crapping on Vanni Sartini’s attire in this column.
And really, I was commenting on his attire when I could’ve been commenting on any of the following things:
- Most folks would forget that they’re even in the league if they asked to name all the teams in MLS
- Their two closest neighbors don’t care about them all that much
- The other two Canadian teams in MLS don’t care about them all that much
- The high point in their club’s MLS existence was when they sold Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich
- They’re not good enough usually to even make the playoffs, but not bad enough to be truly noteworthy
- You can pencil them in at #17 in a power rankings list without ever seeing them play and not ever be too far off
I could’ve talked about any of those things, but instead of those, I was ragging on Vanni Sartini’s apparent aversion to shirts with collars. My apologies, Vanni.