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.
Look, let’s get something out of the way before we go any further. Dino Night was goofy, cringey, and straight out of Minor League Baseball. It was also the sort of thing that this team should’ve been doing for
Does it get a lot of people in the stands who may not be 100% clear on the offside rule? Sure. (And by the way, I’m not sure that FIFA is 100% clear on that rule.) But do those “filthy casuals” provide more atmosphere than an empty seat? Hell yeah, they do.
I got to spend plenty of evenings surrounded by a few thousand of my fellow soccer diehards at the Cotton Bowl to know the difference.
And what, do you think that half the people at the AAC for Stars games could explain icing? Of course not. I had a half-season ticket for the Stars many years ago and I don’t think that I could explain that rule. So don’t worry about it.
As for the game… I’d really appreciate it if the team would continue winning games but do so while not looking like Hot Buttered Ass for large stretches of the match. Hell, maybe let’s have a good hour of the FCD clearly looking like the better team and maybe turning a one-goal lead into a two or three-goal lead. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.
But enough complaining. Congrats to the bane of USMNT Twitter, Jesús Ferreira, and everyone’s favorite Abilene High grad, Bernie Kamungo, on their goals, a tip of the cap to VAR for not awarding a sketchy penalty late in the match, and attaboys all around to the team for pulling out the W.
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United (Apple TV+, 9:30)
I miss the old days.
Don’t worry. This isn’t some Gen X screed about how life was so much better when we drank out of the garden hose and rode our bikes without helmets and recorded songs off the radio. (By the way, a word to my fellow Gen Xers: Let’s cut that shit out. Let’s not be Boomers with better PR.)
No, I miss the old days of 2022, when the Sounders were riding the struggle bus all season after winning the CONCACAF Champions League.
Wasn’t it so much fun? One minute, they’re making history, and the next, they’re spending 34 games running around with their pants around their ankles, like they’re some philandering spouse in a French comedy who just got caught where they shouldn’t be.
But they’re back, and they’re not appearing in the Bumfight of the Week slot! It was fun while it lasted.
And their opponent this week, Minnesota, is one with whom they’ve got a bit in common. For one thing, they’re the only two teams that have slain the mighty dragon that is (checks notes) St. Louis City. For another, and more amusingly, they both gave up 1-0 leads last week and got pantsed.
Minnesota got the 1-0 lead in the 58th minute, then gave up two unanswered goals to lose at home to the Fightin’ Papis. Seattle also got a 1-0 lead in the 58th, then gave up four (count ’em, FOUR) unanswered goals in Portland. It got everyone’s favorite coach who cosplays as a middle manager, Brian Schmetzer, all hot and bothered:
Ouch, baby. It’s not often that we get a game with Adrian Heath, and it’s the other coach whose firey utterances get featured here.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. One team’s just ahead of FCD, the other is just behind them. Neither of them should enjoy the taste of victory.
Little Brother Game of the Week
LA Galaxy vs. Austin FC (MLS Season Pass, 9:30)
Your other alternative for MLS After Dark is this week’s Little Brother Game of the Week.
When last we visited with our little brothers down I-35, they were getting their first 0-0 in team history against Vancouver. I’m actually impressed that it took them until their third season to get their first scoreless draw, considering that some teams managed it on their first day:
Things were appreciably worse for the Galaxy last weekend. The supporters’ groups are still boycotting, so their home stadium was taken over by a bunch of black and gold for El Tráfico. Team president Chris Klein is obviously feeling the heat and announced that he’ll step down if the Gals miss the playoffs.
Considering that the team is winless through their first seven games — more than 20% of the season — that sounds like more of a ploy to collect a few more months of paychecks before the inevitable resignation. Either way, I hope his resumé and LinkedIn profile are up-to-date.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Galaxy. Last weekend, I was rooting for them for comedy. This weekend, it’s for disdain… and also for comedy. Austin losing hasn’t stopped being funny yet, the way it almost did with Houston.
“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire (FS1, Sunday at 3:30)
To be honest, none of the other Eastern Conference games really floated my boat. But Atlanta’s in third place and Chicago’s above the playoff line at the moment, so sure, why not?
And we’ll get to watch Thiago Almada wreck shop. That kid is great. He might get to do stuff on the world stage one day.
But the real reason I’m picking this game is that it’s on Sunday.
Being an MLS fan is sometimes an exercise in the Oscar Wilde quote: “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” For years, everybody lamented that MLS games were scattered all over the TV dial and at all different hours. No more. They’re all in one place now and almost all of them start at 7:30 local time.
Of course, since we’re all humans, we’re gonna say “Not like that” when we’re given what we want.
But in this case, there might be something to the complaint. For the first several weeks of the season, we’ve had no Sunday games on most weekends. And at this point in the calendar, we can at least satisfy ourselves with the methadone of the Premier League or Bundesliga or Serie A or La Liga, where the Sunday game is usually a Very Big Club demolishing some poor fools. (But c’mon, I’ve never been down bad enough to watch Ligue 1. Stop it already, beIN Sports.)
But what happens in the summer? We’ll have to watch baseball or some nonsense. Maybe we’ll watch MLS Next Pro. So let’s be grateful for the Sunday games when we get them.
And God willing, let’s be grateful for the Fire’s getting nuked from orbit.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Atlanta. While you kids are getting off my lawn, I’ll tell you a story about how once, the Chicago Fire were Very Big Rivals of the Dallas Burn.
Bumfight of the Week
CF Montréal vs. New York Red Bulls (MLS Season Pass, 6:30)
If I might get a little serious for a moment, I must confess that I had a few reservations about using the word “bumfight” for this slot.
Most of the people we call “bums” are struggling with homelessness and addiction, and they didn’t end up in that situation by choice. If you’re outside on a February night when it’s below freezing and the wind is gusting and you see a “bum” out on the street, you can bet that they didn’t end up there by choice. Circumstances got the better of them, through no fault of their own. There, but for the grace of God, go we all.
However, none of what I just wrote applies to these two clubs. They are the prime architects in their current residence at or near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. CF Montréal last season had a team good enough to turn goat piss into gasoline. They finished second in the East, two points behind the Supporters Shield winners, LAFC, and the top team in the East, Philly, who tied on points.
So what happened? They let Wilfried Nancy walk, and now he’s fourth in East with Columbus. They hired as his replacement Hernán Losada, no stranger to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They traded Kei Kamara, who had nine goals and six assists in 2022, to Chicago for $400,000 in GarberBucks. Kamara now has three goals in six games for the Fire.
And the Red Bulls? I’ll let Matt Doyle take it from here:
So yes, unlike those poor souls that you see on the street, these two teams absolutely deserve your scorn.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw. Honestly, if you’re watching this game instead of the FCD game at the same time, you need your head examined.
Good Guys Game of the Week
New York City FC vs. FC Dallas (Apple TV+, 6:30)
One of the great things about MLS in 2023 is that most teams have their own stadiums, or at least stadiums that their owner controls, even if they have to share with an NFL team. They’re not paying exorbitant rent to someone else, they get a cut of the stadium revenues if not all of them, and they control scheduling.
Not everyone, mind you.
FC Dallas is playing at New York City FC this weekend, which means that we get to play everyone’s favorite party game, “Where Is NYCFC Playing This Week?” And this week, they are not playing at their nominal home stadium, Yankee Stadium. The Yanks are at home this weekend for a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Are they at an actual soccer stadium, Red Bull Arena, while the New York Red Bulls are in Montreal? Heavens to Betsy, no. That would involve going to Jersey.
No, this game will be played at the home of the New York Mets, Citi Field.
As I’ve stated in the past, there is nothing meaner that I can say about this team than to call them the couch surfers of Major League Soccer, bunking down one week at Yankee Stadium, another week at Citi Field, occasionally at Red Bull Arena, and on rare occasions, in East Hartford.
As for the players on the field, does it matter?
Of their top five scorers in 2022, only two are still with the club. Of the other three, one was traded to the Sounders and the other two? Transferred to Spanish sister club Girona.
Nick Cushing is their manager now, but when the bosses at City Football Group have a role for him back in Manchester or Girona, they might end up with some assistant from Melbourne City as his replacement.
In a league that’s continuously moving upward in the world of soccer, where you have better players and more success on the international stage, this club is a throwback to the days of Chivas USA, who got the dross from the big club in Guadalajara and proceeded to usually get their teeth kicked in for most of the nine years.
Oh sure, they say they’ve got plans in the works for their own stadium. Maybe they do. So did Chivas USA, and then one day, Chivas USA was gone when folks in Guadalajara got tired of the whole project.
In fairness to NYCFC, they’ve actually won a championship, but if the tiny sign at Yankee Stadium is any indication, it’s almost an embarrassment to them. Say what you will about Red Bull Leipzig’s farm club across the Hudson, but their ownership is not quite so shameless about making clear their New York operation’s place on the corporate totem pole.