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.
It feels like a month since we had a full weekend of MLS league games. Oh sure, a bunch of teams spent the international break playing friendlies, or in the “it’s a friendly but it’s on TV so we gotta play our starters” Leagues Cup Showcase.
But there were two actual league games, neither of which directly affected FCD, but were still a refreshing palate cleanser from watching an endless parade of international friendlies and the UEFA Nations League. And if you’re a fan of watching bad things happen to the Seattle Sounders — and who isn’t? — you got to watch them creep ever closer to missing the playoffs.
Toronto vs. Miami (ESPN+, 6:30)
In the last year, the following things have happened to these two teams:
- Toronto FC dropped a metric ton — excuse me, tonne — of money on high-level players and an accomplished head coach.
- Inter Miami got craphammered by the league for cheatin’ and got fined $2 million and lost $2.2 million in allocation money for this season and next.
So of course, Toronto has already been eliminated from the playoffs while Miami is currently sitting in the last playoff spot in the East. God, I love this stupid league so much.
This game has zero impact on FCD, but I have a soft spot for Inter Miami and I’m a little envious of them. Is it because they’ve got David Beckham as a minority owner? Hell no. The hell with him.
I envy them because when they were looking to build their stadium, they inspired no less than Billy Corben, noted documentary filmmaker and proud Miamian, to make a hit piece against the stadium deal. And he got David Samson, former Miami Marlins president, to appear in the video to tell people that the Inter Miami stadium is a bigger screwjob than the one that his former employers gave to Miami!
It takes hard work to piss off prominent locals like that in the pursuit of some really great real estate, but Inter Miami went the extra mile. That shows ambition.
Of course, I can laugh about it because the deal got approved. And it’s not my team anyway. But can you imagine that with FCD? Of course not.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Miami, because MLS really needs a little more brazen shadiness, and I love that David Beckham is the face of such lawlessness.
New England vs. Atlanta (UniMás/TUDN/Twitter, 12:30)
This is another one that you can file under “God, I love this stupid league.”
12 months ago, New England was on its way to a league-record number of points in a season. And now, they’re in 11th place in the East and they need a bunch of things to go right for them in the last two weeks of the season to make the playoffs. Would you see this in any other soccer league? Of course you wouldn’t.
Atlanta isn’t down as bad, but they’re on the wrong side of the playoff line at this late date. Since they’re only two points out, they don’t need as many things to go right, but if you’re in eighth place coming into the penultimate game of the season, you’re not that good.
And if your star player is flipping catering tables and beefing with the coach, well, good luck to you.
Frankly, it couldn’t happen to a nicer club.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: New England
Colorado vs. FCD (UniMás/TUDN/Twitter, 2:30)
For the last 12 years, I’ve been a resident of Colorado, and some years, this game has been the only FCD game that I’ve attended during the season. And since 2014, I haven’t made the trek over to the former chemical weapons depot on which Dick’s Sporting Goods Park was built and returned home after seeing an FCD win. Since then, four draws and four losses. C’mon guys, gimme a damn break here.
The Rapids have caused us FCD fans more pain and suffering over the years than another team has. Five playoff meetings, five Rapids wins, each time where the Burn/FCD was the higher seed, and each in its own infuriating fashion: Sweep in 1997, sudden-death in the series tiebreaker in 2002, penalty kicks in 2005 and 2006, an own goal in MLS Cup 2010.
And the infuriating thing is this: It’s not like FCD has been getting beaten by evil geniuses here. MLS Cup 2010 was literally the only thing they’ve ever won in 27 seasons. They’ve missed the playoffs almost as often as they’ve made them, which is a real achievement, considering how many seasons have had 60-80% of the league making the playoffs.
And this is because they’re cheap and they’re dumb. They don’t spend any money on players. They don’t spend money on promotions. They do dumb shit like trading Kyle Beckerman to RSL, employing Pablo Mastroeni as coach, and trading Kellyn Acosta to LAFC.
I hate these clowns so much, and if there were any justice in this world, FCD will beat them down on Saturday afternoon.
Charlotte vs. Philadelphia (ESPN+, 4:30)
Let me give credit to Charlotte FC: They don’t suck too bad. That might be damning with faint praise, but they’re an expansion team! They fired their first coach three months into their inaugural season! That coach said before the season that their players stink! They’ve got an abbreviation that is a never-ending source of joy for people with juvenile senses of humor.
And here they are! We’re in the next-to-last weekend of the season and they are still mathematically alive for the playoffs! And they’ve got a game in hand on most everyone else! OK, sure, they need a bunch of help, but they’re still doing better than, say, Toronto. They are that Paul Rudd meme come to life in Major League Soccer:
Nothing but good vibes in the Queen City (North Carolina edition)!
But this is Major League Soccer, where good vibes eventually run into the brickiest of brick walls, and we’ll have a nice laugh at you when it happens. Or at least, I will.
CLT FC’s brick wall is coming to town this weekend in the form of the Philadelphia Union.
The Union has made a point lately of dropping bombs on the opposition, like they were suddenly joined the Philadelphia Police Department. (Google it, kids.) And FCD is done with them for the season, we all get to take a certain perverse pleasure in watching them dismember their opposition on teevee.
My favorite part is when Philly is up by three or four goals and the opposition’s play-by-play guy is trying to put a happy face on what’s transpiring and talk up how their team can get back into the match. No, sweetheart, it ain’t going down like that.
Oh well, CLT FC, at least you’ve still got the Bojangles sponsorship.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Philly, because I would so enjoy seeing them win the Supporters Shield over LAFC.
Cincinnati vs. Chicago (ESPN+, 6:30)
As an old-school Dallas Burn fan, I love to see the Chicago Fire down at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Of course, I’m annoyed that they are in the Eastern Conference and have been so for the last 20 years, but geography is what it is, I guess.
Hell, they even put Houston and KC in the Eastern Conference for a hot minute. That shit was crazy.
And as we’ve seen with every other professional sport in North America, it’s not like anyone cares about geography. Why are the Cowboys in the NFC East? Because of rivalries with the other teams, which is what fans care about.
Whatever. The Fire sucks, which I like. And they seem to be in a rut of doing dumb stuff, which I also like. And I might be one of the few Dallas fans that still care about the old Brimstone Cup rivalry, but as long as I’m writing this column, I can still celebrate their eating shit on a weekly basis.
So you bet your ass that I’m gonna be rooting for the boys from Porkopolis, who discovered that shit-eating is not a permanent condition and that you can take some steps to stop the horror.
Steps like “not hiring second-rate Dutch coaches,” “getting rid of USL caliber players on your roster, no matter how much you loved them when they played for your USL team,” and “signing young talented players.”
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Cincy, because I like watching the Chicago Fire sucking.
Columbus vs. New York Red Bulls (ESPN+, 6:30)
If you had told me 25 years ago that I’d be rooting for the team formerly known as the MetroStars over the Crew in the year 2022, my first response probably would’ve been, “Cool, but do I have a flying car?” And the answer would be “no,” because flying cars are a bad idea. Imagine all those idiot drivers on the roads now operating in three dimensions. Imagine the loss of life because of a crash after some dipshit was texting and flying.
But I digress. I am indeed rooting for Red Bulls in this match for a couple of reasons:
- Caleb Porter. He’s a schmuck. He was a schmuck in Portland, and he’s a schmuck now. I want to see the “Caleb Porter fired by Columbus Crew” headline at ESPN.com. The thing is that a lot of Columbus fans want to see it.
- The Crew have been way more successful. They’ve won all sorts of trophies, including two MLS Cups, one just two years ago. If there’s one thing I like, it’s seeing successful teams brought low, especially by plucky little upstart teams from the Greater Tri-State Area.
I know that we’ve got the reflex to automatically hate on all things New York, but consider that as NYCFC’s fans have reminded us over and over again, they’re not in New York, but New Jersey. And we like New Jersey better, right? They gave us Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and The Sopranos.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Red Bulls, but this game has no impact on FCD and frankly, I had a hard time writing anything about this one. Root for Columbus, if you like. They’re actually OK. Or maybe a nice, exciting high-scoring draw. This is America. You’re free to do what you like.
Montreal vs. DC United (ESPN+, 6:30)
This is the “hammer vs. nail” game of the weekend. I personally find it more than a little amusing that Wayne Rooney took the DC job. They’re dead last in the league, and it wasn’t all Hernán Losada’s fault. They’re beyond horrible.
Then again, you wonder why DC United wanted to hire Wayne Rooney as a coach. I get why they had him as a player. But soccer is the least coach-centric sport of all the major team sports, and nobody buys a ticket to watch a coach skulk up and down the sideline. And he showed at Derby County that he wasn’t exactly a managerial prodigy. He barely got them out of relegation the first year and got them relegated the second year.
Maybe Coleen Rooney was right to not join her husband in DelMarVa. Sure, everyone’s blamed it on the fact that she’s a C-list celeb in the UK and that no one would know or care who she was in Washington. But maybe she also realized that it’s a lot to uproot one’s life and move to another continent for your husband’s job, which’ll last maybe two years because he’s just not good at it?
At the other end of the competence spectrum, is CF Montréal. Sure, we make a lot of jokes about their stupid and unnecessary rebrand, but they are legitimately good. If the Union weren’t out here, taking people’s souls, they’d be on their way to the Eastern Conference crown.
But they wouldn’t be feted for their excellence and they’re not now. Why? I think it’s that whole Montreal thing.
This league does English language marketing and social media. They do Spanish language marketing and social media. French? Nah. All of Montreal’s games are on French-language TV in Canada, but only half of them are on the big English-language sports network, TSN. (But TSN carries all the Toronto and Vancouver.)
So the fact that they’re one of the three or four best teams in the league has kind of flown under the radar. Maybe they’ve got a French-Canadian Alexi Lalas proclaiming them to be “un superclub,” but we’d never know it because the actual Alexi Lalas is too busy pleasuring himself over Toronto and Atlanta and Seattle.
So this is your chance to be an savvy MLS fan. Put some gravy and cheese curds on your french fries, make a Pastrami sandwich and pretend that it’s Montreal smoked meat, and tune into this game. Watch Montreal disassemble DC and laugh at that rosbif that DC hired to be their coach.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Montreal, because watching bad things happen to DC United will never not be fun. Yes, tell us again about all those trophies you won 20 years ago.
San Jose vs. Minnesota (ESPN+, 9:00)
I gotta be honest with you. I was ready to dump on the Earthquakes yet again because it’s so easy to do.
But then I thought: You know, you really want them to win this week because they’re playing the Loons, and frankly, it would be funny as hell if the Loons went from third in the Western Conference a few weeks back to being out of the playoffs completely.
At the very least, a San Jose result would help FCD in their quest for a first-round home playoff game.
So I’m gonna say nice things about the San Jose Earthquakes. I appreciate you, San Jose Earthquakes. I appreciate the way that you provided employment to Chris Wondolowski, even after his best playing days were behind him. And that his playing days are completely behind him, I appreciate that you’ve given him a gig as an assistant coach. Is he any good at it? I don’t know. But if it keeps him from having to take a Walmart greeter’s job to make ends meet, I’m all for it.
I appreciate that you hired Luchi Gonzalez. Now, things didn’t work out for Luchi in Frisco. He might not have been ready for the big chair and well, he was kinda sabotaged by the sale of Thiago Santos. But he brought a certain something to the touchline, a certain style. Sure, FCD wins more games now and is doing pretty damn well this season, but Luchi’s successor occasionally dresses like somebody’s dad, out doing the grocery shopping on the weekend.
I appreciate your game telecasts. If it weren’t for them, I might not appreciate Mark Followill and Steve Davis on the mic for FCD telecasts as much as I do. I might not say, “Jesus Tapdancing Christ, what a bunch of homers” nearly as often as I do.
Most of all, I would very much appreciate it very much if you were to beat Minnesota United on Saturday night, not just because it would help FCD’s quest for a first-round home playoff game, because it would help put the Houston Dynamo where they belong: In the cellar. And as I recall, your fans don’t care for the Dynamo very much either.
Jefe the Appreciator’s rooting pick: San Jose, because their blue uniforms are also very sharp.
Vancouver vs. Austin (ESPN+, 9:00)
I’ll cut to the chase: Vancouver has to win this game. Austin is five points ahead of FCD with two matches to go. They’re also going to win MLS’ very dumb first tiebreaker, total wins. So FCD has to finish clear of them in points, and for that to happen, FCD has to win both remaining games, and Austin has lose both.
Now, you might be saying, “Hey, FCD’s in the playoffs. As long as the get the home game in the first round, it’s all good, right?” Yeah, maybe, but I am personally a fan of finishing as high as you possibly can, so as long as second place is within reach, that’s what we should hope for, right? Moreover, finishing second means guaranteeing a potential second-round game at the friendly confines of Toyota Stadium.
Unfortunately for us, one piece of the puzzle is that Vancouver has to win on Saturday night. Well, they’re not very good, but they’re still mathematically alive for the playoffs, so they have something to fight for, and hey, they’re at home!
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Vancouver, and really, even if FCD shits the bed in Commerce City, it’ll still be fun to watch Austin lose.
LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake (ESPN+, 9:00)
When you’re a team with five championships in 26 years, a run of seven years without a championship can seem like intolerable cruelty.
For those of us who root for a team with zero championships in 26 years, that notion seems silly, but if you peer into the dark world of LA Galaxy fandom, you find — well first, you’ll find lots of jokes at the expense of their rivals in downtown LA, but you’ll also find a little bit of angst over this dry run, which has mostly coincided with the emergence of said downtown LA rival.
They are a bit cheered, however, at their recent run of form, which has seen them lose only once since the middle of August, spurred by great play from Riqui Puig and a nice goalscoring run by Chicharito, who has eight goals in that stretch.
First, I enjoy watching the Galaxy run around with their pants around their ankles, just on general principle. Second, the last thing I want and the last thing that any of us should want is an LA Galaxy that has figured a few things out at this point.
Fortunately, they’re not in yet and they don’t have a home playoff game yet, but we need for the Western Conference below FCD to turn into a crab bucket, where everybody trying to climb up drags everyone down.
RSL, we need you to xDAWG your way to a victory on Saturday night. I mean, you’re outside the playoffs and you want back in, right? The Galaxy are standing in your way. Go do that voodoo that you do. Pester and hassle every single Galaxy player, thwart every ambition that they have, get a goal against the run of play, and get the hell out, having stolen three points.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: RSL, because the Galaxy need to be knocked back down into the bucket a bit.
NYCFC vs. Orlando (ESPN+, noon)
Guess where this game is being played?
That’s right, kids, Not Yankee Stadium! More precisely, it’s at Red Bull Arena. I suppose that I should be grateful that it’s being played somewhere with a large rectangular field, instead of a narrow field at a baseball stadium with temporary grass placed over the base paths and a mile of space and a pitcher’s mount between the stands and the touchline.
If someone wants to make a point about the general jankiness of American soccer, all they have to do is point at NYCFC. The league wanted to improve its presence and credibility in the Five Boroughs over what they had with the MetroStars and Red Bulls, and instead, they’ve got Man City’s farm club who play at three different home stadiums this season and whose coach, fresh off a championship, left for a gig in Belgium. I guess the league’s owners didn’t learn a damn thing from Chivas USA’s failures.
Anyway, that team is “hosting” my favorite non-FCD team, your Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Champions, Orlando City. In case anyone is super-duper slow and haven’t realized this yet, they’re my favorites non-FCD team in this league because they employ Óscar Pareja.
So when a team that I absolutely think is horrible for the league meets my favorite non-FCD team, what do you think is the verdict?
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Orlando, and I hope that everyone’s family came through the hurricane OK.
Portland vs. LAFC (ABC, 2:00)
This game epitomizes “hatewatching.” You really, really hope that both teams could lose this one.
Your hosts are the team that formerly employed Caleb Porter, currently employs Giovanni Savarese and Diego Chará, and are owned by an organization that looked the other way on sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Your visitors? Well, they don’t have quite the same rap sheet and general level of odiousness, but it would be fun to watch them go down because it’s always fun to see teams get knocked off their pedestals, especially when those pedestals are partially self-constructed.
This season, we’ve heard the words “greatest team ever” applied to them by people who should really know better. We’ve seen their social media account speculated on a league points record. (They’re not going to get it.) One of their fans even tried to step to me on Twitter about FCD’s lack of championships in 26 years, and when I pointed out that his club had won the exact same number, the best he could do was “ask me in 26 years.”
Such presumptuousness should be punished harshly, preferably by winning jack and squat.
So no, I don’t want either team to win. I want both sides to run around for 90 minutes plus stoppage time, maybe score a couple of goals apiece, and then go home with a point apiece. It’s good for FCD and it’s good for America.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Draw, but honestly, if a match happens and no one is tuned because they’re all watching the NFL at the same time, did it really happen?
Kansas City vs. Seattle (FS1, 4:00)
BUMFIGHT. OF. THE. WEEK. Really, it brings me so much joy to write that about this match. And normally, bumfights don’t have such high stakes, but this one does.
For 14 years of their existence, more than half the league’s existence, one thing has been constant: the Seattle Sounders have made the playoffs every year. The last time that MLS had playoffs without the Sounders in it was in the final year of George W. Bush’s presidency. And this streak, God willing, will not come to an end at the hands of Sporting Kansas City.
You see, friends, much as I would like to see Seattle’s playoff streak finally come to an end, I don’t want a single good thing for SKC, not even a single point in a draw that would finally finish the Sounders.
In fact, I would be perfectly happy for the deed to be done by other teams’ results. But SKC doesn’t get to inflict the final wound.
Fight hard, Sounders! You’re dead not yet. Don’t let those clowns spoil your party!
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Seattle, but really, I want them to build up as much hope as possible in their fans, only for it to be crushed on Decision Day.
Nashville vs. Houston (ESPN+, 7:30)
The final game of the weekend is one of the last games for Nashville as a member of the Western Conference. MLS announced this week that Nashville will be playing in the Eastern Conference next year and will be replaced in the West by St. Louis City.
To be quite honest, I never understood why Nashville was in the West in the first place. It makes no damn sense. You’re keeping away from their nearby teams in Atlanta and Cincinnati and Charlotte for what reason exactly?
I can only guess that they didn’t want to move Chicago to the West for whatever reason. But that also means that Chicago’s gonna be in a different conference than St. Louis, with whom they’ve had a few sports rivalries over the years.
(This is now the second time I’ve talked about the Chicago Fire’s conference placement in this column. Bring back the Central Conference, IMHO.)
Of course, it’s obvious that Nashville has to go down in this game. Unfortunately for us, that would require that our old friends from Bayou City not be so damn comical for once and do FCD a solid.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Houston, though that feels like rooting for the Ewoks at this point.