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.
That was particularly satisfying, no? The FCD game had everything: A comeback, two saved penalties (although one of them didn’t count because Maarten Paes had the temerity to lift up his left foot by two inches before the shot), and another penalty and a red card waved off by VAR because of offside.
But in the end, the fine, upstanding fellas from FC Dallas walked away with a win, even if it wasn’t a work of art.
But the most amazing thing to happen on Saturday night was in St. Louis. In 27 years, no team in its first season had managed to start its existence with a perfect 12 points in its first four games, not the 1996 LA Galaxy, not the 1998 Chicago Fire, not the 2009 Seattle Sounders, nobody. That changed in St. Louis on Saturday night.
Everybody in the American soccer media is trying to figure out how this happened. But I don’t really care. In a five-car pileup, you don’t start with ask how it happened, you take care of the injured, then you figure out the cause later.
Right now, you start with beating the soccer team from the city that gave us The Best Fans in Baseball™ and then figure out that other crap later.
EL SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana)
Real Salt Lake vs. St. Louis City SC (Apple TV+, 8:30)
America’s got a few places that have meant more to the history of the game in this country than others: Fall River, Massachusetts… Kearny, New Jersey… Portland, Oregon… Dallas, Texas… St. Louis, Missouri.
St. Louis has produced so many players that have worn the Red, White, and Blue, it’s given us clubs that have won a total of ten Open Cups, and the University of St. Louis has won more NCAA national championships — ten — than any other school. If you want to call them America’s Soccer Capital, I won’t argue with you.
But Kansas City might:
But aside from the sort of jackassery we’ve come to expect from the Team Formerly Known as the Wiz, it’s pretty hard to dispute that St. Louis has a pretty strong case. (One could wonder out loud why it took them 27 years to finally get a team in America’s most successful professional soccer league, but that’s the subject for another time.)
And that strong claim is exactly the problem. As mentioned earlier, St. Louis already has one group of self-important fans that like to remind a nation how great they are. We don’t need St. Louisans popping off incessantly about their greatness in another sport. We don’t know need more ink spilled or helpless electrons murdered to sanctimoniously tell us how their team does it The Right Way or whatever.
Just be crap or forgettable or whatever. We’ve already been suffering through Seattle fans’ reign of self-importance for over a decade now. We don’t really need another team’s fans acting like their shit doesn’t stink.
Sadly, the team to attempt to bring them back to earth this week is Real Salt Lake.
Look, I don’t understand this team. Every time I watch them, they hardly look competitive in that game. And through some tactical wizardry best known as “some bullshit happens,” they often end up with a result. But this is what you get when you hire the random number generator known as Pablo Mastroeni. It worked well enough to keep the Rapids in contention for the 2016 Supporters Shield for 33 games.
What I’m saying is that betting on MLS for degenerates, and betting on RSL is even more so. You might as well just bet on coin flips. But fortunately, this is not a betting column.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Some bullshit happens. In other words, Real Salt Lake wins.
Little Brother Game of the Week
Houston Dynamo vs. New York City FC (MLS Season Pass, 7:30)
As amusing as it would’ve been to put Austin in this slot as their reward for losing the Battle for FCD Little Brother Supremacy last week in Houston, our orange-clad pals deserve some shine for their display of dominance in the fight to be Texas’ #2 club.
Their reward? An appearance in this slot. But it’s fitting since they’re playing MLS’ ultimate little brother club, New York City FC.
Look, I’ve ragged on NYCFC plenty in this column, but really…
- when you’re a club that’s the “sister club” of a much larger club, which itself is a glorified sport-swashing operation that might soon be in some trouble with UEFA for financial shenanigans,
- when you don’t have a home of your own and you’ve played league games in more stadiums in the last decade of your existence than any of the original nine clubs who started play in 1996,
- when your preferred home stadium is a baseball stadium and your second-choice stadium is a baseball stadium,
- when your entire reason for being is for MLS to have a club playing in the Five Boroughs and New Yorkers don’t even want to come to your games, even though you won the championship two years ago, and
- when you are giving away all of your good players in the offseason
…I’m gonna call you East Coast Chivas USA just to be mean and because it’s not wrong.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: NYCFC, because I’ll still root for you over the sorry-ass Houston Dynamo. You could have frisbee dogs at halftime and shoot them right before the start of the second half, and I’ll still root for you over the Dynamo.
“Let’s Pretend to Care About the Eastern Conference” Game of the Week
Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United (MLS Season Pass, 6:30)
Normally, this is where I’d preview the best game of the weekend between two Eastern Conference teams that you’d normally not give two craps about. But honestly, all the other games aren’t that interesting. Mind you, this one would normally likely be over pretty quickly, since Atlanta’s would be pounding Columbus like a veal cutlet.
But not this week.
Back in Ye Olden Days of MLS 1.0, MLS didn’t used to break for international breaks. Hell, they’d play through the World Cup. But you know, in those days, teams were mostly made up of players that weren’t any good. You’d have a guy or two missing here or there, but generally, it was almost all the same guys as last week.
Somewhere along the way, MLS decided to stop being a warmed-over NASL and decided to do away with the shootout, and decided to stop play for international breaks. They also started signing players that would actually get called up by their national teams, so it made sense.
For whatever reason, MLS isn’t doing that this week. Anthony Hudson obliged by calling up a team of almost entirely Euro-based players for CONCACAF Nations League, but everyone else? They’re calling up whomever they want or need, so the league, in a moment of self-awareness, published a list of call-ups, and it’s pretty extensive for most teams. Take for instance Atlanta:
Meanwhile, here’s Columbus’ list:
So this will probably be a compelling game like most NFL preseason games are compelling from a certain “You really don’t know who’s gonna win because it’s bench players vs. bench players” standpoint. The difference is that this is actually gonna count in the standings.
Those of us who might want to see the buzzsaw that has been Thiago Almada so far this season? Nah.
Nice going, MLS, you absolute morons.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: Columbus, I guess. But if I wanted to watch a couple of MLS Next Pro teams, their season actually starts this weekend elsewhere on MLS Season Pass.
Bumfight of the Week
Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy (Fox, 3:30)
So much is unpredictable about this league. It is not Scotland, which is Celtic and Rangers and a bunch of different variations of the Washington Generals. It is not Holland, where Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord have won 47 out of the last 50 championships. You don’t have managers getting fired for the crime of being second in the table by one point with nine matches remaining, like at Bayern, who has won the last 10 Bundesliga titles.
MLS has had nine different champions in the last 10 seasons, and on any given weekend, you’ll get some wild results.
What is absolutely predictable, however, is which teams end up on the big national TV game of the week.
If I gave you the list of games that were being played and asked you to pick which one was gonna end up on Fox, 90% of you would pick this one. (The other 10% would pick another game, just to be clever.)
This is not a complaint, by the way. Every league in North America does it, so you get the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football every other week. Where it gets hilarious is when we get to watch Old Man LeBron try and carry the crappy LA Lakers on his back to the play-in round, live on national TV.
Or when MLS gives us bumfights like this.
In fairness to the league, the Galaxy have won five championships and Portland has won one in the last decade and appeared in two other finals. And it’ll be in front of a packed house at Providence Park!
The problem is that both teams are kind of junk. They have a grand total of five points between the two of them and really haven’t looked good at all. The Galaxy have had a small issue scoring without Chicharito in the lineup and they’ll be depleted by international callups.
And Portland? They can’t keep anyone from scoring. Well, except for Sporting KC. But everyone else? Three goals for LAFC. Two goals for St. Louis. Five goals for Atlanta. Maybe you shouldn’t rely on a senior citizen as your #6, but hey, when he’s a record-holder, I guess it’s hard to keep him out:
This game will be the resistible force against the movable object. And it’ll be in front of a packed house, a significant percentage of which loathes their team’s ownership and management. If that isn’t the stuff of bumfights, I don’t know what is. The only reason to watch this game is if you’re a sicko or if your TV was already on Fox and you can’t find where you put the remote.
Jefe the Hater’s rooting pick: That Giovanni Savarese spontaneously combusts after his team lets in a soft goal in a 3-3 draw.
Good Guys Game of the Week
LAFC vs. FC Dallas (MLS Season Pass, 9:30)
Unless you’re a pervert who wants to watch San Jose-Toronto, this is the last game of the weekend, and it might be the best one. To be honest, I flirted with the idea of also making this the SUPERCLÁSICO DEL SIGLO (de la semana), and just doing four games this week. But I believe in giving you, the fine, upstanding 3rd Degree reader, value for your money.
(You are subscribed to the Patreon, right? If you don’t, that’s cool, but give Satan our best when you end up in Hell.)
Beyond the fact that LAFC is the defending champion and has been cooking with gas so far this season and the fact that FCD has rebounded from their season-opening loss to Minnesota with two wins and a draw, there are also some interesting storylines in this game.
First, you’ve got two guys on each team playing against their former clubs! Kellyn Acosta and Ryan Hollingshead are on one side, and Marco Farfan and Sebastien Ibeagha are on the other!
Second, you’ve got celebrities! Will Ferrell vs. Becky G and some social media influencers!
Third, you’ve got the call-up absences! Dénis Bouanga, José Cifuentes, Diego Palacios will be missing for LAFC and, uh, Antonio Carrera and Nolan Norris (0 combined minutes with the first team) will be missing for FCD.
So, yeah, potentially good game, blah blah blah. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. It’s this nonsense:
Let’s zoom in:
So wait, you clowns, who will tell everyone and their brother about how you’re “LA’s team” and who’ll be the only people in the world after 20 years who’ll still mock the Galaxy for playing in Carson, couldn’t find a single place in Los Angeles to play your reserve games? And not only that, you’re playing them in Orange County, not LA County? At Titan Stadium, where the Galaxy won the 2001 Open Cup?
Look, I as a fan of a club whose first team plays in Frisco and whose reserve team plays in Arlington, both of which are famously not Dallas, don’t really have a lot of standing to chide other teams for playing game in the burbs.
On the other hand, I am self-aware and have never claimed that my club has some sort of mythical ownership over Dallas. (But watch the Hunts get twitchy if anyone ever thinks about putting another professional team, even USL Championship, within 100 miles of Frisco.)
Look, this isn’t bad as NYCFC playing some home games at Red Bull Arena, which they did three times last year, and might do again this year. But if you think that Orange County is a better place to raise the kids than LA, just say so. You wouldn’t be the first.