We are finally here: The opening day of the MLS season.* El primera patada. And, as usual, the Fire aren't involved until tomorrow, leaving supporters of CF97 free to engage in everyone's second-favorite pastime: Hate-watching the whole rest of the league.
I mean, this whole tribalist enterprise is built upon a genial, cultivated disdain for everyone else, right? So let's get down. Everyone else has to tune up their hate game in the parking lot - we in Fire nation get a whole 24 hours to wind ourselves into a paroxysm of revulsion for the colors, tactics, haircuts, names, hobbies, coaches, history and nicknames of the 18 pathetic pretenders seeking to keep Chicago from properly striding the globe like a colossus.
Let's take a look at the schedule, the better to plan modes of poisonous invective. All times CST:
- Seattle vs. Kansas City, 2 p.m., NBC Sports Network: The Sporks, defending MLS champs, are still led by Peter Vermes - 'nuff said. Seattle invented supporting one's club, of course, so we owe it to them to ... dowhatnow? Hopefully this game ends with Benny Feilhaber in tears and Obafemi Martins on a plane to Turkey.
- DC vs. Columbus, 6 p.m., MLS Live: DC added experience everywhere, and just paid EJ DP money - lollerskates! Over/under on EJ's hamstring issues resurfacing now that he's getting paid: 35 minutes. Meanwhile, Columbus just extended a massive middle finger to its fans by blacking out even away games on MLS Live, meaning they can go ahead and suck, since no one near Cow-town will know.
- Vancouver vs. New York, 6:30 p.m., MLS Live: Vancouver is home to Stuart Parker, one of the world's really great people, and I'm having a hard time feeling the hate. But New York, after that 5-2 stonking to end the season last year, is the team I'm most likely to fashion vodun dolls against; ill fates, work your will upon the energy drink hucksters, as is your habit ...
- Houston vs. New England, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live: If you need help to hate these teams, take two shots of Malort and call Ben Burton. I am no longer amused by Houston's appropriation of the beloved orange of the Netherlands; either embrace the legacy of Cruyff, gentlemen, or dress yourselves in red, white and blue like every other damned team in MLS. If I'm not mistaken, Jay Heaps is still employed by New England. I don't want to hear that he's a good coach. He's from DUKE. He's a DUKE BASKETBALL PLAYER. He is hate-able at a cellular level.
- Dallas vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live: Ah, Dallas, I remember when we used to really hate the f**k out of you. Now you're sort of just another team - misty, water-colored memories of the way we were, huh? In Pareja and Klopas, here's two guys no one wishes any real ill toward; unfortunately, Klopas' team looks like it's transforming into a dumpster fire before his eyes, which will lead to a great deal of shamefully easy pointing and laughing.
- LA vs. Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m., MLS Live, MLS Free Streak of the Week: The more highly-promoted of the two nightcap games involves Salt Lake fans learning, to their dismay, how much of their success was down to Jason Kreis. Upside: The bidding for Garth Lagerway's services in 2015 should get amusingly heated. I'm not providing any help hating the Galaxy; anyone finding the task difficult might want to ponder the place of their Yankees ballcap and Man United kit within their wardrobe.
- Portland vs. Philadelphia, 9:30 p.m., MLS Live: Nothing would be more amusing than seeing the Timbers with 80 percent of the ball, and Philadelphia's gormly leg-breakers keeping them at bay - scoreless draws with frustrated home support are the ultimate dessert for a day of hate-watching. But even a Portland rout would be welcome - the Fire could use an overconfident foe next week, and anything that puts an Eastern Conference foe in a tailspin is good for both lulz and league position.
Join us in comments for your hate-watch notes! If only there were some way for everyone else to lose ...
*Noobs: This is the only way to correctly use "the MLS." You're welcome.