March 8th was kick-off for the MLS season. FC Dallas played its season opener at home on a cold Saturday night.
FC Dallas, originally named Dallas Burn, started up in 1996. Dallas has been the home to the team since the start, but they have changed stadiums a few times in their history. From 1996-2002 they played in the Cotton Bowl, home to a historical College Football Bowl game and host of six games during the 1994 World Cup. They moved out to a large high school stadium for a year before going back to the Cotton Bowl. In 2005 they relocated to their own grounds in Toyota Stadium. At this time they changed their name to FC Dallas.
Dallas was one of the ten charter clubs that started the MLS and have competed in the league since its inception. One of the biggest rivals FC Dallas has is the in-state rivalry with the Houston Dynamo. Whoever wins the regular season game between them would also win the coveted El Capitan, an old cannon, similar to something they used in the Battle of the Alamo.
A friend and I set our plans to go to the game. We were to meet up at my place, which was closer to the stadium, then drive out before the game for some pre-game festivities.
The stadium is not in the heart of Dallas; it’s actually in Frisco, which is north of Dallas.
The weather was not the best for pre-game activities. There was constant slow rain with a cold temperature around 39 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this did not stop the loyal fans. There are small tailgates around the parking lots, playing music and cooking food and enjoying some alcoholic drinks, which I am sure doubled as a way to warm up their bodies.
Fans also meet up at the Londoner, a bar close to the stadium for pre-game and post-game drinks.
Once in the stadium it was more of a club-like atmosphere on the terrace. There were activities and booths to sign up for free FC Dallas items and there were DJs as well.
The stadium was not a sellout, even on opening day. With soccer still a small sport in the US as a whole, it is hard for most teams to fill the stands, but it’s even more difficult for FC Dallas. The city is home to NFL, NBA, MLB and other minor league teams that all compete for fans against FC Dallas.
That being said, there was a good crowd and atmosphere in the stadium. The fans that do come are committed to the FC Dallas team. The supporter section is small but loud, a fixture that helps the team gain home field advantage.
The opening day opponent was Montréal Impact, a Canadian team that joined the league in 2012 and has played pretty well since. The match had almost everything a soccer game could offer: yellow cards, great passing, a PK (which was a clear decision) and a goal from a free kick.
Montréal went ahead early in the game in 10th minute. FC Dallas tied it up in the 16th minute with a well-played passing goal from Castillo, a young Colombian that is making a name for himself on the FC Dallas roster. Dallas took the lead in the 24th after a clear foul in the box that lead to a PK, which was put away by Perez, the veteran striker from Panama.
Halftime was bitterly cold. People found warmth wherever they could, which happened to be in the bathroom. My buddy bought coffee just hold to keep his hand warm. I did a lap around the concourses of the stadium to warm up. That had little effect. I got back to my seat just in time for the second half whistle and just as cold as when I had left.
FC Dallas came out fast and got a lucky break. An Impact player handled ball just outside the eighteen-yard box, which set up a great free kick chance. Alberto Diaz stepped up and placed it close to the post. The goalie was frozen. The goal was scored right in front of the supporter’s section and they went crazy, banging drums, waving flags and turning on a smoke machine.
Montréal was able to pull back a goal in the 65th minute, but it was too late. FC Dallas was able to “park the bus” and hold onto the lead. Jose Mourinho would have had some choice words for the Dallas team, but a win on opening day builds momentum for the season.
Being one of the original ten, the FC Dallas games have a historical vibe for MLS fans. With the player moves during the offseason, this could turn out to be the most exciting season for the MLS to date. If you have a chance to attend a MLS game, especially an FC Dallas one, then I would suggest you do so. It might not be a full stadium, but you can trust that the fans there truly love and support their club.