This week, FC Dallas played Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in Kansas City. It was a rough game to watch, with a lot of fouls, not a lot of chances and even less successful passes. Sitting there watching it, reminded me of the fear that I feel when watching a team I support play meekly. I felt the crushing disappointment of my dreams coming to an end. The waterfall of expectations was forcing me down into the deep, dark pool of despair where I couldn't bring my head above the water line no matter how hard I tried. Each successive failed pass made me feel more and more hopeless, helpless and hapless. And yet, we made it to half time without giving up a goal! We were able to hold up against the waves of attack and the lack of possession (I'm pretty sure that SKC had at least 185% possession. Don't trust me though, check the opta stats. I certainly did.). The air returned to my lungs and my vision came trudging back to me from the tunnel where it had been before. We were still in this game.
Then and only then, did I begin to temper my expectations and gain some perspective on the situation that FC Dallas were currently in. They were facing the MLS Cup Champions away from home! This would be a daunting task for any team, especially one as raw as our beloved Dallas. Really, how good is our team from World Cup Way? What do we really know about them? Is Oscar Pareja really that good of a coach? Are Diaz or Escobar really that transcendent, or will they be busts like so many others (The latter is looking more and more like the stock market in late October 1929 with each passing day)? Can Fernando Clavijo build a team that can compete in this league?
We don't know the answers to any of these questions. We are all just floating our hopes and dreams out there and assuming things are going to be alright, because the world is supposed to make everything alright. We are supposed to, in the end, get what we want. It's all just a matter of timing. So surely, this is the year that we don't screw things up. Surely this is the year that we don't look brilliant until July, and then fade into the oblivion like Marty McFly's picture in Back to the Future; at once prominent and real, also ephemeral and obscure. Surely, we won't be that team that never wins anything, and that will go 100 years without success. Surely, I'm not projecting my own fears onto my team.
Growing up, my goal in life was to be in a history book, like the ones that you learned in school. Teachers would discuss my exploits with the gravitas normally associated with the likes of George Washington, Lewis and Clark, and Spider Man (I wasn't a very smart child). I would have succeeded at life in a way that would not only be memorable, but noteworthy. My life would be one that needed to be learned so as to inspire 4th graders coming in from PE to be excited about learning from dusty old books about dusty old men.
As I have grown older, I have realized that that will probably never happen, and that life is more nuanced than that. Life is full of decimal numbers not powers of ten. There will be a few small successes and many small failures, but it will not be defined by grand gestures and speeches.
I think many of us tie our emotions to our teams. If our team is top of the league, then, we are the best damn accountants in the business. If we are struggling through a divorce, or unemployed, then we may cry, or punch the wall when our team loses. If our team is on a bad losing streak, we may associate that with ourselves, and feel a little less in control of life. Can we measure up to expectations? Can we achieve our goals? Can we avoid our own type of winless season?
The connection isn't concrete and I'm not saying that all people struggle with this projection. Some people punch walls, scream in joy and weep in sadness without any underlying cause. Nor is it always a bad thing to show emotion in sports. That is one of the main reasons for its existence at all. Sport was created to help us emote, but it is interesting that most sports fans are men and most men have trouble expressing their emotions in anything other than sports.
With eight minutes left in the game on Saturday, Aurelien Collin of Sporting scored to go up 1-0. He headed it in. That's all I really remember about the goal (my notes were full of curse words, the word diving, and more curse words), but I do remember the feeling; the feeling of the wind going out of my sails, the feeling that this week may be a little tougher to bear than the last, and that this game was all but lost.
Then, Matty freakin' Hedges scored in the 90th minute! FC Dallas grabbed a point on the road against a team that they probably should have lost to. This team has some fight that might have been missing from past iterations! At once, my fears were less prominent than minutes earlier.
I woke up Sunday morning a little more refreshed, a little lighter and feeling a little more tenacious than Saturday. I think I have FC Dallas to thank for that.
Cheers from your man in the beer garden.