March 8 kicks off another season for FC Dallas fans, and while many of you will be tailgating, hanging out in the beer garden, and sliding into your seat for the opening game, there will be those other FCD fans, exiles if you will, watching from our phones, tablets, TVs, or computer screens. We are the FCD fans from afar.
True - nothing beats a great seat in Toyota Stadium, but it's not impossible to watch the Hoops do their thing when you live several states away.
My Story - I took a job back in late 2012 that moved me and my family away from Dallas to the distant reaches called the greater Washington DC area. We are very happy here, but the local soccer outfit (a little club called D.C. United) wasn't exactly a riveting option. I suspect they'll be better this year, but my first love still belongs to FCD. On Saturdays and Sundays, you'll find me in front of my tv, equipped with MLS Live on my AppleTV, catching bits of other games but really waiting for the main event, FC Dallas.
Here's a little wisdom on how to stay up with FCD life when you do find yourself away from the greater metroplex.
Get MLS Live.
There are ins and outs to this service, but MLS Live is affordable (~$50) and remains the best option for an away fan to consistently have access to all games from around the league. Apps for phones and tablets mean you can watch games even while out and about. (Please not while driving!) I use an AppleTV which integrates beautifully. The quality is outstanding, but you do have to live with a few quirks.
What are those quirks? First, keep in mind that if your game is nationally or locally televised, you will be blacked out on MLS Live too. (Note - check the comments below. Locally televised games may NOT be blacked out after all.) Archives of the games usually appear fairly quickly within 24 hours of the original air date. The good news is that living away from your team's media market means that you will have mostly uninterrupted access to lots of live games.
Second, you will need the right mix of equipment to make the most out of it. If you want MLS Live on your TV, AppleTV or Roku media players do a heck of a job, but if you don't already have one of those boxes, you'll have to buy one. Of course, your fallback option is any recent computer with the appropriate plug-ins installed.
Third, make sure you have a solid internet connection. The high quality stream is pretty close to HD, but if you have a slower internet connection, you may not be as satisfied. Usually, MLS Live offers a free trial weekend coming up, so you could test out the service before buying if you are hesitant.
Upgrade your TV package.
Right now, MLS games are confined to a few channels - ESPN, NBCSN, and Univision. Each team has their own local broadcast too. If you want to catch those nationally televised games, you may have to look at upgrading your tv package if you don't already have the channels you want. Please note, there are usually some options to watch these online, if the broadcasting company supports streaming. I've caught a live streamed Univision game or two before, as well as an occasional ESPN3 feed. Usually, if you subscribe to those channels, the feeds work for free as well.
(Note - I've read about workarounds to gain access to some of these online feeds even if you don't have a cable package. Do some Googling if you want to save a buck.)
You can find a schedule of nationally televised games for 2014 here.
Read and participate online.
You can still feel connected to FCD's community through the power of the glorious internet.
Of course, MLSSoccer.com is a regular for me throughout the season to catch highlights, read injury and transaction news, find the plays of the week, and moan about the bad referees. BigDSoccer.com is your best next choice for FCD-centric news, but don't count out soccerblog.DallasNews.com as another great source for info. The other broader sites I check out regularly included goal.com and soccerbyives.net.
Twitter is also a fantastic source of interaction and news. Check out these cool commentators - @SoccerByIves, @3rdDegreeNet, @MLS, @FCDallas, @DRobertsonFCD, @WVHooligan, @BigDSoccer, @USSoccer, and @AlexiLalas.
Following the FC Dallas Facebook feed is highly worth it, especially to catch Dan Hunt's live chats with fans each week.
Note: Feel free to add more twitter and website suggestions in the comments below.
Go to away games.
FCD is playing DCU in April. I can't wait to be there to see my team play in person at least once this year. Check FCD's schedule for possibilities. If you live in the East though, the bad news is that with current scheduling FCD only comes once every other year.
And you can always hope and pray that FCD comes through your area during Open Cup play.
Play fantasy games and FIFA.
Okay, when you miss your team that bad, your next option is to cram every waking hour with more fandom in the form of MLS Fantasy Games or computer games. Check out BDS group and join it! (As an aside, last year, I played and found it less than entertaining, but you might dig it.)
When that fails, fire up your favorite version of FIFA (or another football sim) and lead FCD to glory.
First step - fire JVW. (Okay, that's a joke but still...)
Consider moving back to Dallas.
This is your last desperate option if you simply can't go without FCD. It may come as a shock to many native Texans, but there are many great reasons to live elsewhere. But if you can't get enough FCD, then there's really only one option.
Ernest Tubb Waltz Across Texas (via GatorRock788)