FC Dallas went into this Saturday's game with an excellent record against Chivas USA. In fact, I think that if one wanted a perfect team to jump start the season again, a nice home match against Chivas USA would be the ideal opponent. So, I went into this match with a sense of positivity that belied our recent run of form. I believed that the Hoops would capitalize on this situation, and that good cheer would rain down on the beer garden like so many 16 oz cups of Budweiser...wait, what's that you say? What did that sign back there read? Did that say something about a red card?
Yes, if you kept up with the news at the end of last week, or if you have seats in the beer garden and got an email similar to one that I received, you know that throwing beer or any other liquid is now banned in the beer garden. Also, if a person does disregard the new ruling from on high, a ban will be in order, similar to that which a player would receive for a red card. As expected, this news did not go over very well in the supporters' section, and many were upset with the new rule. This was due to the sudden and very strict nature of it, more than the actual rule itself. I have been on record in this very column stating my dislike of the tradition of beer throwing, but always assumed that I was in the minority. However, it seems that many people have not liked this tradition and have made their voices loud and clear to the Front Office of FC Dallas.
I was surprised and a little disappointed though by the lack of communication from FC Dallas to the Dallas Beer Guardians on this occasion. I feel that they could have handled it better and made many less people mad in the process. FC Dallas has every right to make any rule that they want to make. It is their stadium, their team, and they are responsible for making far more people happy than the 300-400 members of the supporters' groups. The FO are the boss, and have all the power, but, the easiest way to use that power, is by acting as if the fans have an equal say in the decision-making process. There is a reason why most of the longest running dictatorships in history have called themselves democracies. The dictator calls himself President and has phony elections every few years in order to keep the appearance that the people are in control. By including the DBG in the rule change conversation, the transition could have been much smoother without so many attempted boycotts and angry Facebook posts.
And so, this game did have another storyline-a b-plot, if you will-that I was almost more interested in than the actual match. Were the DBG going to protest the match, and if they were, what kind of protest were they going to attempt? As I walked down the stairs into the beer garden, there were numerous signs displaying the new rule, and an increased security presence. It seemed that FC Dallas were on high alert to enforce the Beer in Hand rule (yes, I made that up, but I think it sounds better than the "no beer throwing rule"). This made sense, because if FC Dallas was as serious as their email sounded about stomping out the flying beers, then they needed to be very strict during this game.
As I walked into the section, it seemed a little less full than normal, but not so much to seem like there was a concentrated effort to boycott the section, and after the first twenty minutes or so, the section was about as full as it normally is. Beer concessions seemed about as crowded as they normally are, based upon how long the line was during half-time and how many people had beers in their hands during the match.
As far as protest movements from the DBG, I didn't notice too many. They did have a couple signs, and they sang a few chants about the situation, but for the most part, they stuck to their normal, passionate support for the team. If anything, they may have seemed a little subdued this match, which would be understandable if they felt like the writer in this piece felt. Only a few fans were thrown out of the match, and I hope that everyone gets the message pretty quickly so that the garden and the front office can move on from this situation.
Initially, my attention was focused on the people to my right, but slowly, the action on the field overtook my curiosity. This match was very frustrating. As Drew noted in his recap, a silly mistake led to the goal, while we dominated play in the rest of the game. The Hoops controlled 62 percent of the possession, completed over 200 more passes than Chivas, and dominated in almost every statistic possible except the important one, goals. On paper, this looks like total domination, but from my vantage point in the game, everything seemed much more evenly matched. We really missed a central pivot point in this match, and it seemed like every pass we tried to make in the attacking third was slightly inaccurate. It would be a little behind the runner, or a little too far in front. The passes were never exact and it seemed like we lacked the cohesion necessary to score from the run of play.
The team never quit though, and almost completed the comeback in the 89th minute. Jair Benitez hit a corner kick that was nodded down by Stephen Keel into the path of Je-Vaughn Watson who knocked it into the back of the net, only for Keel to have been judged slightly offside.
If the world were fair, this match would have been the end of the winless streak. Instead, the world turns slowly on, not caring about our feelings nor stopping to let us digest this most recent tie. No matter how much we wring our hands, no matter how much we bark our displeasure into the night sky, no matter how much we feel aggrieved by the FO, luck and schedule makers, the season marches on. We visit the West Coast this week with games against LA and Salt Lake. Hopefully, our luck and our finishing improves.