The World Cup has been amazing. Full of thrills, surprises, heartbreak and elation, it really has been a celebration of the world's game. As the matches have sambaed by, shaking their mesmerizing hips, I have focused on almost nothing else. Chores have been neglected, emails have remained unopened and unread, and proper hygiene has taken a backseat to the next match from Brazil. It has been an obsession of mine throughout this month, but it seems like it has also been an obsession of almost everyone else in DFW. Almost every conversation I have eventually revolves around recapping the previous match, or previewing the next one. Even my grandparents, who couldn't tell me how many players are on the field at one time, know that the next US match is a big deal and that it happens today. Seeing five thousand fans show up to Klyde Warren Park to watch the match against Portugal gave me chills, because I felt like the level of support finally matched the level of excitement.
Now, before you think that this article is going to be about how soccer has finally "Made it" in America, it isn't. No one moment, one game, or one tournament will either make or break soccer in America. It will gradually get bigger as more and more people get exposed to it.
What I find interesting is that normal people are beginning to see this tournament like they see the Olympics, a brief tournament where anything can happen that gives you an opportunity to show a lot of pride in your country. People get behind their national team, root them on, get loud, get proud and buy a team shirt. I don't expect the record breaking popularity of this tournament to directly translate to more people in the seats at FC Dallas games. It won't happen.
Anyone who watched the Netherlands-Mexico World Cup match before the rescheduled FC Dallas-Columbus match on Sunday can attest to those two matches being different experiences. Dallas grinded out a 0-0 tie in almost empty stadium (albeit due to the match being rescheduled) while Mexico lost controversially right at the end of the match to an extremely talented Dutch team.
I'm not knocking FC Dallas, or the MLS experience here. Dallas had a pretty good match against Columbus. Andres Escobar finally showed that he is a skilled player that can help lead this attack, while Tesho Akindele got unlucky with his finishing. Keeping a clean sheet against a talented Columbus team away from home is a great way for this Dallas team to gain some confidence for the second half of the season. June treated us well, and we are set up really positively for the remainder of the season.
The depressing days of May are behind us! Hopefully, the players will get healthy and get back from their suspensions to be the team that we know they can be. I'm really looking forward to seeing this team play in a packed stadium on July 4th.
Most people new to the game of soccer will leave this tournament excited about how the United States did, and looking forward to Russia in 2018. They will go back to watching their regular sports with a little more knowledge about international soccer than they had previously. They won't care about MLS or about soccer in general. All the while, some people will take this tournament and use it as a springboard, learning all about FC Dallas, the EPL and other European leagues as I did after the 2006 World Cup. Either way, this World Cup has been a wonderful party in the middle of the MLS season. While this party might be ending soon, FC Dallas is back, and I couldn't be more excited.