It was a scorching night in Frisco as Real Salt Lake came to visit in a battle of the top teams in the West. Getting to the stadium 30 minutes early still did not spare me from the massive crowd outside the will call booths on the north side. Never seen the will call and ticket sales booths so packed and crowded like they were tonight with lines that seemed to just keep building up. There are always youth nights but this time there was youth night + super turnout and it took at least 25 minutes to get through that line from what I was told. East stand was packed from what I could tell, the south end was also very crowded, the BG was jam packed from my vantage point, and even the West side had about 70% of their seats filled. Almost like all of Frisco came to see this one play out.
Bad Man Beckerman
So many words were yelled at the midfielder that I cannot type here. All I have to say is I really dislike Kyle Beckerman and most of the crowd seemed to share in that sentiment in various ways. From the very first foul called, until late in the 2nd half, the USMNT player was in the ear of the referee with incredible consistency. They looked like best friends out there with as many conversations they were having out on the field. That friendship drew the ire of the home crowd and Beckerman's constant whining seemed to have worked for most of the game with countless calls in favor of RSL and very little help for FCD during this one.
If there was anyone who was an even bigger enemy in the eyes of the home crowd, it was the man in the middle. Everyone around me confirmed that this referee was one of the worst they've ever seen, and being surrounded by STH's means these guys have seen a good number of refs pass through Frisco. All throughout the first half the frustration with Yellow Team was growing and growing with RSL seeming to be on the good side of the referee. This frustration finally boiled over right before halftime when Chris Schuler pushed Blas Perez with both his arms and received a yellow for his aggression. Perez also received a yellow for 'embellishment'. Really? Sure Blas isn't the most liked guy in the league, but you don't throw people out for getting shoved. Schuler knew exactly what he did and was even caught on camera multiple times blowing kisses at the then-ejected Perez. Then Nat Borchers threw himself down to mimic Blas' fall hoping to get on a highlight reel for his perceived comedy.
This sequence of events was judged to have been the last straw for the home crowd as chants of 'Ref you suck' belted out from what seemed like the entire stadium. I won't lie, I was one of the many yelling and angry voices ringing throughout Toyota Stadium. The ref was boo'd until halftime was called and the jeers grew even louder until he left the pitch. And deservedly when they returned, they were met by another wave but this one less intense. Look, a ref's job is the hardest in the world, I've ref'd and have been called some really mean things. But this had no excuse from the level he's supposed to be reffing at. Absolutely no excuse.
Victory Tastes Sweeter...
At halftime I was fuming and the crowd around me was a combination of baffled, shocked, and straight ticked off. Going against one of the best teams in MLS was difficult enough, but a man down at halftime made it nearly mission impossible. But magic happened at Toyota Stadium that night, it was pure magic. A rare venture forth led to a corner and the crowd went absolutely mental when Je-Vaughn Watson chested that ball in. Justice was served, the Yellow team was getting beat, and Rimando was not adding this game to his record list of shutouts. The ball never lies, and the ball favored Dallas despite the refs best efforts. A post hit from an RSL set piece then a few minutes later Fabian Castillo with a perfectly placed shot to beat Nick Rimando was just incredible. The euphoria in Frisco was immeasurable! I yelled out "REF YOUR TEAM IS LOSING" during on of RSL's corners, hope he heard it. Really could used a clean sheet but 3 points, with 10 men, against mighty RSL was just as sweet especially after all the adversity.
My most exciting player to watch that night was Zach Loyd. This dude made several last minute and precise slide tackles to get the ball away from the attacker. During one of those slides he looked to have been hurt, maybe a kick to the stomach from the opposition player, but continued on until the final whistle. Heroic effort from the right-back turned center back. Honestly, a heroic effort from all the men in red that night.A wonderful night.
There were fireworks too! I stayed in my seat to let the traffic and people flood out to an acceptable level, and suddenly the lights dimmed and music started playing. I thought to myself "do they do this everytime?" Then a firework show started for the 10% of people who stayed in the stadium. It wasn't 4th of July big, but it was a really nice show that was timed with the music playing on the loudspeakers. Even more icing on the huge cake that was that night.
That ref, did you chant with the crowd in letting him know he was not doing an adequate job? Did anyone stay to see the fireworks? How wonderful was the night for you? Let me know in the comments below!