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Dan Hunt joins FC Dallas players and coaches at the 2016 24-hour tailgate

Phil spent the weekend at the Dallas Beer Guardians’ 24-Hour Tailgate and was impressed by who came out to chat with the fans.

With the weather forecast for the Dallas Beer Guardians’ 24-Hour Tailgate looking pleasant for the first time in years, I decided to pull out the tent and head to Toyota Stadium. First, great job by Bailey Brown and the Beer Guardians and Lone Star Legion for a fun event to kick off the new season. There were kegs from Peticolas, a FIFA16 Tournament, cage soccer, cornhole, tifo painting, music, and food.

I was really impressed by who came out to chat with the fans. First, on Saturday night, Matt Hedges stopped by. He told us to tweet him if we needed more beer! Not only does he lead FC Dallas in clearances, but he leads the 24-Hour Tailgate in saves.

Next, FC Dallas President Dan Hunt arrived with pizza! I can’t imagine that many owners come out to fan tailgates, so I was impressed that he brought us food and stayed to chat. Dan was very patient as he listened to several complaints from the Beer Guardians. While partaking in the Peticolas with us, he described the huge bar he has been designing for the Hall of Fame. I asked him why the FC Dallas logo will be a predominant feature on a US Soccer Hall of Fame, and he explained that the National Soccer Hall of Fame is a separate entity from US Soccer. Dan shared that he is an avid reader of Big D Soccer. Thanks for coming out, Dan!

FC Dallas Head Coach Oscar Pareja arrived with Dan. Oscar was very concerned with the fan complaints, even though they were not directed toward him. Obviously he cares deeply about the FC Dallas Family, on and off the field. I asked Oscar which players have impressed him this preseason. Papi said that Walker Zimmerman came back hungry from Norway and would be starting next to Hedges! It was really interesting to hear directly from the coach about his thoughts on the players and lineup.

At the same time, Marketing Director Rob Rardin and Marketing Manager Melissa Miller brought Tex Hooper to the party! Tex is really terrible at jumbo Jenga and cage soccer, but he’s a party animal. Rob passed out the cool new DTID scarves with the Texas flag design, which was timely because I had left my scarves at home. It’s great to see the FC Dallas Marketing Department working closely with the Dallas Beer Guardians.

A huge surprise for the night was when Director of Stadium Operations and Security Bucky Deichert invited all of us out onto the Toyota Stadium field! He showed us the security office and said, "I hope I don’t see any of you in here this year." Bucky is a funny dude. We brought a few soccer balls and kicked around on the field. Some people took off their socks and shoes to feel the lush grass with their bare feet. I scored a few goals and celebrated by doing the airplane and the bow and arrow for all the imaginary fans. We tried our best not to mess up the field and we must’ve succeeded because it looked great on Sunday.

On Sunday morning, FC Dallas Technical Director Fernando Clavijo stopped by to be interviewed by The Kickaround along with Dan Hunt (definitely listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or here. It was really fun to listen to The Ticket’s Peter Welpton and Andy Swift on location. Fernando was gracious enough to stick around and chat with us for a while. He talked about playing in the NASL and indoor soccer. When the topic turned to the academy and USL teams, I asked why FC Dallas was not leading the way with a USL team. Fernando shared that 8 or 10 academy players are training with the senior team at every practice. A USL team is not as necessary for FC Dallas as it is for a team where there is a big gap between seniors and the academy. No wonder our homegrowns look like they belong when they see the field in an MLS match!

So, a big thank you to Matt, Dan, Oscar, Rob, Melissa, Tex, Bucky, and Fernando who made the 24-Hour Tailgate a special experience and a great start to an exciting season! See y’all next year!