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Five Stages of grief for the FC Dallas Fan

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Offseason is prime season for the tender emotions of FC Dallas fans to surface. That’s okay. We’re in this together, right?

MLS: FC Dallas at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

When news breaks that Atlanta is offering potentially $14 million for a young, promising attacking midfielder, I get why we FC Dallas fans get a little testy. When other teams go out and make splashes with attack-minded youngsters or veterans from Paraguay or Sweden or wherever, my heart moans a bit too. It’s not that I’m convinced those players are going to work out and fulfill their potential, but it’s the yearning to be in the spotlight, to see my team taking aggressive chances and spending big bucks on players that other teams are vying for too. A team that is relevant in the transfer market - is that too much to ask?

Yes, FC Dallas isn’t completely silent here. Picking up a competent veteran GK in Jimmy Maurer is a start. Spending a chunk of change for a potential national team left back from Bulgaria is okay too. But seriously, we want a splash, right? We want a headline that captures people’s attention. We want Chicharito, right?

Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler came up with a framework to understand the process we undertake when we lose someone or something near to us. Grief takes many forms and certainly can capture the uncomfortable journey into reality as a sports fan. (Of course, take all of this a little tongue in cheek - if you find your sports fandom driving you into the depths of grief, it might be time for a new hobby.)

Denial

It happens at the start of every offseason. This one is going to be different. This time, Dan Hunt will have made enough money selling oil and NFL cards, that FC Dallas is going to splash big for proven talent and exciting dynamic young stars. This year is poised to be different.

Then, the loanee signings begin...

Then, we sign a young DP who struggles to get on the field and score goals.

Then, our team is quiet while the rumors pile up for others in the league. Maybe this one isn’t going to be different?

Anger

Now, our grief moves into stages of outright venom against FC Dallas. Maybe we post angrily about not renewing our season tickets or complaining about the lack of state fair corndogs at the stadium. We blow up on soccer discussion forums or in the comment section of your favorite sports blog. We tweet at Dan or Fernando or even some random fellow who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maybe a few of you are angry enough to burn your FC Dallas apparel or consider following Houston Dynamo instead.

Okay, that last one was a bit of a joke - let’s not go that far.

Bargaining

Then, we begin to take it onto ourselves to be a part of the solution, right? Maybe FC Dallas isn’t aware that there is a Premier League with players of some quality that can be purchased. Maybe what FC Dallas fans need to do is suggest potential signings to our front office to help them out. Maybe FCD fans need to buy more t-shirts and scarves to help finance that big splash signing. Maybe if we call into local radio shows, they will talk about FC Dallas and then Dan Hunt will open up the family vault to bring in a relevant foreign star?

We pray to whatever we understand the divine to be for a ray of sunshine.

We even tweet to Fernando about signing a relatively well known Dallas-native who would improve our squad... please, I mean, come on, help us out here:

Depression

Of course, despite FC Dallas increasing its fan outreach in recent years, our tweets, emails, and blistering comments go unanswered. In that quiet period of December to January, we sink beneath our Dallas Til We Die scarves, blocking out the sun and meager rays of hope. We imagine this team going into the season with two center backs on the roster and no one backing up Mauro Diaz. Maybe this is just how it is. Maybe FC Dallas is actually just incapable of being more than a middle tier sports franchise in one of the largest markets in the country.

If the next season is cancelled, will we even care? Maybe those Houston fans have it better. Maybe Seattle did invent soccer after all.

Acceptance

Finally, the thawing spring sun beams onto us with a complete season schedule, and we emerge from our winter of discontent with hope to see a round ball kicked around by 11 players on a well-maintained pitch on the northern fringes of the Dallas metroplex. We remember that, though FC Dallas did not spend big money on an international star, we can still look forward to watching Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo, Mauro Diaz, Matt Hedges, Jesse Gonzalez, and Michael Barrios do their thing. Maybe Paxton Pomykal will break out this year. Maybe that new LB will be awesome. Maybe one of those loanees is going to turn out to be Lionel Messi’s spiritual successor.

We accept that this is who FC Dallas is. And we will love them for it, begrudgingly. We’ll show up for the Facebook Live chats to hear the team president announce turkey legs as a new addition to the stadium fare. We’ll get excited when a player scores a hat trick in a game then disappears. We’ll wonder what happened to a certain player’s first touch. And we’ll be thankful that even if FC Dallas doesn’t spend like Atlanta, Seattle, Toronto, or whoever, at least we aren’t Colorado. Or Houston.

Thank God we aren’t Houston.

Do you need to vent? What stage are you mired in right now? Need some encouragement? Post below.