When writing these articles, I’m never sure what to expect from myself. I’m sure if you keep up with this series, then you feel the same way. Sometimes I’m full of over-reactionary hot takes about the team, sometimes I try to break down the tactics of the game, and sometimes I just ramble about however I’m feeling about the team.
I try to be fair, reasonable and respectful. I try not to make assertions that I can’t back up like: “this team has locker room problems” or “they just aren’t mentally tough enough” because I don’t know what it’s like in the locker room and rumors like that are dangerous. I try not to lay into any players too hard because I realize they’re human beings too and many players on the roster are active in the community and fantastic human beings. No one needs their family to text them articles from some blogger roasting them.
But I’m tired and frustrated with this team.
If you’ve never read Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby I would recommend that you do. It’s one of the most accurate depictions of the emotional struggles of being a soccer fan. He describes the often self-destructive escape it represents, the gut wrenching pre-match anxiety, the transcendent feeling of being able to gloat about your team’s success to rival fans, and the inescapable negative mindset most supporters have. While the book is written about Hornby’s experience growing up as an Arsenal fan, these experiences are universal.
I love soccer for that. I love finding another fan who knows their stuff and clicking as we discuss the newest drama in the sport. I love telling stories about exotic games I’ve attended and being unable to capture the awe-inspiring atmosphere with my words.
While soccer can energize, FC Dallas make me tired. Because I don’t know. I don’t know what to expect from this team. I don’t know how they should play. I don’t know what reasonable expectations are. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. And it makes me feel helpless.
Why does no one come to games? Why don’t the Hunts spend more money? Why don’t we have a good striker? Why did Oscar do that? Why aren’t we playing the kids?
As a fan, these questions can only be answered with either boiling frustration or a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh; and I’m more of the type to do the second.
Because we aren’t a bad team. 57 points is not bad. Life as an FC Dallas fan is a special condition. It’s like being a depressed middle class kid. Sure, things could be materially worse. You could not have a roof over your head or food in your stomach, but dammit if something isn’t missing. It’s unfulfilling. Maybe if we sucked then we would be able to appreciate the highs instead of always wanting something more.
“The USOC isn’t enough, this team should be doing the double.”
“Forget making the playoffs we need a bye.”
“We should be the first American team to win the CCL.”
These are all thoughts that have floated around FC Dallas fandom in the past few seasons and they are both ungrateful for what FC Dallas has accomplished, but simultaneously fairly reasonable.
That’s why I always feel so conflicted writing these post-match articles. It ‘s hard to find the right perspective for this team. It’s hard to strike a fair balance between reason and ambition. It’s hard to come to terms with what this team is, and what this team isn’t.
But right now this team is still in the fight for the MLS Cup. While the showing against Colorado isn’t acceptable, I’ll be watching against Portland because I’m still looking for hard answers to questions that don’t have them.