Image: FC Dallas
Last week FC Dallas began it's journey for the 2021 MLS Cup. In addition to seeing newcomers Jose Martinez, Jader Obrian, and Freddy Vargas, fans got to see longtime fan favorite Michael Barrios take the field. Instead of wearing Dallas red, however, Barrios dressed in the Colorado Rapids' new green kit.
Barrios was traded during the offseason to the surprise of many supporters. He gave many supporters the chance to say goodbye with an appearance at a Dallas Sidekicks game as their honorary first kicker (https://www.dallassidekicks.com/news/former-fc-dallas-winger-michael-barrios-is-sidekic)
and an appearance at Soccer City in Frisco. The game against Colorado though gave supporters a chance to give Barrios a proper sendoff. He didn't play the full 90 for Colorado and when he subbed out the stadium erupted with cheers.
Why was Barrios so beloved by Dallas supporters? He wasn't a big signing when he was first announced, in fact he came to MLS as an unknown. It was through his time in Dallas that other teams began to notice him. At 5'4, he doesn't tower over anyone in the league, so he made up for his lack of stature with speed and a never say attitude that inspired kids and adults alike.
One kid in particular has taken that determination that he sees in his hero and has added it into his own playing style. Jordan is probably Mikey's biggest fan. He was one of the few who stayed late after the game to give Mikey one last goodbye before he got on the bus with the rest of his new Colorado teammates.
"Mikey's my favorite he makes me not want to give up when I play. He works so hard and his mohawk is cool!"
Mikey even made one game extra special with a gesture he made after the game.
As for one the field, Jordan fondly remembers a goal Barrios scored where he nutmegged both a defender and goalkeeper.
David, another fan of FC Dallas and Barrios, was even given advice from Mikey. He told his young fan that if he worked hard and had dedication, he could achieve anything he wanted. He also said that he was honored that David respected him so much.
Mikey scored several goals with Dallas, some of them showing an increditable amount of skill. His goal scoring wasn't what helped Dallas the most, however. He had a way of picking out his teammates and create oppertunites for him. He led Dallas in assists for several season (look up this stat). Another young fan learned how important it was to be a team player from watching him feed the ball to his teammates.
Dallas supporter Gael loved the way Mikey would sprint up and down the field. Speed was second trait that Barrios was most known for. MLS is a phyical league, hard for anyone too small, so he learned how to use other assets of his game to help Dallas.
Mikey wasn't just a favorite among kids though. Many adults loved watching him take the field.
Day one fan, Charlynn Helms, fondly remembers a rare goal scoring streak he had in 2019 and the celebrations he did for each goal, ranging from announcing his wife's pregency to a ras tas tas dance with Jesus Ferreira and Badji.
Many viewed Barrios as an ambassor for the club. Dallas supporter Adam Daley spoke about how he would frequently see Mikey at non FC Dallas soccer game at Toyota Stadium, including games played by 2nd division team North Texas Soccer Club. Daley also noted Mikey's giant smile and willingness to sign or take pictures with fans whenever they asked.
It'll be hard for Dallas to replace the ambassador role that Barrios had taken up. The dedication and fight that he brought to the team is already noticeably missing. Someone will need to step up and fill Mikey's role.
By Melanie G. Isbell