Updated: Apr 18
Tomorrow,cars will gather in once empty parking lots. Tomorrow crowds of people will make the long trek to Toyota Stadium. Tomorrow the smell of hot dogs, beer, and sunscreen will waft through the stadium once more. Tomorrow fans will cheer and chant. Tomorrow the stadium lights will flicker on and the players will walk through the tunnel and onto the pitch once more.
FC Dallas will begin it's 26th season. Unfortunately due to Covid, the stadium is at limited capacity, however, fans are ready to watch their beloved team once more, whether it's at the stadium or on a screen. Many will finally get their first look at newcomers, Jose Martinez, Jader Obrian, and Freddy Vargas. All three already look like they're ready to contribute this season. Martinez and Vargas are already becoming fan favorites.
Martinez is always smiling for the camera and it's been said that he has the qualities of a leader, something that a team full young players will need more of. Currently Dallas has three players who provide leadership, Hedges, Hollingshead, and Maurer, the addition of Martinez will help ease some of that pressure.
Long time season ticket holder, Charlynn Helms has said that she's most excited to see Martinez play, a sentiment that shared by fellow Dallas supporter Theo Melillo, who expects big things from the new center-back.
"The signing I’m most excited for it Jose Martinez. He is the exact kind of physical defender the team needs to compete for an MLS Cup alongside staples Matt Hedges & Ryan Hollingshead" - Theo Melillo
Luchi and coaching staff also spent the offseason strengthening a weak offense. The departure of long time player, Michael Barrios left many fans wondering who will provide that spark that Mikey had game in and game out. The answer came pretty quickly in friendlies though.
Video: FC Dallas via Twitter
Freddy Vargas has provided a dynamic spark that the club has not seen in recent years. In addition to becoming Dallas' best dead ball taker, he's also able to pick out his teammates in difficult spots and create opportunities that some may not even attempt.
Video: FC Dallas via Twitter
The return of MLS will help bring some normalcy after a year that was difficult for many. The later start date has made the offseason longer than it usually is. Last year Dallas had their earliest start with their first game being on Leap Day, this season has the team with one of it's latest starts to the season.
Nickie Hutto, a dedicated Dallas supporter, has felt the affects of the long season. She's ready to be back at Toyota Stadium cheering for the "boys in red" as they known as by supporters, and hoping to see them finally win that elusive MLS Cup. Charlynn Helms is also excited to be at Toyota Stadium, surrounded by fellow supporters of the club.
Even miles away, the bond between supporters is strong. Theo Melillo was born and raised in Houston and still lives there today, however he has felt more connected to the Dallas area.
"Ultimately I support FCD because it's the club and fans that accepted me and embraced me as a supporter, even though I'm not from or in Dallas" -Theo Melillo
Despite his distance from the club, Melillo is a member of one of Dallas' supporter groups, the Dallas Beer Guardians.
Image: Buzz Carrick/3rd Degree
In it's 26 years of existence, FC Dallas only has three trophies, the 1997 US Open Cup, the 2016 Open Cup, and the 2016 Supporter's Shield. They've only made one appearance in the MLS Final, where they lost due to an unfortunate own goal. Due to their "Play the Kids" motto and their status as a selling club, it looks unlikely they'll win a trophy any time soon. Why then, do they have supporters who continue to travel to Toyota Stadium or watch them week in and week out from miles away? The most common answer is the support they feel from fellow fans.
Charlynn Helms has been there since the beginning. A season ticket member since 1996, she's seen the club through their success and their failures. The shared joys and sorrows with other fans deepened her love for the game and the club.
"I love my club through thick and thin, good or bad. They are my team no matter what." - Charlynn Helms
Nickie Hutto supports the club due to her love for soccer. Thanks to her dedication to the game, she's been able travel across the country, visiting nine MLS stadiums and even travel to Toronto.
Image: @FCDallas, twitter
Another aspect of Dallas is their use of homegrown players. Paxton Pomykal, for example, was born and raised in North Texas. The number 19 that he wears was once the number of Dallas legends Bobby Rhine and Zach Loyd. It was retired in September of 2011, after the sudden passing of Rhine and remained unused until 2016 when he asked for the permission of Bobby's family to wear the number to honor him.
Having players who grew up watching the club, dreaming of one day playing in Toyota Stadium and knowing the history of the club makes the club feel special and gives it a family atmosphere that is rare in sports.
Due to a lingering injury, Paxton most likely won't step onto the field tomorrow, but he'll be ready to support his club and cheer on his fellow homegrown teammates such as Edwin Cerrillo and Tanner Tessman.
Image: Melanie Isbell
Tomorrow the gates will open. Tomorrow fans will watch, whether at home or the stadium. Tomorrow a future homegrown may be in the stands, supporting his club and dreaming of the day he's out on the field, helping the team grab 3 points at home. Tomorrow FC Dallas will begin it's quest for an MLS Cup once more. Tomorrow another season will begin!
By Melanie G. Isbell