A Culture of Falling Short
As an objective radio show host and writer I shouldn’t admit this but will: I felt physically ill late Sunday Afternoon after FC Dallas gave up a stoppage time goal to allow arch rival and perennial tormentor Houston to escape Robertson Stadium with a draw. I didn’t want to talk about the game and I didn’t want to think about the game. In the history of MLS no team has made the playoffs as much as FC Dallas, but yet the Hoops are one of only three MLS’ teams in continues existence since 1998 to never make the MLS Cup final.
Names such as Leonel Alvarez, Jason Kreis, Ariel Graziani, Carlos Ruiz, Hugo Sanchez and Oscar Pareja have come and gone but one thing has remained consistent since 1996: The Dallas franchise in MLS has been good but not good enough. For years the Burn as they were then known played probably the most exciting soccer in the league. Under Dave Dir Dallas was always more watchable than much of a stale, slow summer league with poor quality squad players known as MLS. But Dallas could never get that extra something, that bump over the top despite having a succession of good foreign players and a better scouting network than anyone in MLS other than the league’s signature club itself, DC United. I always thought of the Burn as the club that would be the third giant club in the league between the two coastal giants, DC United, and the LA Galaxy, but instead Chicago, Kansas City and now Houston emerged as the best team in “Middle America.”
The Burn would try and fail every year in the playoffs. They’d be upset at home, or lose to lower seeded teams. They would suffer untimely injuries or simply collapse. Whatever it was, my thinking was dumping the bad karma from the Cotton Bowl, re-branding the team and moving to a true home stadium: Pizza Hut Park would change things.
Simply put, nothing has changed. Yet again the upstart team from Houston, a place which MLS as a league clearly saw as a second tier market in the state of Texas has since their relocation from San Jose inflicted a heavy psychological wound on FC Dallas. We saw it last year, where Hoops players consistently lost their composure against the Dynamo and eventually gave away a golden opportunity to exercise all their demons in the second leg of the playoffs last season. We saw it in Superliga where FC Dallas’ players were quick to the ground and quick to whine to the ref when something went wrong: the team wanted a trophy in any form even if it was a brand new event.
With FC Dallas yet again losing it late and worse yet to Houston, I ponder a serious question which I hesitate to even ask: Are the Hoops cursed? Can FC Dallas, a franchise that in my humble opinion deserves a title and deserves the success as a trailblazer in this league ever get over the hump?
I encourage any and all Dallas fans to help us answer this. I have been bothered for several years now about the failures of your team and it is probably the the thing quite honestly (and I do try and remain objective but soccer is a passionate game and I will admit I have developed a soft spot for FC Dallas over many year though I do not consider myself a fan of any particular MLS club since my beloved Fusion were ripped out from under me) that has hurt me the most in MLS since the aforementioned Fusion disappeared.