The first time I ever went to a professional soccer (hereafter known as football) game was in Berlin. Hertha BSC, the city’s premier team, was almost going to be knocked down to the second tier of the league. Imagine if we had that mobility in American sports?
Houston Astros – see ya. Buffalo Bison? You’re up.
Dallas Cowboys? Go play some junior college teams. Toronto Argonauts? Shorten that field, because you’re in the big leagues!
Sitting on the top tier, drinking my beer and eating my schnitzel like a good German, I realized that we were sitting right above the Ostkurve, home of the rowdy Berlin fan section. The songs, the cheers, the conspicuously straight-armed salutes – it was amazing. I saw one giant blue flag go up in flames, and no one seemed to blink. They were drunk, rowdy, and sang the entire game. Berlin won the game and lived to play in the upper league for another year.
Fast forward to now.
Dallas has a professional football team. Wait, let’s change that – Frisco, TX has a football team that’s labeled as being from Dallas. Arlington, TX also has a football team that’s labeled as being from Dallas, but now I’m just getting (more) pedantic.
FC Dallas doesn’t have hundreds of supporters in the in the OstKurve singing all game. They’ve got about 50-75 drunken Texans singing the same three cheers all game, and a crowd who always seems just on the verge of either clapping appropriately or getting up get another beer. It never quite sits on that edge of chaos that Berlin does.
But you know what? It’s a hell of a time. And it’s getting better – this time, the crowd seemed more engaged, and it was a sell out! A sell out of football (the Euro kind) in north Texas. Sure, the stadium isn’t 100,000 – more like 20,000. But that’s gotta be worth something.
It was a tie (1-1) against the Chicago Fire, and the crowd seemed surprisingly OK with that. I sent a text to a friend of mine with the result, and I got back
Fuck that sport I swear to god
That seems to be the general consensus of anyone who’s standing on the outside, looking in at soccer.
Is it ever going to be Berlin, sitting in the Olympic Stadium, flags on fire and vague, Nazi-like salutes? Probably not. But for 20 bucks, I can feel like I’m part of that.
And hey, it makes me cool because I care about football in a non-World Cup year.