Rewind to June 2010: We moved to Frisco and became FC Dallas Season Ticket Members, took our kids to games, took a quick break when Jack was a baby because it was hot on that east side, moved our seats over to the west side and have gone to basically every home game since and added friends and tailgate traditions and team charity events and player autographs into our memory books.
Fast forward to May 28, 2023: We get an email from FC Dallas about the possibility of hosting Inter Miami in Leagues Cup. Here’s how the groups lay out, here’s who hosts based on MLS records, here’s the brackets and dates for possible matches. We opted in to buy the 5-strip in the off chance all that lined up to see Messi come here to Frisco. Membership has its privileges, and in this case it was cheap tickets and parking passes to the hottest ticket in town simply by opting in weeks ahead of the tournamant.
August 2, 2023: We faced Mazatlan while at the same time Inter Miami faced Orlando. Earlier that day, at work, we started prepping for social media posts IF we win and Miami wins (See the Elf-inspired video my Visit Frisco colleagues absolutely nailed). That night because I’m a good PTA Board member, I went to the Board meeting while Ryan and Jack went to the FCD game. After the meeting I hurried home to watch on Apple TV+ to keep up with both games, and sure enough, it lined up so that FCD and IM lined up on the brackets to play Aug 6. Let the games begin with what I think was the craziest ticket situation I’ve watched first hand. (Note I’ve never tried to buy Tayler Swift tickets.) Thankfully we already had a few seats secured at our regular price because of said ticket offer from FCD in late May, and we got to grab a few more at pretty reasonable prices, in my opinion.
So many texts about tickets. By morning when they went on sale to the public they were sold out in something like 11 minutes. Then the aftermarket crazy started happening with prices in the $1000+ for basic seats started popping up. It was madness like nothing else I’ve seen around here. People desperate for even just 1 ticket to send their kid to go see Messi.
Matchday – Sunday, August 6, 2023: A little to my surprise I got approved for a credential, so I went into the stadium about and hour and a half before kick and before the crowds. The lines were long and the sun was hot. I hear people waited outside for more than an hour to get in. Once the crowd starts filling the stadium I realize there was a moment everyone turned to take pictures of something above me. I turn to look. It’s David and Victoria Beckham. They’re gorgeous. They’re amazing. He’s changing the face of soccer in America, once again.
There were more people watching player warmups than I’ve ever seen, of course. Crowds cheered when Messi took warmup shots on goal. During the ceremonial “Light the Match” moment, local long-time soccer coach Schellas Hyndman got the honors. Lineups come out and sure enough Lionel Messi captains as a starter and the other big names on Beckham’s master plan roster start too in DeAndre Yedlin, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba. The stands are full and frozen with all eyes on the player tunnel for the bilingual countdown from 10.
Kickoff. Let’s go. Just a few minutes in, goal, FCD, but it gets disallowed for offside. Literally 2 minutes later Messi scores. I sat next to Fox 4’s Sam Gannon in the overflow press box, which was a nice treat to meet her and chat with her. I moved throughout the stadium during the game, got a view from seats near friends and eventually made my way to our regular seats to enjoy it with my peeps. I knew there was magic happening when I look over and see my 17 year old who hasn’t wanted to go to an FCD game in years cheering like crazy. We all were. It was impossible not to. FCD scored 3 goals in a row. But then Inter Miami answered just minutes after. The back and forth was incredible. Jack said even with the 4-2 lead it wasn’t enough – Messi could scored and beat us. And, he did. Messi is so good he makes goals happen. His way of slow paced positioning then pulling defensive players where he wants them to open space, or to find his own space at the goal is a skill in itself. Game is tied. Straight to pens. Usually we’d get another 30 minutes of soccer but in this tournament, straight to pens means no time to rest – it’s on like right away.
The drama of a penalty shootout is heartpounding. But when it’s Messi stepping up first to shoot against your own team it’s like an out of body experience. We love us some Paes but let’s be real – it’s Messi. Great shots and a few heartbreaking misses later, FCD falls in penalties. Somehow it was crushing because we love our hometown team, but it was also exhilarating because we were watching the greatest player on the planet.
You couldn’t have scripted this better from a drama and experience standpoint. The 4 goals each then penalties – what nonsense unique soccer game experience is that? And in front of 19,096 – a great experience indeed.
To wrap up the night, about 11pm I head into the post game press conference. Each head coach takes a seat at the mic. In the room next-door players may stop for interviews. Gina made it clear ‘you’re not getting Messi’, which was no surprise to me. So I sat and listened to the Spanish banter of Qs and As from Tata. I felt like the only one who didn’t get the jokes in Spanish so I sat and made sure not to raise my hand to be mistaken for getting called on for the next question. As I listened and caught a few words I could translate or recognize, like Argentina, fortunately, work, easy, very fast, I couldn’t help but think Tata had a relieved look on his face. The pressure he must feel being the coach of this last place team who suddenly gets this pop of world class talent, thanks to David Beckham. Pressures of the expectation of the greatest turn around is on him – but turns out he’s doing pretty good so far. We’ll see what happens when the MLS season resumes, but I think Miami is gonna be just fine.
I did jump in and ask Nico a question though. I asked about how all eyes were on Nkosi leading up to this and asked Coach if he held his own against Messi (and also if he was ok because he took a brutal hard hit to the head at the end of the game). Nico said that yes “Tafari had 1 v 1s against Messi and solved them very well”. The local press chat and joke about how they’ll be back to normal, with only 3 people in the presser by the next game. I think they issues 200 media credentials for this one match. Big time tv anchors and broadcasters were there – another phenomenon of the Messi effect.
We get home at midnight from a magical night of sports. I was proud of my team, our stadium, our fans and I was enamored by the greatness before us in Messi. He. is. unbelievable.
August 7-12 (today): There hasn’t been a day since the game that Messi hasn’t come up. From friends, and strangers in the elevator asking if we were there, to talk radio to what seemed like every single news segment covering Beckham eating BBQ or the crowds and so on – it has been everywhere. I think it took me 2 full days to wind down from the high of the game.
I was pulling media coverage reports at work and had to triple check the numbers because they were so big. I thought the ACMs and KitchenAid PGA Senior Championships in May had big results, but this was different. This showed “Frisco” (my little, awesome Frisco) being mentioned more than 400 times on match day alone. And this was global – coverage in languages from German to Italian and, of course, Spanish and many more.
I’m blessed to live here, to have seats at Toyota Stadium, to have a family who loves sports with me, to have the access to all the things that get me excited to interview and experience FC Dallas. Messi is the greatest, and now watching him play in my city is one of my greatest sports memories.