Texas®

While Europe has long been considered the home of “Major League Football” and South America has often hosted teams that were nothing short of Futbol dynasties, The Great 48 has been picking up steam when up it comes to not only the quality of play we can display here, but in the enthusiasm of the supporters (aka “fans” for the uninitiated) that loyally follow the clubs they often will to victory.

In recent years, Texas has been the home to two of the MLS’s best teams. The Dynamo of Houstonhave been perennial contenders that took home the MLS Cup as the league’s champion in both 2006 and 2007 (after entering the league in 2005, which makes the back-to-back titles even more impressive). As for the Frisco-based FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn), they were a sad, “own-goal” away from being crowned champions this past season when they lost a heart-breaker to the Colorado Rapids.

Perhaps even more impressive than the on-field credentials that each team has built is the devotion and organization of the folks that support each team for each home-game (not to mention many road-games). Whether it’s the Texian Army in support of The Dynamo, or The Inferno in support of FC Dallas, each group makes clear their intentions to any who may wonder: To fully and vocally encourage their team at all times throughout the 90 minutes of each game.

By organizing pre-game tailgate parties that often end with a coordinated group “march to the match,” these fans are showing all others what it’s like to really be a supporter in far more than name only.

Chants? Check. Group Songs? Check. Coordinated color clothing? Check.

Such details are common-place in Europe and other soccer hotbeds, but here in the states, outside of a few college football-crazy spots, such obvious fanaticism has withered away from our professional sports landscape as many of the prices to attend events have made it so that the average fan is unable to attend regularly. With both Houston and Dallas, strides are made to include fans of all tax-brackets. Cheap to free parking, regular ticket-discounting programs and even drink specials make it easier for people to come equipped and ready to support their favorite squad.

For information on both the teams and the official supporter groups, see below:

Houston Dynamo:

FC Dallas:

Wow. That’s pretty much all I can say. What started as a Season Ticket holder’s appreciation night, replete with a meet & greet with players, free food for noshing and an all-star game between FC Dallas and a bevy of Costa Rican First Division Club players, turned into an all-points bulletin to DUCK & FREAKIN’ COVER on Wednesday night.

Within a matter of minutes hubby, father-in-law and yours truly – along with a couple, maybe few, hundred others – found ourselves rapidly and expertly herded into the underground tunnels of Pizza Hut Park.

Spirits remained high as we hunkered down well below ground during torrential rain and wind gusts of 80 to 100 m.p.h. That aside, I can only tell you what I experienced myself. I did see debris in the air, mostly branches, vinyl placards and one piece of plywood. In one case, we did witness tables and small platforms being blown across the ground. Once we finally emerged, we saw that the camera stand for FC Dallas had been blown into the stands, small and medium sized trees were blown down, a few flags were missing and it was pretty much lights out from Main Street to Preston.

Best part? Being treated to an amazing sunset.

Before I get to the pictures, I want to give HUGE props to not only the staff, police and fire, but an EXTRA HUGE HIGH FIVE to Pizza Hut Park’s sound guy. His/her playlist’s first songs once we were allowed back out:

Tay Zonday’s ‘Chocolate Rain’
The Beatles’ ‘Rain’
Garth Brooks’ ‘The Thunder Rolls’
Jimmy Cliff’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’

Overall, everyone from the fans to the staff, kept their sense of humor. The game was a nasty one, three red cards within the first 20 minutes. Check out the storm pics below: