My friend Kevin (a diehard soccer fan) has been insisting for years that I join him in Frisco for a day of football fun, but I’ve always found an excuse to not make the short trek to this North Texas soccer haven. But thanks to the World Cup and my beloved Denton and its new semi-pro team, I, too, have a pernicious case of the futbol fever. So, fresh out of excuses, I joined Kevin for a Saturday of futbol-themed fun in Frisco.
DAY TRIP TO THE NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME
Our day began at the Hall of Fame. That’s no typo: in case you didn’t know, Frisco is home to the country’s National Soccer Hall of Fame (NSHOF). This hallowed hall honors all of our nation’s greatest soccer players, including many World Cup heroes and pioneers on the men’s and women’s sides.
As Kevin and I walked the complex, we were awestruck by two things: 1. We have a rich soccer history and 2. We know so little about that said history! In addition to being a fun exploration of our most talented footballers, the Hall of Fame is also a crash course in U.S. soccer history. Want to impress your soccer-loving partner? Take a walk through the Hall. Better yet, take them there for a date! Chances are you’ll both come away having learned something new about this timeless sport and the Americans who have played it.
DINNER AT NERDVANA
We were spending the night at a soccer game, so Kevin humored me by combining dinner with one of my favorite activities: playing video games. If you’ve ever thought, “Sure, that dinner was great, but it would have been even better with video games,” then you’re in luck: Nerdvana combines fine dining with the classic games you love and several new ones to boot.
In between flatbreads and their delicious loaded fries, Kevin and I went head-to-head in a mini Madden tournament — some football before our futbol, as I joked to rounds of applause and raucous laughter many, many times. Outside, the skies began to darken into that ominous grey that foretells of an impending storm. But Kevin and I were unbothered; as the first raindrops fell, we enjoyed being lost in video game heaven.
FC DALLAS GAME AT TOYOTA STADIUM
After a dinner that contained my two faves (good food and good games) Kevin and I made the short trek across the street to Toyota Stadium, the home of FC Dallas. There was just one problem: As we parked, those droplets of rain gave way to a cavalcade of rolling thunder and brilliant flashes of bright lightning. The game would have to wait. Defeated, we trudged back to the car and began making other plans. But then we saw something interesting, something you read about or see in movies where Kevin Costner plays a battle-hardened coach, but something you rarely see in real life: Kids, dozens of them, were playing in the rain puddles surrounding Toyota Stadium’s red-splashed gates, and sports fans of all ages were bucking bedtime and sticking it out to see their beloved team.
As the kids hopped from puddle to puddle, their parents watched, striking up conversation with the football fans to their left and right. There was a mini-tailgate coalescing in the parking lot, as friends and fans came together to weather the storm and enjoy the camaraderie amidst the storm. One hour turned to two, and Kevin and I were enraptured by the infectious energy surrounding the soccer stadium. We made new friends, had more food (mostly me) and learned about soccer (again, mostly me). That energy carried over to the Frisco Square, too, where hubs of faithful football aficionados gathered to wait out the rain in any number of the Square’s restaurants or shops.
By the time the game began hours after its scheduled start time, the stadium was abuzz with anticipation and excitement, the precise antithesis of what one would expect from a crowd forced to wait for their entertainment. That crowd cheered, roared, chanted and danced as FC Dallas triumphed over the Seattle Sounders in a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Kevin and I exited the stadium, riding a wave of song, cheers and cheer created by the home team’s victory. As we made our way to the car, we saw that same group of kids dancing across the parking lot. The rain puddles had dried; their enthusiasm was still very much alive. They piled into a nearby car, and Kevin and I could hear them asking their parents when they could return for an FC Dallas game. Then, as we got into my friend’s car and took one last look at the sea of red exiting the stadium, I asked him the same thing. Although I’d just spent a day soaking in soccer history, games and comraderie in Frisco, I already wanted to do it all again.