I arrive at DFW International Airport for my first player arrival, not only as a blogger but also as a fan. I’d like to capture the atmosphere and share that with you, the reader.
I walk down the long, left-turning, corridor to where international flights arrive. I come across with members of Dallas Beer Guardian and El Matador. We all exchange pleasantries and it is quickly agreed, unspokenly, that we all are excited and are hopeful for Zdenek Ondrasek not only to engage with us but to also have a good season. More and more fans show up and everyone is taking photos, talking, laughing, and sharing on social media.
A representative from FC Dallas approaches us and thanks us for showing up and that they are just as excited as we are. One fan told me that she hopes they just don’t lose/tank. She would like, “…the team to go out and try to do their best“. Another informs me that he “…would like the team to play with heart and passion” and that what he feels like that Ondrasek will bring to the team. One tells me that “its MLS Cup or bust“, where we share a small laugh, but he did bring up a good point: “why do any of this if we are not going to try to go for the ultimate prize“.
After talking with a few fans, there is a general feeling of hopefulness for this upcoming season. One summed it up best with something to the effect of “we have all the pieces this year and we are arguably a better team. With Ondrasek coming in, who looks like the best forward that we have as of late, and with Araguiz coming in to pull the strings with Barrios and Santi on the wings, the attack looks good. The midfield of Gruezo and Acosta looks so, so good and I can’t wait to see how that will work out. Our defense is stacked and with the addition of Bressan, there should be some serious competition within the team for the starting spot“.
It is around 7:00 pm when Ondrasek lands and all the fans become more anxious to get a first look at the newest member of FC Dallas. There are reminders that he has to get through Customs, and with the government shutdown, it could be a lengthy amount of time before he makes it to the fans.
Some fans took the opportunity to introduce themselves or renew connections with the club as Marco Ferruzzi took the time to speak with fans. He was very informative in answering fan questions about the team, academy, club structure, and his thoughts. He was friendly and very patient as well and did not seem bothered. Marco seemed to enjoy speaking with the fans and took some of the comments and concerns to heart and genuinely cared about what was being told to him. This was the second most important event that took place that night.
While we waited, many people walked through the waiting area and fans started to clap or welcome back supposed “moms” & “dads.” Some passengers asked who FC Dallas was while some knew what FC Dallas is.
Finally, the moment we had all waited for came as the door opened and one passenger walked through. Before the doors closed we saw the smiling Czech player and cameras started to take pictures, fans started clapping and cheering, and video recorders started rolling. My first impressions of Ondrasek are nothing but positive ones. He was welcomed by Marco Ferruzzi with open arms, like a son returning from a long trip.
The Cobra then turned to the fans and thanked each one for taking the time to welcome him, being careful to reach out to all the fans. Zdenek had a long flight and most definitely was tired and could’ve had just sped through everyone. He took the time to sign every and all autographs, took photos with every fan that wanted one, was handed five scarves and took them graciously, and shook hands with everyone. He kept a smile on his face and it was not a smile just for show but one that was genuine. Ondrasek looked genuinely happy to be at this club and to see all the fans. He honestly looked as excited as the fans were to be here, at this club, with FC Dallas.
After doing a short interview, he once again thanked everyone and was taken home by the club. The wait was longer than what many had expected but it was well worth it in the end. It was oddly fun waiting for the player and then finally getting to see him and meet him. It was great getting to meet other fans and seeing everyone interact with each other, conversing, laughing, and not just talking about soccer and FC Dallas, but as friends would talk. Old and current friends met up while new friends were made.
There is something oddly special about welcoming a new player: not only do you get to see the new player but I would argue that it is getting to engage with other fans at the scene.
If there is one thing to take away from this night it was hope. There was hope in the fans, hope in the club, and hope for Ondrasek. He may not be that consistent 10+, 15+, or even 20+ goalscorer, but this guy wants to be here and I hope that he enjoys his time here. I hope that he has a successful season, and I hope for nothing but the best from him and this team.
Featured Image: Henry Mendez