If there’s one FC Dallas guarantee each MLS season, it is that Toyota Stadium will host an FC Dallas match on the 4th of July, followed by a massive fireworks display.
As we reach our last week without any MLS matchups, we’ll take one last look backward and check out the history of FC Dallas and Dallas Burn 4th of July games.
Note: This article will only reference games that actually happened on the 4th of July. In some seasons, games were played on July 3rd or the 5th or on the weekends before or after the 4th, but we will only be looking at games that actually took place on the 4th.
The Burn Era: 1996-2002
*Unfortunately, there aren’t any highlights readily available online for any of these games.*
Right from the start of MLS and the Burn, 4th of July games in Dallas were established, with the Burn playing DC United in the inaugural MLS season on the 4th. Goals from Jason Kreis and Raul Diaz Arce had the score knotted at 1-1 at the end of regulation, at which point the Burn managed to pull off the shootout win to take the 3 points. Unfortunately, this wound up being the high point for 4th of July games in the Dallas Burn era as the club lost their next three 4th of July match-ups in 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons. In 1997, DC United took their revenge and came away 2-1 winners in Dallas, while Brimstone Cup rivals Chicago entered the league in 1998 and defeated Dallas in both their debut season and in the 1999 season.
Apparently, after the 1999 season, the team had seen enough of the 4th of July games after suffering three defeats in three seasons and failing to win any 4th of July games in regular time, and the Burn did not play a 4th of July game in the 2000 season. The Mike Jeffries era began in 2001 and with that, the club saw the return of the 4th of July game in the 2001 season, taking on the New England Revolution. This was also the first season since MLS started that a draw was a possible result (albeit after a Golden Goal extra time period) and that was the result against the Revolution, a 1-1 draw. The 2002 season saw another new opponent, the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), and the first-ever regular time win by the Burn on the 4th of July, a 2-1 win with goals from Bobby Rhine and Jason Kreis sealing the deal.
Astute observers may notice that the Burn era is listed above as only going to 2002 when the Burn actually lived on through the 2004 season. For some reason, there were no 4th of July games in either the 2003 or 2004 seasons. It seems that it simply had not been established as a proper tradition for the club at that point in time. The 4th of July game would not make its return until the FC Dallas era and the move to Frisco.
The Early FC Dallas Years: 2006-2009
The Dallas Burn rebranded to become FC Dallas ahead of the 2005 season, but it wasn’t until the 2006 season, the first full season at what was then Pizza Hut Park, that the 4th of July game made its return. Unfortunately, it was an inauspicious return as FCD lost to a familiar 4th of July foe, DC United, 1-0. The club bounced back in the 2007 season, defeating Chivas USA 2-0 with goals from Ramon Nunez and Dominic Oduro and marking the first 4th of July win since the club’s move to Frisco.
The 2008 season saw a continuation of the 4th of July games with a matchup against the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) and we finally reach a match that has highlights online! After future FCD player (and father of current FCD homegrown Dante Sealy) Scott Sealy scored for Kansas City in the first half, Dallas forward Abe Thompson delivered a stoppage-time goal to pull back a 1-1 draw. The 2009 season saw a return to winning ways as FCD took on the New York Red Bulls with two rapid-fire goals from Jeff Cunningham early in the first half being enough to secure a 2-1 victory.
Although the 2010 and 2011 seasons would see a return to the playoffs for the club after a two-year absence as well as a first MLS Cup appearance, 4th of July games were not played in either season. In 2010, FCD hosted a July 3rd game for some reason (a 1-0 win against Kansas City) and in 2011, they hosted a July 2nd game, a 2-0 win at home against Columbus. Even without playing on the 4th, winning games around the 4th of July period had started to become established and the results were a far cry from the struggles in the early MLS years.
The Tradition is Established: 2012-2019
After a couple seasons of playing around the 4th of July, the actual 4th of July game returned in the 2012 season. Since 2012, the club has played a 4th of July home match in every season, with a major marketing push from the club around the fireworks show following the game, giving a sense of the club wanting this match to feel like an event. If 2012 was the proper start of this tradition, it was an inauspicious start as FCD was only able to scrape a 1-1 draw with (at that time) lowly Toronto FC. If 2012 was a rocky start, 2013 didn’t do much to alleviate any potential concerns about making this an annual showpiece match for the club, as FCD and Chivas USA played out a boring 0-0 draw in the Frisco heat.
The 2014 season saw the start of the Oscar Pareja era and a return to winning ways, both overall and in the context of the 4th of July game. In 2014, FCD faced off against the Philadelphia Union and came away with a narrow 2-1 victory and kicked off a run of 6 straight 4th of July victories. The 2015 season saw one of the best seasons in club history and also, to that point, the widest margin of victory in a 4th of July match as FCD took down the New England Revolution by a score of 3-0 with goals from Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo and Michael Barrios (that trio pretty much sums up the 2015 season, huh?).
2016 was an even better season and the club recorded an even higher margin of victory, with Walker Zimmerman, Michael Barrios, Matt Hedges, and Fabian Castillo scoring goals in a 4-0 romp, which remains as the highest margin of victory in any 4th of July match for the club.
The 2017 season was a regression in overall results and a slight regression in the 4th of July result as Dallas reunited with old 4th of July foe DC United, coming away with a 4-2 victory, one of the last positive results of the 2017 season which saw Dallas fall apart in dramatic fashion in the second half of the season.
Thankfully, this did not carry through in the 2018 season, as Oscar Pareja was able to complete a sweep of his 4th of July games as head coach.
Winning his fifth game out of five in dramatic fashion as FCD came from behind to defeat eventual MLS Cup champions Atlanta United 3-2 with Tesho Akindele scoring a brace (his only two goals in 2018) in the final 10 minutes.
Luchi Gonzalez was able to pick up where his predecessor left off in 4th of July matches as FCD yet again hosted DC United, this time with Wayne Rooney, in the 2019 season. It turned out to be a dramatic affair, with Santiago Mosquera scoring early, Wayne Rooney receiving a red card that was changed to a yellow by VAR, and Luciano Acosta receiving a non-overturned red card for stomping on Paxton Pomykal.
Ultimately, FCD came home with a 2-0 victory and Luchi Gonzalez successfully started a new era of 4th of July games in Frisco.
Sadly, there will be no 4th of July game in 2020. Dallas was scheduled to host the San Jose Earthquakes prior to the COVID-19 derailment of the season. With the MLS is Back Tournament due to start in under a week, Dallas had planned a pre-tournament friendly against NYCFC to be played on the 4th, perhaps in hopes of keeping the tradition going in 2020 in some fashion, but sadly, an outbreak of COVID-19 within the FC Dallas squad has forced that friendly to be canceled.
For the first time since the 2011 season, FC Dallas will not play a match on the 4th of July.
That being said, it is almost a guarantee that the tradition will be back in the 2021 season and FCD fans will be back out to watch the team and watch a pretty great firework show.
What is your favorite memory from an FC Dallas 4th of July match?
Is the fireworks show really the best in North Texas?
Featured Image: FC Dallas