The National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco
FULL DISCLOSURE: This column was planned with the idea that FC Dallas would win its first round MLS playoff game and advance to the second round.
Of course, sports happens, especially in this town, where “For the Losers” will soon be a red wine label, because it never goes bad, because it’s always bad.
On Wednesday night, FC Dallas’ season ended prematurely when it lost at home to the Portland Timbers, 2-1, in a knockout match.
FC Dallas should never have been in this match, but three consecutive losses to end the regular season pushed it out of a first round bye. So another season where FC Dallas should have been a legit contender to reach the MLS Cup Finals ends without doing so.
No team in MLS deserves an MLS Cup more than FC Dallas.
There is no MLS without the Hunt family, whose late father, Lamar, is one of the single biggest reasons why the sport of soccer has an expanding presence in the United States.
No family has burned through more cash and resources than the Hunts to see the sport of soccer gain some footing in the U.S.
It would be nice to see his signature MLS franchise finally win the MLS cup trophy it covets.
“It’s funny, you said something that resonates with me, that ‘we deserve it given what we’ve done,’” FC Dallas co-owner Dan Hunt said in a phone interview. “I would say in return, and this is the realization of my life and every moment: We have to earn it. We were so incredibly unlucky to not win the final in 2010 in Toronto. That was such a tough one to swallow. That one really motivates me.
“And in 2016 when (top defender Mauro) Diaz tore his ACL. We were really good and set up but it didn’t happen. We just have to earn it.”
(Editor’s note: When the MLS was founded in 1993, it allowed multiple franchises to be owned by one entity; at one point, the Hunt family also owned the Columbus and Kansas City MLS franchises, both of which have won MLS Cups. The Hunts now own just FC Dallas, which is where the Hunts work.)
Lamar Hunt created the Dallas Texans AFL franchise, which later became the Kansas City Chiefs. He died in 2006.
While he is famously known for creating the moniker for the NFL-AFL Championship game, “The Super Bowl,” his legacy in the sport of soccer in the U.S. has no equal.
That legacy continues through his sons, via the MLS and now the National Soccer Hall of Fame, which will open to the public on Nov. 2 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.
A SOCCER HALL OF FAME
The Hunt’s ambition to build a Hall of Fame for U.S. soccer has been planned for ... well, just go with a long time. Then add a few more years. What they have built is a worthy field trip, and a good stroll through the sport’s slow evolution in the U.S.
The HOF is 19,350 square feet, and inside on display are more than 400 artifacts to complement the interactive games people can play that can put them on an actual pitch against a famous player from today, or yesterday.
The interactive element alone makes this HOF worth it, and will appeal to the non-snooty football fan (not always easy to find).
Gathering all of this memorabilia and displaying it was the type of headache you would expect; most of the stuff had been stored in boxes in a warehouse on the East Coast for years before this home was built so it could be unearthed from boxes and made available for public viewing.
A tour here is manageable. It’s not so overwhelming, and you can see all of it within a reasonable amount of time, which was the goal.
“This has been far better than I ever could have expected,” Dan Hunt said. “There are some amazing artifacts; the women’s World Cup trophies. The homage to the NAFL. I say this in a non-critical way, but there are some Hall of Fames that are so big and there is so much stuff I don’t think everyone can get into all of it.
“The museum goers attention span has changed, and when we built this I had two different types of people in mind: A soccer purist, and the fan who doesn’t know quite as much. I think this will appeal to both.”
The Soccer Hall of Fame does accomplish that; it just will have to display an FC Dallas MLS Cup.