FRISCO − It’s only week two of the MLS season and FC Dallas is already looking to add another trophy to their display. The team had a strong showing against the LA Galaxy last week, bringing home three points to Texas. Plus, they recently advanced to the semifinal round of the CONCACAF Championship League for the first time in club history, and will face 2016 Liga MX Clausura champions CF Pachuca at Toyota Stadium on March 15. All of this ahead of their home opener against the New England Revolution on March 18.
Club Chairman Clark Hunt told Shan & RJ on 105.3 The Fan he’s very optimistic for what’s ahead. “We had a great year last year. We won two out of three championships that you can win in the course of a year. And we’re looking forward to adding to that and hopefully getting a couple of titles that eluded us last year. That being MLS Cup and the CONCACAF Champions.”
Of course, the popularity of soccer in the DFW Metroplex is an ongoing debate. “[There’s a] tremendous appetite for soccer in this country. There’s a tremendous appetite for soccer on TV. MLS teams continue to break attendance every year. We’re expecting a big uptick at FC Dallas, in part driven by the success that we had last year.” In fact, according to MLS, opening weekend viewership was the highest in the U.S. since 2004. That includes the most-viewed opening weekend game on a Spanish-language channel (Univision, Dallas vs. LA Galaxy drew 509,000 viewers).
Hunt also added the youth program is an indicator on the popularity of soccer, with FC Dallas having one of the best and largest in the country, “we think it has a very, very high ceiling, to borrow a sports term. And we’re very excited to have the club playing here in Frisco.”
It’s no secret that the Hunt family patriarch had a huge impact on FC Dallas and MLS. Clark Hunt only wished that his father Lamar had lived to see what MLS has become today. “He was probably too early with his vision. I’ve thought many times over the course of the last five years when I’m at FC Dallas games or at MLS Cups, that I wish he could be there to see how big it has become because I think his dream has become a reality and he would be thrilled with where it is.”
Toyota Stadium is not only the home of FC Dallas, but as we all know, the future home of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum. “It’s gonna really change the atmosphere at the stadium significantly. We’re gonna add a lot of club space. We’ll obviously be adding the Hall of Fame. We’re adding a roof structure to part of the stadium.”
As for who will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, there are already over 200 inductees, including Lamar Hunt. But as far as the future goes, Clark Hunt wouldn’t be surprised to see a few familiar faces in the future. “It’s something that U.S. Soccer takes the lead on every year. Our technical director, Fernando Clavijo, he used to play for the U.S. National Team, he’s also a member. And I think we have some players on our current roster and our coach, Oscar Pareja, who one day may be in that Hall of Fame as well.”
Both Clark and Dan Hunt call Dallas home, but spend a fair amount of time with the other family business, the Kansas City Chiefs. Which led to the question, who has the better barbecue? The answer isn’t quite so easy. “I’m not gonna pick either one. You can count on me to have barbeque for breakfast, lunch, and dinner no matter where I am.”
The FC Dallas will travel to Kansas to play Sporting KC on March 11 before returning home to play in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal round against Pachuca. FC Dallas will play their 2017 home opener on Saturday, March 18 at Toyota Stadium against the New England Revolution.