September 29, 2023

One of the things I love about married life is that my bride enjoys road trips, as do I. She also enjoys sports. Double bonus. So, it was an especially awesome treat for me to get to see my favorite soccer player, Wayne Rooney, in Dallas for the Fourth.

The older I get, the less I’m tied to the team of my residence. Or region. Oh, I’m aware of the rules of rooting relative to geography, but given that Oklahoma City probably still has more St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans than Texas Rangers supporters, I’m good with the rules being thrown out the window.

Plus, I’m not obligated to root for whom the masses tell me.

That includes national teams, for the record.

And I’m not obligated to always root for the underdog in the NCAA tourney.

I regularly root for Duke.

And in these NBA Playoffs, I rooted for the world-champion Toronto Raptors, not just in the Finals versus the unlikable Golden State Warriors, but for the entire playoff run. Why? Because they had never won, and my wife and I took our honeymoon to Toronto.

Likewise, I rooted and still root for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team of my geography, even though I’ve liked them less and less as the years have gone on mostly because of a certain star’s cantankerous personality and his treatment of reporters, who are just doing their job, especially the one guy who’s borne the brunt of it.

I root for players and story lines.

Cleveland has my eye and heart because of Baker Mayfield, and for the record, they were coming off an 0-16 season when I started pulling for them.

There’s more.

I rooted for the L.A. Clippers for years, during the Brand era, because I loved the team’s play-by-play announcer, Ralph Lawler. I’m currently rooting for the Washington Nationals because of theirs, Bob Carpenter, and because they’ve got a neat post-Harper story going.

Allegiance to the wife means I pull for the L.A. Dodgers and the UCLA Bruins. But my fanship of the Army Black Knights came pre-Kristi. Her father was a West Point man. Besides, I just love how Army does things: discipline, preparedness, humility.

I loved the Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker era Wichita State Shockers. Still love the Shockers.

And in the world of soccer, I became a Spurs fan thanks to Gareth Bale and a D.C. United supporter, thanks to Wayne Rooney. One play encapsulates the moment he won me over:

That’s the best sports play, the best one-man sports effort I can recall, this side of Marshawn Lynch a la Seahawks-Saints. When I got the chance to go see Rooney play Thursday against FC Dallas in Frisco, I snagged it.

But first, Kristi and I stopped at an In-N-Out Burger somewhere near Dallas, in Denton I believe. As a guy who lived in Texas for more than a decade, my allegiance to Whataburger is real. However, In-N-Out is equally wonderful.

If you’ve never been to Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Here are three things you should know:

  • They have free parking available and lots of it.
  • Shade is on the west side of the stadium.
  • It’s Texas. Folks are super friendly.

Truth be told, I also root for FC Dallas albeit in a very lukewarm fashion. They don’t have any players that I’m familiar with or who compel me to root for them. I don’t mean it as a total pejorative, but outside of proximity, there’s nothing about the team that would cause me to like them:

  • Their kits are super generic. D.C. United’s kits, especially the two-tone white ones, are beautiful.
  • The stadium is nice but cookie-cutter.
  • What’s their tradition? Minnesota United has “Wonderwall.” Now, that’s cool!

Anyway, we get down there, and Rooney darn nearly gets sent off with a red card in the 33rd minute.

That would have sucked considering we drove to Dallas not just to watch D.C. United but mostly to see Rooney. We weren’t the only ones. Luis Acosta, my second-favorite player on D.C. United got sent off in the second half.

The D.C. United team as a whole isn’t playing well at all, but Thursday’s loss was only their first loss in five matches.

I can’t complain. I took my opportunity to see my team in action and root on one of the sport’s all-time greats. More road trips to Dallas!

Plus, we got fireworks — so I might as well make use of photos I took during the display. Why do we snap photos of fireworks? They almost never look good.

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