It's been three years since Bobby Rhine passed away. It doesn't feel like it could've possibly been that long ago.
Bobby (below right, celebrating a goal scored by now-head coach Oscar Pareja in Pareja's final professional match) was one of the genuinely nicest people I've ever known. I was lucky enough to work with him on a daily basis for a little over a year. Even when I was an intern brand new to the world of Major League Soccer, Bobby went out of his way to make me feel welcome at FC Dallas. He had a unique ability to lighten the mood and make you feel like he was one of your oldest friends.
Bobby was also a better ambassador for the Beautiful Game than FCD could've asked for, and he set the bar for what a club icon should be.
He was drafted by the Dallas Burn sixth overall in the 1999 MLS College Draft. From that point on, Bobby made Dallas his home.
He spent his entire 10-year playing career in a Burn/FC Dallas jersey (212 games played, 23 goals and 34 assists). Bobby met his wife here and started a family here. And after he hung up his boots in 2008, he became the voice of the club as he transitioned into a broadcasting career.
It's impossible to put into words what Bobby meant to those who knew him, but I highly recommend Nick Firchau's in-depth article from a year ago.
FC Dallas carries on Bobby's memory in a number of ways; the "Forever Our Voice" banner that hangs from the Toyota Stadium press box, an annual youth soccer tournament that bears his name, and for the third year in a row, FC Dallas staff, ownership, fans and partners will come together for the American Heart Association Heart Walk in Dallas.
You can sign up to join team BR19 here, and walk with us as we pay respect to the man who will be Forever Our Voice.
It's almost time for Saturday's huge match at RSL with third place in the Western Conference on the line. We break it down with our Toyota Keys to the Match:
Last weekend wasn't terribly kind to FC Dallas as Oscar Pareja's men lost for the first time since May 31st, falling 1-0 to Chicago. That coupled with two wins by Los Angeles and a win from Seattle certainly doesn't help FCD's quest for a top-3 finish, but Real Salt Lake failing to win in San Jose provides some relief, especially with Saturday's showdown at Rio Tinto looming. Here's the weekly look at the Western Conference playoff picture as the MLS week gets underway tonight:
1. Seattle Sounders FC
48 points(+11 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 win vs Colorado - Next match: 9/3 at Chivas USA - Last 5: W-W-D-L-W
A mid-season swoon seems to be in the rearview mirror for Sigi Schmid's side who secured all three points at home against Colorado last weekend despite not playing at their highest level. The Sounders have a two-point lead over Los Angeles with nine games left on their schedule and face a trip to Chivas USA on Wednesday night before taking the weekend off from MLS action.
2. LA Galaxy
46 points(+21 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win vs Chivas USA - Next match: 9/5 vs Colorado - Last 5: W-W-W-W-L
The league was put on notice this week. The Galaxy are officially red-hot. A two-match week of games at StubHub Center saw Los Angeles earn all six points with blowout victories over DC United and Chivas USA. They have another relatively straight-forward test on Friday night against Colorado and could take over first place in the Western Conference soon. They look like the team to beat right now.
3. Real Salt Lake
43 points(+9 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-1 draw vs San Jose - Next match: 9/6 vs FC Dallas - Last 5: T-L-W-W-W
Real Salt Lake won't be too disappointed with a point from a tricky trip to San Jose, but the fact remains that Jeff Cassar's side let a valuable opportunity to gain three points on FCD slip away from them. The draw at San Jose simply makes Saturday's upcoming game between RSL and FCD that much bigger. Given the form of Los Angeles and the points plus game in hand of Seattle, RSL and FCD look to be fighting it out for that third playoff spot in the west.
4. FC Dallas
42 points(+11 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss at Chicago - Next match: 9/6 at Real Salt Lake - Last 5: L-W-W-W-W
There's no reason for panic after a 1-0 loss at Chicago in what was really a strange game from the start. With all eight games remaining against the top six of the Western Conference, FCD will have to earn their way to the top of the West, but these tough games will certainly prepare them well for playoffs. FCD has had RSL's number this year so far and Saturday will be another tough test in Rio Tinto.
5. Portland Timbers FC
34 points(+1 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win at Vancouver - Next match: 9/7 vs San Jose - Last 5: W-L-D-W-L
Wins in August don't come much bigger than that one for Caleb Porter's side. The Timbers walked into BC Place and thoroughly demolished the Whitecaps 3-0 last weekend to jump above them into the 5th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They're certainly not out of the woods, but according to Sports Club Stats they raised their chances of making the playoffs by a whopping 20% with the win.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
33 points(-1 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 loss vs Portland - Next match: 9/6 vs DC United - Last 5: L-L-D-W-D
Boy that was quite the surprising result for the Whitecaps. We know how they struggle on the road, but the side is typically one of the strongest in MLS at home. They'll need to recover quickly from Sunday's loss with a tough DC United side coming to town this weekend in a match they really need to win.
7. Colorado Rapids
30 points(-3 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss at Seattle - Next match: 9/5 at Los Angeles - Last 5: L-L-L-L-L
There were plenty of positives to take from Saturday's 1-0 loss at Seattle, but we're getting to the time of the season where moral victories don't count for much. The losing streak is at six with just one win in their last ten and a trip to high-flying Los Angeles on Friday night won't provide any respite. Let's just say the Rapids are huge Earthquakes fans this weekend.
For years, we've seen the potential in Fabian Castillo knowing that he was capable of simply taking over an MLS game on his own, but we will all look back at the summer of 2014 as the time when Fabian took that next step from good to great.
The 22-year-old Colombian, amazingly now in his fourth season with FCD, had four goals and two assists in the month of August, earning him a nomination for Etihad MLS August Player of the Month. While Fabian was truly fantastic in the month, with his master-class against San Jose, and an August that saw him score or assist on game-winning goals in three of five matches, he really deserves your vote as something of a lifetime achievement award for the summer of 2014.
Except for this past Saturday's 1-0 loss to Chicago, Fabian had a goal or assist in every single game he played in the month of June, July and August. Let that sink in for a moment. A full Texas summer(kind of) with your name on every single score sheet.
And it wasn't just in MLS either, as Fabian lit up the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup scoring in all four rounds of FCD's semifinal run including the pulse-pounding late equalizer against Philadelphia in the semifinal.
In all, from June to August, the tally for Castilo in MLS and LHUSOC was ten goals and five assists in 11 games. It really doesn't get much better than that and while the LA Galaxy duo have the more impressive stats in August, Fabian Castillo gets my admittedly biased vote for Etihad MLS Player of the Month and he should get yours too.
SEGMENT 1: Steve Davis goes over the (very, very young) US national team roster for Wednesday's friendly.
SEGMENT 2: Marc Stein checks in from Spain, talking about transfers, Champions League draw and hard times for both of Manchester's powerhouse clubs.
SEGMENT 3: Steve visits with Fox Soccer's Kyle McCarthy, discussing Jermaine Jones' entry into MLS.
SEGMENT 4: A visit with young FC Dallas striker Tesho Akindele, who has pulled into the lead for MLS Rookie of the Year on many of the unofficial ballots.
We're in the first days of a new month and that means it's time to unveil the latest edition in our 2014 Scarf of the Month series. September's scarf pays tribute to Hispanic Heritage Month as we recognize and celebrate the contributions made by the Latin American community to the United States. Our September Scarf of the Month reflects the Latin culture with its intricate design and white fringe.
Septiembre representa el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, al reconocer y celebrar las contribuciones que ha hecho la comunidad Latinoamericana en los Estados Unidos. Nuestra Bufanda del mes de Septiembre refleja la cultura Latinoamericana a través de su intricado diseño y una franja blanca. Asegura la tuya antes de que se agoten!
Remember, there's a limited inventory for every Scarf of the Month, so get yours today before they're sold out!
Here are the best photos from Saturday's loss to Chicago:
Match highlights from FCD's 1-0 road loss to the Chicago Fire:
Hear from head coach Oscar Pareja, midfielder Victor Ulloa and defender Kellyn Acosta about Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire:
We are a family here at FC Dallas and we tragically and unexpectedly lost one of our own on Thursday. Please see the note below on "Fino" Garcia and consider donating to support the Garcia family after this unspeakably sad passing.
Delfino "Fino" Garcia, of FC Dallas' Premier 98s, was a gifted and tremendously talented young man. His passion for the game of soccer was evident in his play on the pitch. His style was nothing less than a graceful mastery of domination on offense. The young men who shared the field with him were more like true brothers than teammates. After a match, they often said "Fino had my back."
Well known and respected in our North Texas soccer community, Fino Garcia has a lengthy list of accomplishments, including playing for his current team, FC Dallas' Premier 98s, as well as FC Dallas' Pre-Academy from 2010-2014 and FC Dallas' Development Academy. Fino was part of a three-peat Championship win at North Texas' 2014 State Cup, wins at the 2013 Region III Championship and play at the 2013 National Championship in addition to another visit to this year's 2014 Regional Championship and the Dallas Cup Finals. He was also named ESPN's 2012 Copa Most Valuable Player.
On Sunday, August 24, 2014, while at home, Fino suffered a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, depleting his brain of oxygen, leaving him with no brain activity and unable to breathe on his own. He was placed on life-support at Children's Hospital of Dallas. After extensive testing, doctors determined the condition was present since birth and could not have been prevented. No treatment was possible. Fino passed peacefully on Thursday, August 28, 2014.
The sudden and tragic loss of this young man has been felt by so many. Family, friends, former and current teammates and coaches, Fino touched all of our lives. Out of this great heartache, Fino still finds a way to bless others. It was his wish to be an organ donor. In this way, Fino's spirit will live on.
Please consider donating to support the Garcia family. All donations will go toward Fino's medical expenses and related costs. Please share this link with others to increase the opportunity for others to give their support.
Our deepest thanks to everyone for your amazing generosity and continued thoughts and prayers. Our soccer community is rallying for support. This time Fino, we have your back.