FRISCO, Texas – As far as goal celebrations go, Michel’s was neither conventional nor initially well understood.
The FC Dallas midfielder earned a yellow card after his 88th-minute goal against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon for removing his jersey on the field, but it wasn’t in the midst of a mad sprint toward the home faithful or in the heat of the moment.
The Brazilian neatly laid his shirt flat on the pitch, knelt down and then genuflected on it. But rather than paying his spiritual respects, he was honoring the team that gave him a chance when he needed it most.
“I feel like above the players, above the directors, above the coaches, above everything is the club,” Michel explained through an interpreter after FC Dallas' 2-0 win at Toyota Stadium. “That was my homage to the club. The club opened their doors for me at a tough time for me in my career.”
Like many players in Greece, Michel had a dispute with his former Greek Superleague club, Aris, regarding unpaid wages. Earlier this season, FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo told MLSsoccer.com that the stability of Major League Soccer, where players can count on receiving their paychecks on time, is part of what attracted the 31-year-old veteran to the league.
In spite of a midseason malaise that saw him fall out of coach Schellas Hyndman’s first choice eleven, Michel has made his mark in his first season in the league with three goals and eight assists. But for him, the individual success is less important than what the team he plays for represents.
“In a few years or months, [players] are not going to be here anymore, [coaches] are not going to be here anymore, but the club stays," he said. "So that was my way of thanking the club and saying it’s above everything.”