FRISCO - What a year 2017 has been. I've been all over North America, from Panama to Vancouver and LA to Philadelphia, covering FC Dallas this year with so many great stories to tell (many of which would not be suitable for FCDallas.com). It's hard to pick just five of my favorites from 2017, but here's my best attempt at it.
It was quite the youthful lineup way back on March 11 in Kansas City, but it provided the culmination of one of the coolest moments of my tenure at FCD as Homegrown Paxton Pomykal returned Bobby Rhine's No. 19 to the field for FC Dallas. While the video above was from 2016, the moment it took to fruition easily makes my 2017 list.
When we talk about the FC Dallas Youth club, we often keep a heavy focus on the Academy and the promising players that could one day see the field at Toyota Stadium. But beyond that, there are over 200 teams throughout where kids not only enjoy playing the sport, but are bettering their lives through soccer. Every year, over 100 kids sign National Letters of Intent to play collegiate soccer from FCDY and this year, we dove into just a few of the amazing stories behind the kids heading off to college. Talking to each and every one of these young men and women was inspiring to get a first-hand look at the people we're producing here at FCD, not just players.
The abrupt end of the 2017 FC Dallas season came with its own disappointment, but it also afforded us the time to build a really cool project around the 50th Anniversary of the true beginning of professional soccer in the United States. In 1967, the pioneer that was Lamar Hunt sent his team on a global excursion to grow the American game and act as stewards of goodwill for the City of Dallas and Texas as a whole. While playoffs would've been the ultimate goal, I can honestly say we would not have been able to tell this story as in-depth as we did if the club made the postseason. You have to find your silver linings when you can.
As FC Dallas prepared for Leg Two of their CCL Semifinal matchup with Pachuca, I was lucky enough to be on the week-long journey as the club journeyed to Mexico and trained in the altitude for eight days leading up to the match. While the experience was incredible as a whole, my favorite part of it all was FCD's home-away-from-home while training in the town of Puebla, a little complex of fields known as La Noria FC. Kids flocked to the training grounds and the Academy that trained there, and watching their faces light up watching the professionals train was incredible. Just watch the video above to learn about my fondest memory of our time there.
This one is easily one of my favorite pieces I've ever written, not just because of Fernando's story, but because of who Fernando is as a person. Yes, he'll respond to any rumor on Twitter or check in on Facebook for fans to see when he's scouting around the world. Yes, he'll talk to anyone he meets for any length of time, no matter how busy he is, making you feel as if you're the most important person around. But the side of Fernando most people don't get to see is the humble and kind-hearted one that we see around FC Dallas' offices every single day, saying "Hello!" to literally every person who walks by his office or asking how someone's day is. His story of how he got to FC Dallas just happens to be just as amazing as who Fernando Clavijo is as a person.