Forgive Bobby Rhine for being a bit of a homer sometimes. The longtime FC Dallas and Dallas Burn player is in a unique position as the play-by-play announcer with Fox Sports Southwest, forced to somehow control himself when good things happen to the team he loves.
And he’d also never called anything like Eric Avila’s last-gasp equalizer for FCD during a 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew at Pizza Hut Park on April 10. But the emotion of the ensuing call – which hits a high note with Rhine’s rapidly escalating “Avila, Avila, AVILA!” – gives credence to the idea that sometimes a fan is, in fact, the best person to put behind the microphone.
It’s also the winner for our MLS Broadcaster Call of the Year.
The moment had special resonance for Rhine, who played alongside the much younger Avila before retiring after the 2008 season. Avila is a bit of a fan favorite in Dallas and had scored dramatic goals in the past (he also went on to score the late winner of FCD’s 2-1 playoff victory over Real Salt Lake), and Rhine knew such a heroic moment was a huge confidence boost for the 23-year-old midfielder.
The goal itself didn’t come without controversy. The Crew’s Guillermo Barros Schelotto howled for a handball when Avila picked his pocket at the edge of the box, and a swarm of Crew players engulfed head referee Jason Ano after Avila’s right-footed blast beat William Hesmer to the back post.
No matter. The goal was true, and pandemonium ensued.
“To watch the replay gives me goose bumps all over again,” Rhine said. “The crowd absolutely erupted.”
Rhine worked exclusively in color commentary during the 2009 season and only tried his hand in play-by-play broadcasting at the beginning of this season. The Crew game, in fact, was just the second game he’d ever worked from behind the mic as the booth’s supposedly most objective figure, a role he admits now that he may have failed to live up to.
“Maybe I still had my FC Dallas fan hat on,” Rhine said. “The moment that ball went in, I think it was very obvious what a special moment I felt. I knew what it meant for Eric and what it meant for the team, and I wanted the people at home to feel the excitement of that moment.”
Follow Bobby Rhine on Twitter @bobbyrhine!