NOTE: This article was originally posted November 2013. Saturday's May 31 match vs San Jose was Daniel's last with the organization as he is moving to Jacksonville to take over as Head Equipment Manager for the newly-formed Jacksonville Armada of the NASL. Everyone at FC Dallas wishes Daniel nothing but the best. He will be missed around Toyota Stadium.
You may not know his name, but those who frequent Toyota Stadium will probably recognize his face.
FC Dallas Assistant Team Administrator Daniel Granados has been with the club full-time for the past two years, but the soft-spoken native of Leon, Guanajuato goes all the way back to 1996 and the opening days of the franchise.
“I was in the stands [at the Cotton Bowl] in 1996 and saw the ball kids,” said Granados who was 22 at the time of MLS’ inception. “I thought it was kind of cool, so I asked and they gave me a phone number. I called and never heard back from anyone until 1997 when I was going to renew my season tickets and I got a call asking if I wanted to do it.”
The life-long soccer fan who was working as a cook at the time jumped at the chance to be involved with the new franchise and worked his way up from a volunteer to full-time employee.
“I started passing out flyers outside the Cotton Bowl and one time they were short on ball kids so they asked me if I wanted to do that,” said Granados. “In 1998, I was in charge of the ball kids and then working in game operations.”
“In 1999, there was an opening in the office helping with stadium operations where we were in charge of delivering things to the visitors and handling game day operations part-time. Then after that, [former team admin] Bobby Hammond was looking for an assistant. They interviewed me and that was the first full-time job maybe in 2000 or 2001.”
Granados left the team for a short time in 2003, but when current FC Dallas equipment manager Marcus Owens joined the club in 2005, the Oak Cliff resident linked back up with the newly-renamed franchise. Since then, Granados has risen from a fan-turned-ball kid to one of the most vital cogs in the FC Dallas engine. His official title these days is assistant team administrator, but that hardly describes his importance to the team.
“He’s very much behind the scenes. He’s not a limelight type of guy. He’s in here early, he’s in here late and he does a lot of things behind the scenes that people don’t know about that are probably well beyond his job description of dealing with the equipment, locker room issues, etc.,” said first team assistant coach Marco Ferruzzi. “He’s constantly helping guys get acclimated, especially the boys coming from South and Central America. He’s their go to guy for the most part which is huge.”
It’s tough to find a title that truly defines Granados’ job as during the mornings you can find him shagging balls or setting up cones at training while throughout the rest of the week, as Ferruzzi said, he’s assisting players who come over with no concept of life in America and how to integrate themselves into a brand new country and culture.
“I’m responsible for helping players when they get here with apartments, cars, drivers license, the proper visas they need for pre-season, just helping all the foreign players adjust to the city,” said Granados. “Whatever they need, I’m here to help them.”
“It’s fun, but it also takes a lot of time because there’s a lot of stuff going on. I prefer being outside chasing balls with the guys rather than driving to the airport every other day,” he says with a trademark smile. “I know many ways to the airport.”
More of a listener than a talker, the job seems to fit Granados perfectly. You’ll struggle to find a more humble and hard-working person than Daniel who said he leaves his Oak Cliff residence by 6:00AM each morning.
“Danny keeps me sane,” said equipment manager Marcus Owens. “He’s the guy that keeps me on an even keel because a lot of people ask him to do things and he does it without question. Some things I probably wouldn’t do, but he’s a big help to me and I appreciate everything he does.”
Married but without children, Granados makes himself available to his team at the drop of a text, providing an invaluable service even to players who may have joined FCD just hours earlier.
“He was the one who helped me to get settled, moved me into a hotel and texted me to see if everything was ok,” said Je-Vaughn Watson who joined FCD via trade earlier in 2013. “He helped me to find a car. He helped me to find an apartment… He’s always motivating me. He’s just a cool guy and I’m happy that I’ve gotten to know him.”
As someone who’s probably seen more of the franchise’s games than anyone else, Granados references both former heroes like Ariel Graziani and legendary playoff battles against Chicago among his favorite memories as well as, of course, the great moments of 2010’s run to MLS Cup. Despite his passion for the team, in true Granados fashion you won’t hear much from him on the bench during games, walking off after every home game with a smile and a bag of soccer balls.
“I keep everything to myself,” he says. “Until I’m in the car with my wife.”