FRISCO, Texas – Twenty-four years ago, the Dallas Burn played its first game in front of 27,779 fans at the Cotton Bowl, defeating the San Jose Clash in Major League Soccer’s first shootout.
To honor the anniversary, FC Dallas streamed the inaugural game last night, Tuesday, April 14. The Burn’s first head coach Dave Dir and the 1996 MLS Goalkeeper of the year Mark Dodd joined the stream to share their memories from the big match.
Dave Dir and Mark Dodd compare today's game to soccer in America back in 1996. ⚽— Dallas Burn (@FCDallas) April 15, 2020
Join the conversation on Facebook, and watch our Inaugural Match on https://t.co/ReIfXS1qfF! pic.twitter.com/TOBCHeTp6v
Mark Dodd was the clear hero on the day. The Dallas native made four saves in the shootout, earning roars from the crowd and embraces from his teammates. Despite Dodd's heroics, winning in front of his closest supporters was his favorite highlight from the game.
“To come away with a victory there was great,” Dodd said on Tuesday night’s livestream. “After all the media hype it was great to come away from that with a win, you could see everyone was excited about it. It’s hard to put into words [what it was like] to be able to do that in front of your family and friends and in your hometown. It was a very gratifying feeling. It really was.”
The game was part of a much wider moment in American soccer. It was the beginning of a new era as MLS franchises kicked off all around the country in April of '96.
“I think the whole sport got really legitimized in that first year,” said FC Dallas’ all-time leading scorer Jason Kreis, who made his debut in the Burn’s first match on April 14. “As someone who had poured so much emotion and energy into a sport their entire life – and sacrificed so many things from a social perspective growing up – it was really awesome to feel like we were getting some recognition and appreciation for our efforts. It was a big deal. It just fun to be a part of.”
For coach Dir, the significance of the game didn’t sink in until much later.
[The first game] is something I’m very proud of,” he said towards the end of the livestream. “You don’t really think about it like that until you have a chance to reflect on things. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in the league in one way or another since then—25 years. To look back and know that I helped start something and built it from scratch, that’s an incredibly proud moment for me.”