Well, I am now five weeks into my new life as an Evertonian living in Texas, and today, I had the opportunity to attend my first-ever match in person.

Unfortunately, I was not getting to see Everton, as my teenage son and I had to settle for the FC Dallas vs Clint Dempsey’s Seattle Sounders FC match in it’s place. In true Texas fashion, this match was just a short drive of 130 km from our home, so I spent the entirety of the Everton/Hull match driving instead of watching the match on my computer. I drove and had my son give me frequent score updates off of his phone, so I was very happy when he gave me the final update that indicated we had pulled out a 2-1 win. Five weeks into being a supporter of the Blues and we are 4-1 in that period. (I knew the Football Gods were leading me to a winner!)

As I indicated, this was the first-ever professional football match that I have attended. All I had to compare the MLS experience to was what I have witnessed of BPL coverage on TV here in the States.

A few observations:

We had tickets in the 14th row in one corner of the pitch, real close to the action. Of course, all the action during the first half was at the OTHER END of the pitch and the players looked like they were a mile away. Note to self: Get seats in the middle of the pitch next time.

The MLS players seemed to be moving in slow motion compared to what I have seen of BPL and European Football matches. Lots of periods where players seemed to be standing around, watching the grass grow, rather than chasing down the ball. I saw way too many balls actually roll to a stop, while still in play, with no player within yards of the ball.

Compared to the BPL, the passing and defending were noticeably weaker. You would think that a star like Clint Dempsey would come to the MLS and would score goals right and left because he is clearly superior to 99% of the players in this league. The problem is that is he has little support in the form of teammates that can actually pass the ball to him.

The MLS players seemed to be a half-second slow on everything they were doing. I have been a football fan for less than two months and here I was screaming at the top of my lungs for the player to CROSS THE BALL!!........or KICK THE BALL!!!........or GET BACK ON DEFENSE, YA IDIOT!!!..........

Again, to my new football eyes, it seemed they were just a tad slow in crossing, passing, getting back on defense, etc. Again, I could envision a great BPL scorer like Lukaku, Rooney, Benteke, etc... just killing these goaltenders.... as long as they could have someone actually delivering the ball to them when it needs to be there.

The Goalies..... Well, let’s just say that there is a reason these guys are in the MLS and not one of the better leagues. Dallas won this match 2-0 and both goals were on shots that a BPL goalie would have stopped with one eye closed and one hand tied behind his back. One goal was a header that actually bounced in front of the goalie before trickling in. We did NOT see anything remotely close to the header that Lukaku had earlier this season in which he actually knocked himself out cold, with the ball being in the net before the goalie could blink.

Let me say also that I did Everton proud and wore a yellow Everton goalie shirt that great Everton supporter and friend Ian had sent to me. My son was worried that I would get beat up in the parking lot, as he was convinced that we would encounter roving packs of Liverpool supporters in this suburban Dallas, Texas stadium. My son was wrong. Actually, with the exception of single supporters of Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, we saw no other gear or kits from any European teams whatsoever. I was the only Everton supporter in attendance as far as I could tell. Also, unlike the BPL matches, it seemed that only about half of the fans in attendance even had gear from the home team. The majority of the stadium was filled with families with kids, with just one small section behind one goal that contained BPL-worthy fans that were all chanting, singing, cussing, etc. The visiting section of Seattle fans had only about 50 loyal supporters, which is good considering the Sounders are from over 2,000 miles away.

The kid and I made a pact. We will attend any match in the future, anywhere here in Texas, that involves any team from the BPL or Europe. If Everton happens to come to Texas during the pre-season, we will pay whatever price in order to get the best seats in the house.

We will return to FC Dallas next season in order to see the LA Galaxy with Landon Donovan, and the Portland Timbers, who represent my home state of Oregon.

On my bucket list of things to do before I get old and cannot remember my own name, is to see a Blues game at Goodison Park, hopefully long before they ever get rid of Goodison Park.

In conclusion: A great day for Everton, and a fun day at my first match with the kid.

One note about the kid. He has broken my heart. He has decided that he is now a Blue... a Light Blue!!! Yes, my teenage son, who obviously we dropped on his head one too many times as a child, has decided that his own loyalties will now reside with... sigh... Man City.

He did as I did, watched matches, read about the teams, etc. and then made his choice. (The WRONG choice!)

Worry not. I am removing him from my will as soon as I am done with this post.

On the bright side, at least he’s not a RED!

Go Blues!!

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Reader Comments (11)

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Ken Crowther
1 Posted 20/10/2013 at 08:50:20
Paul, I follow your progress as an Evertonian with interest. I just hope that I'm still in possession of some of my faculties when (not if) you finally make it to Goodison, that should be some read.

Just one thing, it's the EPL (ENGLISH Premier League) not the BPL.

For some reason Welsh clubs are eligible (as you know Cardiff and Swansea have have a passing interest, but might not stay too long); however, so far, the Glasgow pair haven't made it - not, apparently, for want of trying.

Phil Sammon
2 Posted 20/10/2013 at 09:08:18
I think he's referring to the Barclays Premier League, Ken.

Those mental faculties are disappearing faster than you thought mate!

Ken Crowther
3 Posted 20/10/2013 at 09:20:14
Phil, I'm sure that you're right on both counts.

Now what the hell did I do with that zimmer?

Oh, no. Not bread and milk for breakfast again!!

Anthony Lewis
4 Posted 20/10/2013 at 09:54:00
Great stuff Mark. Keep em coming pal.
Dennis Stevens
5 Posted 20/10/2013 at 10:25:04
You're not alone Ken, I was thinking along the same lines - mind you, my daughter insists I've got early onset stupidity!
Andy Crooks
6 Posted 20/10/2013 at 11:03:15
A really good read, Mark, I think you should contribute to the site more often. Here's an idea. How about writing an article something along the lines of, say, how Shane Duffy should be called back from loan. How it might be an idea to start developing a partnership between him and Stones if RM wants footballing centre backs.

I think such an article would be well received. If not, you'll get away with it on account of you being new and all.

Ken Crowther
7 Posted 20/10/2013 at 14:58:57
Thanks Dennis #385

Nice to know that I'm not in a minority of one in terms of being a thick-head.

Mark Pakulak
8 Posted 20/10/2013 at 19:09:26
Sorry about the confusion on the BPL/EPL.............. Here in the US it seems half the websites and Sports Channels call it the BPL whereas the other half call it the EPL. (NBC advertises it as the Barclays Premier League) I do good to keep from calling it the dreaded "S" word (Soccer). My wife had to kick me a few times yesterday as I was describing how much fun our first socc....I mean....football match was......
Nick Entwistle
9 Posted 20/10/2013 at 20:49:04
Don;t worry Mark. It was called soccer over here before football.


Ian Burns
10 Posted 21/10/2013 at 15:00:20
Great read Mark. Last time I was in Dallas (Fort Worth) was so many years ago when Billy Bob's was the longest bar in the world!

Keep up the reports, great to follow. Thanks

Peter Mills
11 Posted 21/10/2013 at 20:50:34
I enjoy your posts Mark, although you do always seem to make reference to violence of some form, something which had largely been eradicated from our soccer, er football, over here. It clearly stems from your missus, and from the sound of it she should be booting Junior, not you!

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