why FCD is slipping, why Clint Dempsey is so good, why Def Leppard in its prime would blow Staind off the stage -- and at the end of the show he invited me to the Inferno's tailgate before the New England game at Pizza Hut Park. "We've got beer," he promised. I didn't want to be rude, so I accepted.
The Inferno were set up in the northeast parking lot outside the Deep Dish three hours before kickoff, armed with tents, coolers, and hibachis. No soccer balls. They're not interested in playing. Just having a good time. "Well in there, son," I say.
So here's the first thing I learned: The Inferno is split into two factions -- the Cheap Brew Crew (Lone Star cans) and the Beer Snobs (Newcastle bottles). You can probably guess which side I hung out with.
Here's the second thing I learned: They've got their hearts in the right place. On the night I was in Frisco, he presented the American Cancer Society with a check for $1,009.88, raised by the Inferno during a 24-hour kickabout fundraiser.
Here's No. 3: The Inferno knows how to throw a killer wedding shower. Champagne, presents wrapped in pastel-colored paper, a short- and-sweet toast by a guy in a kilt and motorcycle boots. A couple of Inferno folks are getting married this fall. I don't know about you, but to me that seems like some soccer-specific kind of inbreeding. Whatever, they looked happy and let's hope they bear enough little Infernal creatures to fill Pizza Hut Park -- or at least to help complete construction of the stadium.
And that leads me to the last thing I learned: The Inferno are really psyched about Pizza Hut Park. While we were guzzling champagne from plastic cups (except the Cheap Beer Crew, who poured Lone Star into the stemmed cups), they passed around a banner that read, "Thank you, Uncle Lamar." It was great. They got it. They understood what a big deal having your own stadium is.
At one point, one guy refused to sign the banner. "No way. Lamar took us out to Southlake. That [stunk]."
"What are you talking about? Have you looked over there?" the banner- keeper replied, pointing toward the stadium. "You're the [bleep]."
That was my cue to leave. Personal policy: When champagne drinkers in kilts start "bleeping" each other, I run away faster than Brave Sir Robin.
Which was fine with me because it meant I could explore Pizza Hut Park.
All right, I'll get the hardhat zone stuff out of the way first: Yes, the locker rooms are showerless double wides tucked under the northeast corner stands right now. And, yes, the TV crews had to run two miles of extra cable. And, yes, the parking lots are still dusty. And, yes, the post-game traffic moved slower than a Texas cowboy with tickets to an Indigo Girls concert.
But even half-baked as it is right now, the Deep Dish (time to start trying out nicknames) is one funky little stadium with the potential to be a beer-swilling, chain-smoking, name-calling pit of despair for visiting teams. And that's just describing the soccer Moms I encountered at a nearby Irish pub after the game. I'm not kidding.
At the Brick Oven, the seats slam right down to the touchline. The Stadium Club -- a.k.a. the first pick-up joint in MLS -- boasts oversized windows looking down at midfield. The built-in stage looks big enough to handle the entire cast of characters that is the Polyphonic Spree.
And then there's the field. Wow. To call it a carpet gives too much credit to carpets. The P-Hut's turf is cashmere. What's crazy is that there are 17 similarly plush fields just outside the stadium. Man, the Eddie Johnsons of today and tomorrow have no idea the luxury they've got. When I was a kid, we played on fields strewn with nails and needles. And it always rained.
OK, that's not true, but the fields of suburban Detroit were never like the velvet they've got down there in Frisco.
Alas, so far, the 'ZaPa has been delivering cold pies to FCD. One draw, and then the 2-1 loss the side suffered at the hands of New England on the night I visited.
Then again, they can't really blame the stadium, can they? After all, FCD hasn't won an MLS game since June 25.
It's gotten so bad that my new Texas buddy, Josh, is in the midst of a "shaving strike," refusing to cut off his beard until the club wins. He's documenting it, sent me the photos. Let me tell you, it's not pretty. But the fact that an MLS fan has chosen to do such a thing sure is beautiful.
Greg Lalas played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New England Revolution in 1996 and 1997. Send e-mail to Greg at email@example.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.