Like most of you, I've spent my fair share of time roaming around the intertubes posting on various message boards, commenting on stories, looking for an insight or a laugh.
As the game in North America has grown over the past five years and media coverage has gotten better, I've spent less and less time doing so. But I'd still find myself occasionally making a pit stop on BigSoccer - sometime the on-topic boards, sometimes off-topic - and one of the commenters I'd always go out of my way to look for was CHICO13.
I didn't know him personally - didn't even know his name - but I liked that he was an original '96 fan. I liked what he had to say about the game (and a lot of other things), I liked that he treated other posters with respect but not deference, I liked that he liked Frank Zappa. And most of all I liked that he was intellectually honest about his beliefs and biases, and was happy to discuss them as a human being. That's all too rare anywhere, but especially on the internet.
It turns out that I won't be reading anymore posts by CHICO13 in the future. His non-internet name was Chico Solares, and he passed suddenly and - from what I gather - somewhat unexpectedly on Tuesday evening.
D.C. United, both the club and the fans, will be holding a 12th-minute tribute to him tonight.
I'll be holding my own tribute as well, listening to "Hot Rats," watching the team he loved and enjoying the game that he - and so many like him who've put their heart and soul into MLS - helped make so special.
Rest in peace.
WATCH: D.C. fans pay tribute to Solares