Over the weekend, I got the chance to attend a Dallas Sidekicks game at the Allen Event Center. Having never heard of the Sidekicks, I was excited to get in to see them and figure out what they were all about.
I must admit, however, that I was a bit skeptical going into the game. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I knew that it was an arena soccer game, but my mind immediately jumped to arena football: slamming people over the sides of walls, high scoring affairs, and raucous crowds. Were any of these true? Sunday afternoon gave me a reality check.
Arena soccer, I must admit, was incredibly entertaining (even though no one was slammed over a wall). It combines the action and intensity of arena football with the skill and technicality of outdoor soccer. The pace of play and the look of the game are both very similar to a hockey match: end to end play with lots of shots.
The critique I hear most often from people who don’t like soccer is that “it’s boring”. Following that statement is a list of grievances that includes, but is not limited to: slow pace of play, not many goals, running clock/”extra time”, etc. I am here to tell you that the Sidekicks’ games have none of these things!
So, for the non-soccer fan that is still intrigued by people kicking around a ball with their feet, the Sidekicks are great, especially if you like hockey. There are power plays when a penalty is committed, you can play the ball strategically against the wall, and the pace of the game always keeps you on your toes.
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Soccer plays often take a long time to develop, which takes a certain kind of patience to enjoy and appreciate. Not much is going to catch you off guard in a soccer game. Arena soccer, however, can catch you completely off guard at any moment. If you look down to check your watch (like I did), you can miss a goal that comes out of nothing!
The great thing about the Sidekicks, though, is that the avid soccer fan can enjoy the beauty of the beautiful game! One of the goals scored in yesterday’s game by Oxford City (the Sidekicks’ opponent) was a spectacular volley rifled into the side of the net. Anyone who appreciates the game of soccer could appreciate the talent it took to execute such a shot.
There are also some other intricacies within the game that are similar to soccer. What constitutes a foul is pretty consistent with what you would see in MLS or any other soccer league. There are corner kicks, free kicks (although they look a bit different), and the players even bicker at the referees like in a soccer match!
All of these things combine together to make a really enjoyable experience for everyone at the game. On top of the gameplay itself being entertaining, yesterday’s match provided some fireworks in the final quarter. Oxford City took a 4-3 lead with six minutes to go off of the aforementioned volley. I remember thinking, “That’s the dagger.”
Much to the delight of the crowd and my surprise, the Sidekicks stormed back with two goals in the span of two minutes to retake the lead at 5-4. Despite Oxford City throwing on an extra attacker for the last four minutes (another hockey touch), the Sidekicks secured a 5-4 home victory. When the horn sounded, I realized something; I was on my feet and cheering wildly for a team I had only just started following. The team had me hooked after just one game!
My skepticism had turned to delight as I walked out of the arena Sunday evening. The Sidekicks thoroughly succeeded in entertaining me and creating in me a repeat customer. If you are skeptical like I was, you have nothing to lose from giving it a shot and heading out to a game. The tickets are inexpensive, and the atmosphere is great. You won’t regret going out and giving the Sidekicks a try.
Their upcoming home games are January 31st, February 15th, and February 21st at the Allen Event Center.