Last Saturday’s MLS regular season game between the FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps was a hot topic among Korean-Americans in Dallas.
|▲ YP Lee of Vancouver Whitecaps is signing autographs before boarding the team bus.
About 800 Korean-Americans filed into the FC Dallas Stadium to get a glimpse of the Whitecaps’ defender YP Lee.
Lee is the star player who played a vital role in the Korean national team’s semi-final 'miracle' at the 2002 World Cup in Seoul, Korea.
The entire Dallas Korean-American community had been buzzing about YP’s game against FC Dallas. 800 Korean-American fans were lucky enough to witness YP in action from a close distance.
About 200 children, dressed in red and with their FC Dallas face painting on, cheered as the game went on. Korean-American adults also enjoyed rare chance to witness YP’s play.
After his team lost the game 0:1, YP ran to the Korean-American fans and threw in his jersey, causing a brief frenzy in the stand.
YP also spent quite a bit of time signing autographs before he boarded the team bus after the game. Roughly two hundred Korean-Americans swarmed the Whitecaps’ bus in hopes of getting Lee’s autographs or capturing his image on their smart phones.
YP thanked the Korean-American fans for their support during the post-game interview in the conference room.
"I didn’t know there were this many Korean-Americans here in Dallas. It was pleasantly surprising. If we had won the game, it would’ve been a nice gift for them but I’m glad they were able to enjoy themselves" said Lee.
Indeed, 800 Korean-Americans enjoyed themselves. Charles Kim of Carrollton said he found a new love, namely FC Dallas.
"I’m a big soccer fan. And I knew that we had FC Dallas as our home team but this was the first time I actually attended FC Dallas game" said Park.
"I mean, aside from the YP Lee attraction, I’m glad I came to this game because it reminded me that we have a great home team to root for" said Park.
Young Sun Choi of Plano said her two sons had a blast. "My kids play in the Korean Soccer Association’s Youth League. So, they love soccer. Unfortunately they were both born here and they don’t know who YP Lee is. But they became FC Dallas fans after the game. They are already begging for FC Dallas jersey. The stadium is very nice and my husband wants to bring the kids to FC Dallas game regularly from now on" said Choi.
As shown during the 2002 World Cup, Koreans are crazy about the game of soccer, both as a spectator sport and a recreational sport to say in shape.
And the same is true in the Dallas-Fort Worth Korean-American community, which has the population estimated at about 80,000.
Many Korean-Americans, ranging from youths to adults in their 60’s, participate in various amateur soccer clubs. Korean Soccer Association of Dallas alone boasts about 200 youth soccer membership.
Several Korean-American amateur soccer clubs also participate in the North Texas Premier Soccer Association.
For many Dallas Korean-American soccer fans, last Saturday’s game started out as a love affair with YP Lee. Now that YP is gone, Korean-American soccer fans appear to be ready to start a new relationship with FC Dallas.
And FC Dallas midfielder Julian de Guzman’s picturesque winning goal will leave a lasting impression in the minds of the Dallas Korean-American soccer fans.