Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News
Several North Texas soccer fans will be in Brazil for the World Cup, they consider it a once in a lifetime experience.
Many North Texas soccer fans are busy packing their bags right now before heading to Brazil today for the World Cup.
Some call it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the four week football extravaganza.
"I've been looking forward to this for so long. I actually had the details and everything booked since December, so it’s been counting days since that time," said Ryan Hurtado. "So yeah, a day away, it’s hard to focus at this point."
Several employees of FC Dallas, the Major League Soccer franchise based in Frisco, are headed to Rio in order to catch some games.
Ryan Hurtado works in ticket sales for the team, and this is his first World Cup. He said seeing the US Men's National Team play next week will be a "spiritual experience."
"It's taking soccer to the next level for us. I haven't even wrapped my head around it, I can't even imagine what it's going to be like," he said.
"I'm actually asked around the office to tone it down, you're talking too much about the World Cup," he added with a smile.
Melissa Reddick also works for FC Dallas and is thrilled about the opportunity to experience the tournament.
"I'm just excited to experience the atmosphere. To see all the teams, to see the fans and how passionate they are," Reddick said.
While in Brazil, Reddick will be volunteering with a charity called Lionsraw, an organization that helps promote soccer in poor communities.
"We've taken a bunch of jerseys, a bunch of balls, a bunch of t-shirts and things, and we'll be able to play soccer with kids out in the villages," she said.
FC Dallas President Daniel Hunt is used to traveling the world for the World Cup. Rio is his eighth World Cup, spread out over more than three decades. But he said this one is different.
"I kind of look at Brazil as the birthplace of soccer, so I'm excited to see their home fan support. And I’m really excited for the US, there's obviously been a lot of thought going into this tournament about our roster," Hunt said.
Hunt hopes interest in the World Cup provides a boost to ticket sales here at home.
"Fringe fans see the World Cup, they see the fanfare around it, and they say, 'well let's check out the local team here.'"
"There's a natural interest that’s kind of growing in the US, and people want to figure out what the closest game is to them. Then they realize MLS is all around them, and it’s getting bigger," added Hurtado.