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Ashanti Blaize, NBCDFW.com
A sellout crowd packed Pizza Hut Park for FC Dallas' season opening draw against the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Droves of FC Dallas fans flocked to Frisco hours before the season opener to see their team take the field.
"Can you imagine?" FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said. "We've almost doubled our crowd from last year's season opener."
What a difference a year makes.
The team went all the way to the MLS Cup last season, and fans started buying up tickets for this year's first game early.
"I was scared, because I didn't even buy the tickets until this week, and I was like, 'I hope they have at least one or maybe three tickets.' So to know they had tickets, it was like, 'Yay, we're going to the game,'" fan Scott Stanley said.
He said he was at the beginning of the line to get into the opener Saturday at about 3 p.m.
Fan Kat Cloer said the crowd was a nice change from last season.
"We used to come, and it was empty in the stands, so it's pretty exciting," she said.
The turnout was also exciting for the businesses surrounding Pizza Hut Park.
The Londoner restaurant has quickly become ground zero for FC Dallas tailgating festivities.
"The restaurants are packed now, whereas normally they're not, and there's just people everywhere," Cloer said. "They're selling beer, and everybody is having a good time, so it's really good for Frisco."
Hyndman said the team now has to keep the fans coming back for more.
"I think what we need to do is get them to continue to come back, so the product on the field will get them to come back," he said.
Milton Rodriguez scored in the 19th minute to help FC Dallas escape with a 1-1 tie.
Rodriguez redirected a pass from Zach Loyd with his right heel into the left corner of the net from just inside the top of the goalie's box.
Diego Chaves, making his MLS debut, scored in the 17th minute after he rebounded a deflected save off the right hand of goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and scored from 8 yards away.
Chicago's Cory Gibbs had the initial shot.
Loyd started the game in place of Jair Benitez, who missed the game with a suspension for spitting on an opposing player in the team's exhibition game against Houston on February 12th.