Yes, to the rest of the world, it’s ‘football’. But in these United States of America, it’s known as ‘soccer.’
As for my ‘Top of Mind’ in regards to soccer, for years my response would have been Pele, Messi and Ronaldo. These days, it’s the Seattle Sounders. They’ve been my home town team for a dozen years now. When you appear in the championship game three of four years, you know you’re cheering for a team that’s doing something right.
What do I know about the Seattle Sounders? Their current coach is a guy who played high school soccer at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, and actually played with the team years ago. Drew Carey is among the owners, as is Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, his wife Ciara and Seattle rapper Macklemore. My radio brother Ken Carson leads the “March to the Match” every week.
However, I will admit, soccer has its detractors and its hard to justify watching a 0-0 game that shaves 90 minutes off your life. (OK, nil-nil) So, how did I become a fan of this non-baseball/basketball/football sport?
It was not overnight. Going back to when I was growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, somebody somewhere thought it would be a good idea to bring a bunch of European soccer teams to the U.S., assign them to major cities, and see what America thought of soccer. My team was the L.A. Wolves. I don’t remember much about them except the fact we never went to any games during the season, but somehow, my dad nabbed tickets to the season championship game. The L.A. Wolves won in triple overtime! Pretty exciting stuff, but that was the only year that league existed.
Flash forward to the early 1990s, when my daughter wanted to play soccer because all of her friends were. We signed her up, but the league informed us there weren’t enough coaches. So, I volunteered to coach a sport I knew nothing about. I went to a couple of coach clinics, got my cones and practice balls, and attempted to make them soccer smart. The same thing happened with my son, where their team had no coach, so I stepped up. Waking up at 2:17AM every morning and being done with work by noon, that gave me time to catch a nap, pick up the kids at school and then go to a field somewhere and coach them.
Eventually, more soccer-knowledgeable dads stepped up and I returned to the sidelines and studied the game. I had to admit, it was pretty darn exciting.
After my kids retired from the sport, I pretty much put soccer on the backburner until I met my wife, Victoria, whose son, Nick, was an All-Kingco goalie and soccer was pretty much their sport of choice. So, back in I went.
We catch most Sounders games during the season on the DVR and then fast-forward through them to see all the scoring highlights. I have to say that the passion the die-hard Sounders have is commendable and on par with what their European counterparts are doing.
The women have already shown us that the U.S. can win a World Cup. Now, it’s time for the guys to up their game. I still know people who just can’t get into soccer and I understand. You need a person connection like your kid playing to discover the intricacies of the mini-games within the game. Much like baseball, who some people feel it’s like watching grass grow, if you learn those little nuances of the game, it’s fascinating.
And so, here I am, a Seattle Sounders fan “until I die”, as the fans chant every game. It’s a team of unlikely but talented heroes who put it all together, even when the odds were against them. And what’s not to love about that.
The Seattle Sounders have discovered the secret sauce of how to always be a contender and that definitely keeps bringing me back. I can’t wait until next year! Thanks for a great 2019 Championship Year!