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Soccer Not Dead in the USA
It has been a little over two days since I went to go see the US Men’s National Soccer Team play Chile in the first friendly of the year. My voice is still rasp from a combination of non-stop cheering and Los Angeles smog, but the chants and memories are still vivid in my head. As I was reading through a blog post from Matt Biggerstaff (aka Biggy) from Constantly Offside, I can’t help but reminisce how this all started and how far we have come.
Around four years ago, a group of friends (myself included) embarked on a journey that would change our lives and loyalty to our country forever. There were four of us, pumped up from the summer after seeing the Men’s National Team play China in a friendly in San Jose, CA. I remember the game vividly, the four hour drive down to The Home Depot Center in Carson from San Luis Obispo, the peer pressure of painting my face red, white and blue, and the energy from the stadium as we ran from the parking lot to the stadium; it was unreal. I remember all 4 of us cheering our hearts out in the midst of the opposing fans and US “fans” who were telling us to sit down. After the US won their game, I realized that we were a part of something much bigger, it wasn’t just a soccer game, it was a movement.
Fast forward four years later to January 22, 2011; our crew has grown from four to more than 30 of us traveling from all over California to unite for just a few hours in the name of soccer and the United States of America. Some would deem this game against Chile as “not worth” watching. No players from the World Cup team were on the roster for the game against Chile, as a matter of fact, most of the players have never seen play at the international level, with seven players earning their first caps. It’s like going out of your way to watch the Laker’s D-league team play; it’s just not worth it. But to us, it was more than a soccer game, it is a movement and a way of life. And it’s not just 30 of us that are a part of this revolution, we are a part of something larger and unified. In attendance were over 18,000 fans, and hundreds packed out The American Outlaws (The US National Team Supporter Club) section. People from all over country (yes, the country) came in to see the US “D-League” team play. The energy was off the charts and I never thought I could hug so many strangers when Teal Bunbury scored the equalizer goal on a penalty kick. You see, it’s more than just showing up to see your favorite player play, like you fickle Laker fans who don’t know a thing about basketball and have named your kid, dog and car after Kobe Bryant. It’s about supporting the team as a whole, each other and this country.
It’s amazing to think back and see how one game impacted our lives. For the game against Chile, it was a first live game for some of our friends, and when they smiled and said that this definitely won’t be their last, they didn’t need to explain, I understood completely. So for you all who think soccer is dead in the US, think again.
The revolution has just begun.