They say soccer isn’t popular in America.  They say Americans “just don’t get it.”  Some even say we don’t deserve to play the sport.  Maybe I haven’t Bent it like Beckham but I LOVE SOCCER.

 As a latecomer to the game at the old age of 14, I quickly played every moment I could.  Fast-paced, and rough, I relished playing offense or defense.  I was the fast one, not a ton of skills but I could beat anyone down the field; I sacrificed by skull to the art of “the header” resulting in a concussion.  Nothing like spitting shards of teeth out the sideline.  My coach new I’d do anything to win.  Then our goalie got hurt.  Thrown into the most stressful job on the team, I wrestled with cleats to the face, jammed fingers, penalty kicks and soul-crushing goals.  Yeah, I love soccer.

But it wasn’t until traveling through England during college that I really understood what soccer meant to the rest of the world.  Throngs of people would fill pubs across the city, quietly ordering a pint and watching the television dead-eyed as their national pride was put to the test.   A goal, much less a winning goal, sent beers flying and bear hugs around the room. 

I bought my first jersey at shop in downtown London – a shiny red embellished Manchester United shirt with a black collar.  I was still an American no matter where I went (apparently Europeans can spot our swagger a mile away.)  But nonetheless, my effort was somewhat appreciated.

That was 12 years ago. I misplaced that jersey somewhere between moving apartments and dedicating my weekends to being a parent.  Of course, all I need to do is go to Whooptee.com, search Athletics  and recreate my Manchester shirt – or maybe the reincarnated version of it.  The only hard part will be choosing between the Adidas Climalite Short Sleeve Tee Shirt   or the Rawlings Long Sleeve Flatback Mesh Fleece Pullover.  Maybe I’ll order both custom t shirts; you know a backup for the next phase of fandom.


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