Over two years ago on this site, I talked about my sports background. I left something out, though.
I love watching (good) soccer.
It all started with the 2002 World Cup. It was during the summer after my junior year of high school, which meant I had little responsibility and could get away with staying up late enough to watch the games live. I even posted about it a little on my old website. But after it ended, I resumed my normal life of, well, staying up too late but generally not watching soccer.
Fast forward 4 years. I have just finished my junior year of college and I’m sitting in my room in Barcelona as the city explodes around me. The occasion? FC Barcelona had just won the Champions League. Oh, and then the World Cup happened. While I did not visit Germany during the competition, I made every effort to watch (even though the place I stayed at did not carry most of the games). I have three memories from the competition. The first is packing into a generic Irish pub off Las Ramblas in Barcelona, half-full of Americans and half-full of Italians for the US’s epic 1-1 draw. (Too bad it was, by far, their best effort in the competition.) The second was a couple weeks later, when my friend and I were walking down a street in Sevilla and noticed a bar packed to the gills with Germans. Looking in (since there was no space actually left inside) we could see the epic Germany-Argentina quarterfinal match. I think we arrived at some point in the second half and watched all the way to the conclusion. And then, of course, was the final. Back in Barcelona, my group headed out to a local bar. We got there early and ended up sharing a table next to a group of 4 friends, half of whom were British and half of whom were French. There was a fair amount of jawing and (but not mean sprited) talking going on during the match, that is, until Zinedane Zidane showed us all an entirely new meaning of “using your head”. And I’m still mad that Spain lost to France when I was in a packed hostel in Madrid that was quite ready to explode with a Spanish victory.
The obeservant reader will note that I haven’t seen a game in person, though I hope to remedy that this year. (A big anti-shout-out to US Soccer, by the way, for not having a qualifying match here on the West Coast. I mean, come on, I’d even be willing drive down to L.A.!) Right now, though, I watch decent soccer on Fox Soccer Channel and GolTV when I can. Like most American soccer fans, I have a favorite European club, and due to living there for most of summer 2006, it’s FC Barcelona. I realize this is like saying, “Oh, I’m a casual baseball fan and my favorite team is the Yankees because they’re good and on TV all the time!” but you’ll just have to deal with it. Besides, as my friend JD would point out, it’s not like I really know anything about any of their players anyway. (But I’m working on that!) I haven’t really attached myself to a US club yet, though with the lack of a Southern MLS franchise I may have to go for the Earthquakes. I kind of have to get used to watching MLS soccer, though – I think even the most diehard MLS fan would be forced to admit it’s not as exciting to watch as a good European match. (Case in point: I watched US Soccer struggle to scrape together their goals in a game against Mexico. I get home, turn on GolTV, and within 30 seconds Barca has converted the opponent’s corner kick into a fastbreak goal for them. Once again, I realize I’m talking probably the best club in the world right now. But still, they have a player who has more goals than several teams on La Liga. It’s ridiculous.)
Anyway, that all explains why there’s a soccer tracker on the right side of the page now, in case you were wondering.