Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Converting a Footballer to a Futboler

The crowd is a low rumbling tremor for 90 straight minutes. The electricity is palpable. The 40,000 in attendance could power the lights throughout the stadium on pure natural energy alone. The singing refuses to stop; song and splendor carries out into the night.

I am now a soccer man.

Our if you prefer, a futbol fanatic. And all it took was one Seattle Sounders game.

Each sport has their strong and weak points. American football was perfected for television, gifted with the natural rhythms of pizza and beer consumption with baked in bathroom breaks. But being at the stadium kills any momentum. Too much down time.

Baseball is a lazy, sun-drenched affair. It's a slow, methodical game. Paying attention is not required - a day spend in the sun is a good day regardless of the quality of baseball. The more you delve into it's intricacies the more the game gives back.

Basketball is crack on a court. Blink and you might miss an incredible feat - the pinnacle of human athletic ability played out in less than a second. It can be a beautifully frustrating experience.

Back to soccer. I've been following off-and-on since World Cup 2010. Checking scores online, watching recommend highlight goals from Twitter friends. TV soccer is okay, but trying to follow all the action on such a large field can be tough.

Smash cut to last Saturday night. A good friend recruits me as the fourth man to attend the first Sounders game of the new MLS season. Oh my god.

It's like 40,000 people share a heartbeat for 90 minutes. In other sports you wait around for things to happen. In soccer there's a buzz running underneath the action at all times. It ebbs and flows like a ocean wave. You can feel a goal coming before it even happens.

The home team has possession, and the energy spikes.

Clean pass to the wing. Rumble rumbleeeeee. Back tap pass to the centerback. SHOOOOSH. He clears it to the corner as the striker streaks down the right side. OOOOOHHSHSHSHSHSHIT.

Striker gets off a shot! It hits the post! The ball is live in front of the goal!


The defense clears the ball.


I'm spent. A full 15 seconds of the hair not only standing up on the back of my neck, but trying to make an escape from my body. Nothing else in sport like it.

A soccer fan is born.

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