There I was last weekend, nearly about to die with the life I was living [in a good sense]. Allow me to run down what last Thursday-Saturday entailed [soccer style]:
Soccer Practice with my lovely U-8 girls [it’s a recreational league, it’s not like they ran laps or something…]
Sitting in the press box in Columbia, Missouri for the #24 Missouri vs #10 Florida [rankings have changed since]
Sitting the press box in Kansas City, Kansas at Livestrong Sporting Park for the USA vs Canada [scroll down to the USA match article] match [I do not make this stuff up]
Now, aside from gloating that my life rocks! The question of the night translates to this:
“What does it all mean?”
After thinking through my soccer marathon the next day [while curled up in bed refusing to move in fear of actually having to do something], I began to try to find a pattern to discuss about what I had experienced, and that’s when it dawned on me; the patter was the game, soccer was the pattern [sounds like something out of 1984].
Through all three ‘groups’ of the game I was witness to, one theme kept arising…the game is growing. While I love my kids to death, and even their…vocal…dad’s; what really gets me every Saturday morning and Thursday evening is the fact that this massive soccer complex [for us it’s huge], is PACKED with people. Parking is impossible, you’re yelling just to have a conversation, and there are kids everywhere, youth are reffing the game, and parents are guiding young ones into the game [or just yelling at them to ‘take a lap’, that also takes place…].
(Pause: Abby Wambach just scored USA 1-0 Canada)
It was moving to see the roots of what American soccer is taking place. I till remember pulling my parents out of bed at 7:00am in the pouring rain to go play a game against the town down the road. This is where it starts.
Moving past the practice and traveling on the lonely, slightly insane road that is Interstate 70 that stretches across the state [seriously, if you do not do at least 80 mph you will cause an accident, see Germany, we’re learning]. I pulled up the University of Missouri campus Friday night, the wind was blowing strong enough that it actually placed a ‘wind chill’ in the area for the night. In other words, it was cloudy, windy, and freaking cold. Thankfully I was in a press box with a athletic director that doesn’t believe in air conditioning. Understand something about Columbia, Missouri; this university…is…a…football…school. Plain and simple, I don’t agree with it [especially being from Kansas].
(Pause: Abby Wambach puts in another USA 2-0 Canada)
(Pause: Alex Morgan makes it 3 USA 3-0 Canada)
(Pause: Final USA 3-0 Canada)
However, this evening it was about the women’s soccer team. While I was in college we were lucky to pull out two hundred people to a important soccer match, let alone one of those ‘usual’ games. 967 people showed up for the Missouri game. That’s nearly a thousand people on a Friday night in the Midwest [for the internationals: Friday night=high school football night during the fall]. It was loud, obnoxious, and honestly…soccer at its absolute best. The footwork between the two teams was jaw dropping. Florida walked away with the win, but being able to watch these players and think, “How many of them will go the next step? What is the next step? Will they have this support five years in the future?”
Then I got my questions answered; Saturday afternoon, somehow I had managed to drive the two hundred miles back home and went to bed, I drove down to Livestrong Sporting Park, picked up my media pass, and waltzed into the stadium [nearly shaking because I was so nervous/excited]. Sat down, flipped over my media packet, and then I watched. In the clipping, chilling wind of Kansas City [love Midwest weather, it was 90 degrees last week, I’ll let you convert it] I watched the clouds rolling and began to wonder about the crowd. Last time I had watched the USA play it was a few years ago with USA vs Sweden in Nebraska. Understand that, that was before the World Cup, before the fever caught, before the miracle goal, the defeat, the…beginning of something new. The gates opened at LSP about an hour after I got there; I hadn’t paid attention to the crowd for some time, until Hope Solo walked out on the field. That’s when I realized how loud of a night it was going to be. By the time it was said and done, over 16,000 people had filled LSP [perspective: 18,000 is a full house]. Deafening wasn’t quite the right word to describe the insanity of this stadium. I left with high hopes, amazing standards, and a renewed sense of pride for what women’s soccer could offer. Now I just learned that Portland housed over 18,000 for the game tonight vs Canada.
After tonight’s game the USA takes a break prior to qualifying for the ’12 Olympics in London [yes, rejoice all of the Brits reading this]. It was a quick question posed, “What are we going to do with this break?” Says the media.
We’re going to dream.
We’re going to write.
Some of us are going to readjust.
But most importantly, with a growing youth, encourage collegiate players, and a nation slowly starting to support women’s soccer; this much is true…
We’re going to be alright.
P.S. You know you want to hunt me down, it’s ok, just embrace the rage! Find me over at Twitter: @CoachDaugherty