I grew up in a house full of baseball players so how did I ever come to love soccer? Much of my time was spent watching my two younger brothers, who were excellent baseball players, practice pitching, catching or hitting baseballs. I tried to play softball but due to my lack of speed, I spent a lot of time on the bench. So, you might be wondering how I became such a die-hard soccer fan.
When my two sons were trying to find what sport they wanted to play, we tried football, baseball, swimming, and tennis. Although my boys were good baseball players, they didn’t seem to find it exciting. My last ditch effort was to explore the possibility of playing soccer which I knew nothing about at the time. I went to our local YMCA and signed them up for soccer. A couple of weeks later the YMCA called to let me know that my boys were assigned a team but that my older son’s team did not have a coach and asked if I would be interested in coaching the team. With no knowledge of the game and its rules, I was a bit apprehensive to accept the coaching position. However, after a short period of contemplation, I felt it couldn’t be that difficult to learn, so I accepted the position and headed straight to the bookstore and purchased “Coaching Soccer for Dummies.”
I begged the other parents to help me but to no avail. No one came to the rescue! I did my best to guide the players through the season and this is where my love for soccer began.
Over the years I watched my boys play recreational, select, as well as high school soccer. As they grew up playing the sport, I continued to appreciate the sport. I went to every one of their games and when the season would end I was always looking forward to the next season. Occasionally, I would watch a few games on television but never had I attended a professional soccer match.
Unlike American football, soccer is a sport played all over the world. According to the US Youth Soccer organization, soccer is growing, as there are over 5,000 youth soccer clubs with over 3 million players across the United States. Even with soccer’s incredible growth and popularity over the past 20 years, it is still struggling to surpass the long-held favorites in the crowded U.S. sports landscape.
After years of watching my boys play soccer, I told my husband that I would like to go to a professional soccer match sometime in the future. During our trip to Seattle, he surprised me with tickets to see the Seattle Sounders FC play Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field. This game brought over 46,000 roaring fans cheering for their home team. To be in the stadium among these fans was an absolute rush of excitement.
The game started at 7:00 pm and the temperature was around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We took a taxi from our Bed and Breakfast to CenturyLink Stadium. We asked the driver to drop us off a couple of streets from the stadium as we wanted to walk and enjoy the pregame cheers happening in the local bars along the way. The fans were dressed in Seattle Sounders team colors, lime green and white, as they made their way to the stadium entrance. I’ve always enjoyed the pre-game atmosphere as everyone is excited and eager to start cheering for their favorite team.
My husband bought the best seats in the house! We sat on the 40-yard line and very close to the field. I felt like we were so close to the field I could touch the players. This being my first professional soccer game, I was in awe over all the people and energy that filled the stadium. It looked like the fans had filled every seat in the stadium.
My husband has been playing soccer since he was a young boy. As an adult, he became a certified referee. He has refereed games for over 31 years. Over the years some of his fellow referees have gone on to become National, International and subsequently FIFA referees. Tonight, he noticed that one of his good friends, Jair Marrufo, was the center referee for this match. He tried to get his attention but Jair was focused on the game. This was a bit of a surprise and he was happy to see his friend in action.
In their fourth season of Major League Soccer, the Seattle Sounders played a tight game with sixteen shots on goal, committing only three fouls while the goalkeeper made four incredible saves. Sporting Kansas City seemed to be equal in quality of plays with fourteen shots on goal, committing eighteen fouls and their goalkeeper making nine wonderful saves. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
The Sounders enjoy the support of their very passionate fans as the games are always sold out. As we walked out of the stadium, we decided to visit an area where many of the local pubs were located. The fans were inside still savoring the intensity of the match while enjoying a cold beverage. This was such a fun experience and I look forward to attending another professional soccer match soon.