A simple one person clap is nothing much to gawk at. But when twenty thousand people clap in unity, it can feel like the earth is shaking all around you.
Flares are a good thing when it comes to soccer. And they give me goosebumps.
In MLS that yellow card will cost you $100 bucks. Comes right out of your paycheck.
Get a red card? $250 - 500+. Comes out of YOUR paycheck, not the teams. Let me remind you that most red cards are for stupid double yellows or saving a ball on the goal line for your team with a handball. That is sacrifice. Next time you screw up at the office try getting fined $500 dollars because you cost the organization a result.
When you are the first one up in a drill and you have no idea what the coach said:
It's a little hairy with the Google translation from Swedish to English, but it's a fun read.
One of the hardest things to do as a professional soccer player is re-watch/breakdown a game you played in on video. You see every missed touch, and every mistake and every missed opportunity. The coaches will berate you or praise you depending on your performance. What goes on in those team video sessions are some of the best and worst moments of being a pro, like re-watching a thrilling goal, comeback or exceptional moment from a teammate. But more times than not it's the hard part of learning from mistakes and finding areas to improve as a player and team.
Often in a game, when you think you were running back or defending the right way you get exposed on the tape and chastised for a lack of commitment to the team. Let alone if you are stupid enough to cost your team a goal. It feels like everyone turns, points a finger at you, while simultaneously the lights dim in the room and a shiny spotlight lands on your forehead.
Countless times on the pitch I would make an extra effort just to make sure when the video session came around I could validate my hard work and commitment to the team. However, mistakes will be made, fingers pointed and lessons learned.
During my second year in the MLS a teammate (to remain nameless) accused me in a video session of not winning what I considered to be a 50/50 ball in midfield that led to a goal where he (a defender) got burned and our opponent scored. I wanted to jump across the room and two foot him in the neck right there. It felt like a personal attack on me. But in all honesty, I could have done more and I had left him out to dry. I knew I should have done more for the team even if I hated the accusation that I was the problem. The message was received loud and clear even if I took it way too personally.
The only forgiveness was the promise of a rapidly approaching game and another chance to prove your worth to your coaches, teammates and club. That next game, you better believe I wasn't going to lose a 50/50 challenge. I would have rather walked off the field with an opponents leg stuck in my cleat than get a finger pointed at me for being the problem. It was a tough lesson to learn but one that I needed to hear and helped me become a better pro and teammate.
And by party I mean play soccer.
Seeing how no one knows who the hell I am, I like to talk soccer with people who think they know EVERYTHING about the game. I play coy for a while and sometimes don't ever tell them that I played in MLS. But if they start getting a little, how should I say this, annoying, then I lay down the hammer on them and put them in their place.
Just the other day I had a guy tell me about how Cristiano Ronaldo was better than Messi. I was happy to hear his argument and never intended on letting him know I used to be a pro player. But then he ventured into MLS. Talking about how he could have played goalie and how the league isn't all that great. Boy, was he surprised when I laid down the law on how he doesn't know shit about f#ck just because he is a kick ass goalie in some crap indoor over 35 men's league.
Often times a player's worst enemy is living between his own two ears.
You know you've played a soccer for twenty years when you start calling the scars on your body zippers and not scars.
Best of luck to all the players in the 2013 MLS season. Today marks the start of a long road that every team, player and fan hopes will end with the lifting of a trophy in November. 19 hopeful teams begin their journey today but only 1 can raise that cup. And I can guarantee you, every player thinks it is going to be them. Here is to 2013 and the last team standing.... Good luck.
- Just because those new cleats are 1.23 ounces lighter than the ones you previously wore does not mean you will be any faster. Trust me. I've been testing this theory for years unsuccessfully. Speed is a gift not a color of cleat.
- On that note, just because you have the newest $300 cleat with the purple laces and glow in the dark neon colors does not mean you are a good player. It probably means you suck.
- Every MLS preseason I would spend the first few weeks building up my calluses and enduring the pain of blisters. During my last pre-season I got 26 blisters.
- When your coach says "You won't need your shin-guards today."
- Live in a hotel for 4-8 weeks.
- The phrase "on the line"
- Pool workouts
- Watching a TV show series is the highlight of your day
- Forced weight lifting sessions that stop as soon as the season starts
- Ice tubs
- Ice tubs
- Ice tubs
- Showing up at a restaurant with 40 people
- Prank warfare
- Ice bags
- Rental vans
- Finding out if you are going to have a job the next year or not
- Live to sleep. Sleep to live.
- Fitness tests
Just because you can juggle a soccer ball like Cristiano Ronaldo, does NOT mean you can play this game like him.
I remember playing with Robbie Rogers when we were in high school. Both of us were practicing with the Blue Stars in Orange County, a PDL soccer team. The team practiced at UC Irvine and many top players from all over Southern California came out to test their skills and work on their game. Two notable players in particular.
One was this guy Jay Göppingen. I knew this guy. But it wasn't some guy named Jay it was Jurgen Klinsmann. The legendary German striker and current US Men's national team coach. After one practice I was in on the 'secret.' The secret that Klinsmann was still playing but under a secret alias named Jay. And let me tell you, he was still one hell of a player. I remember him scoring a half volley from 20 meters sending the ball into the top corner without even celebrating. It was as if he had done it a thousand times. I know if I had scored that goal I might have just taken my boots off and walked home, satisfied with producing a moment like that. But it was like breathing to that guy. He was intense, loud, and freaking good.
There was a player that Jurgen always gave special attention to in training. This kid who was two years younger than me named Robbie. Robbie was fast, quick, left footed and could score from seemingly any angle. He was also 14 or 15. I was the second youngest at 17. The rest of the guys were college players or former professionals. A real quality squad back then. Jurgen immediately took a liking to Robbie and pushed him while giving him little gems of advice during trainings. You could tell Jurgen had a fondess for Robbie back then and saw a great deal of himself in Robbie. It was as if a father was teaching his son the tools of the trade.
And now that Robbie is stepping away from the game after a successful stint in England and many successful years in MLS I wish him the best. I always knew he would turn out to be a great player and go on to do big things. So did Klinsmann.
After you lose an important game to a friend on another team. And you have to tell him how happy you are for him, but you would really rather go vomit.
You might be scared of TPS reports. Professional soccer players are afraid of cones and the phrase 'on the line.'
The closest I've come and will likely ever come to being in a war is the dirt of a football pitch. But I treated every game as though I was on a battlefield with my comrades.