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Section 20: Why I Love Soccer

The MISL match ball.

So, I’m an American, as I think we’ve all realized.  However, I’m a pretty damned passionate soccer fan and have been for some time.

It all started for me back in the St. Louis Checkerdome, nee St. Louis Arena.  I saw Darryl Doran and the Steamers lose to somebody.  Hey I was only 8 years old do you really expect me to remember?  I think it was Wichita, but don’t hold me to that.  I can’t remember for sure if my cousins and I were in, or about to start playing soccer in a youth league.  Again, it’s been a very long time, so you’ll have to forgive me on this.  What I recall for sure is watching Slobo Ilijevski play in goal.  His style was so strange to me at that time.

I remember being amazed at how much he left the goal, and how little he used his hands.  Very few drop kicks or anything, just rolled the ball….I know now that it was largely due to playing indoor and not outdoor.  Now that I think of it, we had to have been playing soccer.  So, my Uncle was taking us to see a live game.

Now let’s fast forward a few years.  In America, most kids play youth soccer and then abandon the sport.  Well, I was no different.  I did watch the Ambush from time to time while working as an usher at the Kiel Center, now Scottrade Center.

Virtua Striker 3 for the Nintendo Gamecube.

So, now the story takes a turn.  I’ve always been a video game guy.  So for some reason, Virtua Striker 3 for the Nintendo Gamecube looked really fun.  It was a Sega video game, and one of their first for a non-Sega console.  As per my wont at the time, I bought the Japanese version and not the North American release.

I don’t really know to this day why I made that purchase.  At the time it wasn’t like I had a whole lot of money to blow and buying the Japanese release made the game even more expensive…so..yeah.  Virtua Striker is an arcade game, not very realistic.  My thought was if real soccer was like this, it’ d be super popular in the States.  Since Virtua Striker is a World Cup Franchise, I decided to watch the World Cup, especially since I found myself unemployed during it!

The World Cup.

So, this is when the outdoor game really started to make sense to me.  I shouldn’t neglect to mention is was this World Cup that cemented my saying “soccer” and not “football.”  As an Irish commentator explained the origin of the term due to the Rugby and Football Associations etc.

Then I discovered Fox Sports World, now Fox Sports Soccer, and during my period of unemployment, I began watching as much soccer I as I had time for.  I soon realized that I was spending too much time watching soccer and too little time looking for work, so I had to cut back a bit.  In time I settled into watching Arsenal of the English Premier League and the EPL in general.

However, it never really felt like I had my own team.  This is a big part of why I’m so happy to have AC St. Louis.  My wife said to me last night, I never knew you loved soccer so much, and I told her: Well I kind of fell out of it, and never having a team to support, and never having friends who liked it…but now with AC STL, I have my own team, and I’ve made some great friends already, and being the loud mouthed fan that I am….soccer games are my favorite.

Also, I hope my friend Mike doesn’t mind me posting the video he took on his phone of our home opener.  I’ve already used both of mine.

Please also read my St. Louis City musings at The 13 Blog.

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6 Responses

  1. About on par with my little journey. Went to Storm games as a kid. Played as a kid. All that jazz.

    Lost interest over 2 reasons: The kids who played soccer in school were the arrogant, pretty boy douches who I despise and the fact that we not only didn’t have a home club the sport itself received no real coverage in the states.

    Some years ago I began coaching a girls youth team with a friend of mine and learned about the game overseas. More to the point, the fan support.

    Basically, the disease of European hooliganism drew me back to the sport.

    Not that I ever wanted to fight in the name of a sports team, but it was the passion and almost religious love for their clubs I admired. That’s what pulled me in: The never ending support. No fair weather fans. No sitting on your ass for a couple hours and going home. No seeing 1 game a year and that being good enough.

    I got my season tickets. I’ve been to all the Athletica home games so far. It’s been in my blood for a long time now, and with our home clubs, it’s only gotten worse.

    So long as they thrive and provide a club for me to support, I’m truly AC ’til I die.

    • Rock on, Kyle! I felt the exact same way about the dbags in my high school that played soccer too!! Ah, what can you do? I’ll never be one of the pretty people. 😀

  2. Great read! I’ve always been a soccer fan and I would watch EPL here and there over the years when I could find it on TV. Where my interest really took off though, was 2004 when the NHL shutdown for a whole year, I started watching soccer. I mainly watched the German Bundesliga and Werder Bremen that first year but then got into the English Premiership. Not only was I loving soccer, but I realized I wasn’t missing NHL hockey at all. While the EPL is great and I still follow it, three years ago, I decided to give MLS a chance and I found I that, really love the American product just as much as anything else and I have bought the MLS tv package the last couple of years to support our local product. I can’t wait for the day when AC STL moves up to MLS.

    • Thank you! After talking to you about it, and Mike about it, I’ve decided to give the MLS a real chance, but…I’m always in class when the nationally televised games are on, or they’re on FSC, which I no longer have…consequently…Spanish Soccer’s getting more and more attractive. 😀

      I’m really loving finally being a part of the pro culture and I know for sure that one day we’ll be in the MLS and that a few of us will still have our AC Inaugural Season Ticket holder scarves to break out every so often.

  3. I started out playing as a kid from 5 years old. I grew up playing in Collinsville Illinois and played on some pretty decent travel teams up until 5th grade. At that time my family moved out to Carlyle Illinois. The step back in quality of youth soccer out there was devastating. Recreational soccer had only been there for 1 year before I moved. I played all through junior high and into high school. My high school didn’t get a team until my sophomore year. I could have went and played for a local college I was told but fell out of love with soccer due to being on terrible teams(we won 2 games in 3 years). Then a year after being out of high school I found some indoor teams to play on and my love was renewed. Now all I do is watch soccer(mainly because I’m unemployed) and youtube videos of crowds. Liverpool FC has inspired me most in the fan aspect of soccer. I’m glad AC St. Louis has a great following so far and look forward to more of it.

  4. I just couldnt leave your website prior to saying that I genuinely liked the high quality data you provide for your visitors. Would be back usually to check up on new stuff in you post!

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