I have the 1978 World Cup in Argentina to thank for my lifetime love affair with soccer.
My Dad, himself a high school football, basketball, and baseball player, watched highlights from Buenos Aires on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and fell absolutely in love with the beauty and spectacle of the game. He shared his newfound passion with us and from that point we became a soccer family.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness the NASL’s glory days, lots of NCAA soccer, overseas games, US Open Cup, amateur, semi-pro, kinda pro, and barely pro leagues in the years before MLS, Olympic soccer, and of course World Cups. My brother and I both played, both of my parents have coached, and I’ve played at nearly every level with one of my best friends since the fourth grade. Soccer has been the one constant in my life.
I was at Orlando City’s first game, a rather pedestrian 3-0 win against now-defunct FC New York. I became a season ticket holder soon after that. This team holds an important place in my heart. Like many Americans, I was content “supporting” teams in faraway leagues and getting into ridiculous arguments about whom we supported, as if we were from opposite sides of Glasgow or something. To me, Orlando City is a real and tangible expression of my love of both soccer and my city. I’m honored to support a team from a place I call home.
In just four seasons, we’ve had the chance to watch two dramatic championship games, great US Open Cup wins against Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City, winning a preseason friendly vs. Newcastle United, and trouncing the Tampa Bay Rowdies on the way to two I-4 derby trophies. Cap that off with two league championships and three regular season championships and you have to wonder, is MLS ready for us?
I’m lucky to enjoy the game with the best “unofficial” supporters group, a group of friends both new and old. (Section 125 forever!) When I’m not in the stands, I am finishing a master’s degree in history at UCF, after doing my undergraduate degree there as well. I work as a graduate teaching assistant, which means I’m reading a lot of freshman essays. This semester I’ve been teaching history to fourth graders as well. That’s been a blast!
My research focuses on the cultural history of post war America. I’m actually writing a thesis on the 1960s counterculture, but that’s a different story. Studying culture and society has given me a chance to understand sports from a perspective different from the ESPN onslaught of box scores, salary negotiations, and hero worship. I hope to bring that angle to my writing for The Mane Land. I root for the underdogs, I never give up on the home team, even when things look bleak, and I’m a sucker for a redemption story.
Right now, I’m working on a number of blog posts covering Orlando and Florida’s soccer history. There is a lot more of it than you would think! I’m also looking forward to covering Orlando City’s culture and the connection between the team and the city. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty to say about what happens on the field as well. I’m looking forward to experiencing and sharing this inaugural MLS season with you. Go City!