For us 20-something American soccer fans, a love of the beautiful game was entrenched in 1994 when the United States was finally granted the honor of hosting the most prestigious sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup. We flocked to Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl to see some of the best players in the world, many of whom we’d heard about but never seen, display their world class ability. For me it was a round of 16 matchup between Ireland and the Netherlands. That meant legends such as Paul McGrath, Roy Keane, Frank de Boer, and Dennis Bergkamp.
Growing up in the 90s, soccer wasn’t considered by many to be a serious professional sport. While kids played it recreationally, it was considered a children’s game with little consequence. Lucky for me, my father knew the game on a global scale. Though I couldn’t see them, I grew up hearing of teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal and of players such as Eric Cantona and Tony Adams and was given the ability to dream of one day playing at Old Trafford, Highbury, or Wembley Stadium.