I watch a lot of soccer. Used to attend a lot of matches, until MLS moved my team to Houston. I thought I wasn’t emotional about it … well, that’s not true, of course it isn’t, but there was nothing I could do, and it’s not like the Houston club wouldn’t be on my TV on a regular basis.
Except, as I expected, I never bothered to tune in. Because every week I’d have a couple of dozen matches minimum to choose from, and without a rooting interest, MLS wasn’t particularly interesting. Given a choice between Manchester United, Werder Bremen, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and the Houston Dynamo, the Dynamo were going to lose out every time. Put it another way: I was choosing between Wayne Rooney, Miroslav Klose, Ronaldinho, Diego, and Dwayne DeRosario. I realize most of you don’t know any of those names, so you’ll have to take my word for it: the first four are better than the last guy on the list, and the last guy on the list is the best player on San Jose/Houston.
As luck would have it, the last few of weeks have featured highly-anticipated matches between longtime rivals, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, Boca Juniors vs. River Plate, and Milan vs. Inter Milan, to name three. So I was focused on those games, and wasn’t paying much attention to the MLS playoffs, going on right now.
But this evening, I decided to watch Houston host Chivas USA. Of the eleven players who took the field for Houston at the start of the match, nine had played for San Jose last season. The coaching staff was the same, and most of the players on the bench were also former Quakes. I knew these guys very well … we used to sit in the fifth row, you get to know the players when you’re that close.
In a hard-fought, thrilling match, Houston won two minutes into extra time on a goal by Brian Ching, longtime stalwart for San Jose. They advance to the Western Conference finals.
And I wanted to cry. This wasn’t the first time I wanted to cry over a Brian Ching goal, but the reason was a lot different this time around. In the past, they were tears of joy. Now, I just feel like a jilted lover, watching his ex go out with the best-looking guy in town. He’s treating her right, he’s taking her to all the right places, she’s as happy as can be … and I’m on the outside looking in.