Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Toll of Being a Fan

I woke up this morning after a fitful night of sleep. I dreamt that the New England Revolution had lost the MLS Cup final, and their coach, Steve Nicol, was asking me what happened. Apparently, I had somehow made my way to the pitch, and (mis)guided the team to a terrible loss. I woke up agitated, and upset.

The game didn't start until 3:30PM, and throughout the day (a rainy day here in New England), the Sunday sports focus was on the Jets/Patriots game (which I didn't watch). The MLS Cup, the championship of American soccer, was a footnote. It felt like I was the only one who had access to some important secret.

The game started lopsided. The Houston Dynamo took shot after shot on the New England Revolution goal. New England looked ineffective. But somehow, after the twentieth minute, the Revs began to pass better. They started to look good. The Revs began to carry the play. I started to get hopeful. At the half, the game scoreless, I was feeling somewhat confident about us scoring. But alas, the second half was scoreless too. Both teams had chances; both teams began to falter to fatigue.

The MLS has a thirty minute "non-golden goal" overtime. By now it's supper time, and I had a fitful dinner while watching the match. I had to break away to clear the table, and help Mia get ready for bed. When I got back to the game, both teams had scored (Taylor Twellman for the Revs, Brian Ching for the Dynamo), but the match was headed into the penalty kick phase. If I had ulcers, they would have started acting up then.

Ultimately, the Revolution lost. Our goalie, Matt Reis, made a save, but we missed twice. The announcers said to give New England credit, but I was a flustered sore loser. I wanted to cry. I didn't want credit. I wanted an MLS Cup victory.

It takes a toll when your team is almost good enough. Climbing the mountain is hard every year, especially when you don't make it all the way to top. I know I'll be able to get past this game, but right now my heart is still heavy; I'm still filled with a mild despair. But I know that each of these championship losses is going to make that first championship taste that much sweeter.

Congratulations, Dynamo! Go Revs!

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