Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seeds of my obsession

I'm not going to say "here is where it all began," because my mom wouldn't have taken 12-year-old me to the OAKLAND STOMPERS v. LOS ANGELES AZTECS match if I hadn't already been a soccer fanatic.
I will say the May 10, 1978 match at the Oakland Coliseum (attendance: 8,771 other fanatics and my mom, God bless her) was the moment that probably cemented ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL as the sport I regard the highest.
I'm afraid remembered details are scant. The Aztecs won, 2-1, on a NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE rule adaption called the "penalty shootout." I can't recall George Best playing for Los Angeles but I know the center of attention in Oakland was the presence of SHEP MESSING in goal.
Goalkeeper Messing was one of the first American soccer players with anything approaching a national profile -- he played for the national team and appeared in magazine advertisements and television commercials.
The remainder of the players were that curious NASL mix of unknown Americans, aging Brits and talented Yugoslavs.
I didn't care. This match was the first I watched live, in person. This match helped launch an obsession.


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