Like many Americans of my generation, I fell in love with soccer at age 14 during the 1994 World Cup.
Prior to 1994, I did not even realize that you could play soccer professionally. I figured it was something to do for fun. It was nothing more than a PE activity to do in between American football and basketball seasons. Sure I played it in rec leagues, in middle school, and even in high school, but I never thought much about professional soccer until 1996.
With the arrival of a professional team, located just 45 minutes south of where I grew up, I decided right then and there that I would one day play professional soccer for my local team: the New England Revolution! Nearly 16 years later that dream has not come to fruition, but I digress.
This, writing at the Bent Musket, is the closest I have ever been, or hopefully --for the team's sake-- ever will be, to suiting up for the Revs. However, I have always associated my teenage, young adult, and adult life with that of the Revolution.
As a teenager, much like the young Revolution, I was just trying to figure out who I was, and how I fit in with the more established parts of my family. The Revolution, lest we forget, lost their first two MLS games by an aggregate score of 10-0, they could not grab hold of the Boston --or Providence-- markets, because frankly they did not fit in with the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, or Red Sox. Like many things in my teenage years, I admittedly forgot about them in college. After all, they were my high school crush, and I attended school in the Deep South (aka American football land). Sure I checked up on them via the Internet and when I was home for a holiday, but I had outgrown them --or so I thought.
Young adulthood hit me with my college graduation in 2002. The world was at my finger-tips, or so I was told, just at the dawning of the Revolution Golden Age --or, perhaps, the Silver Age since they could never fully get over the hump. On the heels of the World Cup, I --like most of America-- had a suddenly renewed interest in MLS. After all, this was where the next breed of American superstars was going to come from. My father actually bought me tickets to the 2002 MLS Cup Final in Foxborough. This was the first sporting event I had ever been to at Gillette Stadium. It was also the event where I learned to hate Carlos Ruiz, but I digress once more.
Like the beginning of my young-adulthood, the Revolution just kept coming up short. They would make finals. They would win Open Cups. They would win SuperLiga. But they could never get over that MLS Cup hump. Yet I loved them. I had the disposable income to actually drive to Gillette for most games. In 2007 and 2008 I actually had season tickets. It was, possibly, the best time of my life as well as the apparent pinnacle for the Revolution organization.
In my thirties, where I now sit --still having not suited up for the Revs-- things have not come easy for me, nor have they come easy for the Revolution. I lost my job and became a graduate student. I no longer have disposable income. I am married. I am a father of three. I live far from the team that I associate with my current life. And between Wooden Spoons and Fortgates, between low attendance and lack of media attention, between poor player selection and poor front office management, things have looked equally bleak New England Revolution.
But there is a light. Perhaps it is my eternal optimism about my team that leads me to an eternal optimism about myself. If the Revolution can build around AJ Soares, Matt Reis, Diego Fagundez, Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, Kelyn Rowe, and some as yet named forward they'll be able to win again, and then I --since my life is inexplicably linked to the team-- will get the job of my dream when I graduate in December.
My life coincides too much with the Revolution for it to just be coincidence. So, hopefully the negative situations will start drying up quickly for both of us. Because if the Revolution don't begin to get mended and fixed, my life just might be screwed.