I tend to be an emotional person and need to work to avoid both highs and lows in my life. I also tend to let sports results effect my mood inordinately. The last week was a difficult week for me personally and professionally and the results of the soccer teams I follow all went against my desires.
I’ll avoid detailing the personal and professional downers except to say that they’re nothing anyone else doesn’t have to deal with on occasion. I only mention it as it seemed to marry with last week’s soccer results which kept me down for an extended period.
I suppose sporting results, both good and bad, effect every sports fan’s mood to a degree. Those reading this probably tend to be effected more than the average sports fan and more by soccer than other sports, so I imagine that these readers will commiserate with me a bit more than the typical person.
I had serious interest in four soccer results last week. The matches and the results in order of importance to me:
UEFA Europa Cup Final, Fulham 1, Atletico Madrid 2: The Cottagers are the only non-American team I’ve ever supported in any sport. My Fulham fandom began in January, 2004 when Carlos Bocanegra left the Chicago Fire for Craven Cottage. Since then Fulham has always had at least one American on its roster. Fulham has never won a major trophy in its 131 year history and prior to last week had only competed in one other major championship game. Fulham lost 2-0 to West Ham United in the 1975 FA Cup final. Yet they seemed destined to win the Europa Cup this year ever since Clint Dempsey’s special goal advanced Fulham past Juventus in the return leg of the last 16. 131 years without lifting a major trophy is a long time….in any sport. Wait till next year!
Women’s Professional Soccer: Chicago Red Stars 0, Philadelphia Independence 1: I left early. I rarely leave early. But after 72 minutes of this match I could see where this game was going. My WPS team – I’m a partner in the Red Stars - gave up an early goal (again), staggered through the first half and improved to frustrating in the second half. We have an owners meeting tomorrow and we’ll be discussing the usual topics of financial and operational updates, but I imagine the topic of this talented team’s inexplicable poor record will also be on the agenda.
Major League Soccer: Chicago Fire 2, Kansas City Wizards 2: There are two kinds of draws – those that feel like wins….and this one. Brian McBride subbed in for Collins John at the half and scored a few minutes later to give us what seemed to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead. It was the second time this year that the Fire captain started the game on the bench only to score soon after being subbed in. That begs the question that Paul Gardner asked on Monday: When a star forward scores off the bench, is it coaching genius or a sign that the coach should’ve started the forward in the first place? Alas, Fire Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra was caught off balance on the first KC goal and he left a rebound so wide open in the 90th minute that even Kei Kamara couldn’t miss.
FA Cup Final: Chelsea 1, Portsmouth 0: I’m not proud of it, but as sports allegiances go, I’m also a bit of a hater. While I passionately support the Wave, Red Stars, Fire, Fulham and White Sox, I also support whoever’s playing against the Cubs, Bears, Manchester United and…..Chelsea. After winning the Premiership the previous week it was easy to support former Blues coach Avrum Grant and his relegation bound Portsmouth squad in Grant’s revenge match against Chelsea at Wembley in the FA Cup Final. While the FA Cup brings memories of Monty Python’s philosophers football match - Immanuel Kant was a real pissant - this match provided real hope for an upset as the clock ticked away. In fact, Portsmouth had a 56th minute penalty to take the lead, but Kevin-Prince Boateng took it right down the middle (and earlier took Michael Ballack out of the match and the World Cup) and allowed Petr Cech to save. Just three minutes later Didier Drogba’s 59th minute free kick caught David James flatfooted and the post finally yielded for the first time in six chances against Chelsea.
The cumulative virtual effect of these four decisions along with the barbiturate effect of recent real world factors resulted in my morose mood that carried over to mid-week. I wish I could separate these results from the reality of life, but long ago I allowed sports results to be part of my life. The benefit of living life this way is that the victories send me on a high that is memorable and inspiring.