Fans' View

Fans’ View: Hope realized

Photo: Staci Klemmer

Almost two years ago I wrote a post titled “Hope springs eternal” about the need to be optimistic, whether you’re rooting for your kids in youth soccer, or the pros at Philadelphia Union.

Well, it happened. It finally happened. My hope has been realized.

The FC Delco Players Cup took place over Memorial Day weekend. My son’s U-15 team gutted out four wins against strong teams from the NY and the Philly area. On Sunday night we waited: we were tied for points with the team in the opposite bracket. If the finals on Monday were cancelled due to weather, we would lose the tournament on tie breakers (we let in one goal, they didn’t let in any).

On Sunday night the tournament director sent out an email to say the game was on.

First half : About 10 minutes after the start of play, my oldest son son sends in a beautiful cross on to the head of a teammate. 1 – 0, us!

20 minutes in, a little miscommunication from the back line of the other team and its 2 – 0, thanks to an own goal. 30 minutes in, my son goes up to challenge for a ball and comes down in a heap on the turf: he’s not moving. Play continues as our parents are screaming at the ref that a player is down.

Still not moving.

The other team takes a shot on goal, our players are in disarray, ball careens off the post and is cleared by one of our players. Play continues.

Still not moving.

I am on the sidelines screaming at the top of my lungs. The other team’s goalie has run over to the sideline to check on my son and is kneeling next to him. Finally, one of our player commits a foul to get the ref to blow the whistle. Ref waves our coach on. Paul finally rolls over and is holding his middle or his arm, I can’t tell which. Trainer comes out in the golf cart. Paul gets up, limps on to the cart: not a broken arm.

Play continues.

20 minutes into the second half the opposing team scores: 2-1. I should mention at this time that three of the players of the opposing team will be joining our team at the end of this season — including the goalie.

Our team starts to unravel and that old familiar feeling comes over me: We are going to blow it in the last five minutes of the game. How many times have I sat through this as a Union fan? Watching my sons play? By now, I am willing the boys on, praying to every soccer God in heaven that they can hang on. Please God, they haven’t won a tournament in years. They haven’t won that one last game that gives them the division championship.

Please God, let them win.

With a minute left, the inevitable happens. Chaos in the back leads to an own goal. Tie game.

I am ready to weep.

Our boys push forward. With seconds left on the clock, one of the players who my son has played with for years, and was just invited to join the A team, steps up to the top of the box and lets one rip.

And yes, the soccer Gods were smiling – in it went!

And I wept.

For 10 years, my son has played and never brought home hardware. He and his teammates have worked hard, had many coaches, seen new players have come and gone and now, finally, it has all paid off.

The moral to my rambling? Maybe this is our year. Maybe I can start to dream about the the Union reaching the playoffs, an Open Cup trophy, or about a record that has our boys in blue undefeated at home.

What I want to say at the end of this Union season is the same thing I turned and said to my husband after my son’s Memorial Day final: We won. We finally won.

P.S. My son is fine. Sore, but mainly really pissed off that he wasn’t on the pitch when the whistle blew.

5 Comments

  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I love it… excruciating watching your children… and the sweet savor of victory- where only those who win bring home the trophy.
    .
    Hoping our Union do as well soon.

  2. Glad your son was okay. SMH at a referee not stopping a youth game for an injury.

    • My husband (coach and referee) said that because he was down behind the play, the ref was playing advantage. I was as frustrated with our boys who just didn’t kick the ball out!

      • When I reffed youth travel, I always struggled with the idea that “advantage” and the Laws Of The Game should trump the health and safety of a child, even in a Cup game. One of the reasons I let my license lapse.

  3. UnionGoal says:

    Staci,
    Thank you for the post–glad your son is ok and congrats to him and his coaches and teammates.
    Question–as your team is very important, how is his team affected by the birth year change?

    UnionGoal

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