I was goaded into going to a soccer game Friday night, and am glad I did. Diego, whom I did not meet until Friday, had sent me several emails the last few months, each interesting and funny.
Most of the time when somebody wants me to write about something the email they send goes like this: If you don’t show up you’re a coward and everybody will know.
This means that if I do show up, I’m a moron, so I don’t.
Diego subtly shamed me into attending my first soccer game in at least a decade.
The Charlotte Eagles, the defending United Soccer Leagues Second Division champions, played Cincinnati at Waddell High. The weather was great and the crowd enthusiastic, with lots of kids wearing soccer jerseys and filling up open space with pick-up soccer games of their own.
I recognized a guy I last saw at a minor league soccer game at Memorial Stadium in the early 1980s. Soccer must be like boxing; every time a jab is thrown, the same 400 fans show up. Yet there were more than 1,000 soccer fans at Waddell.
The final score was 1-0. The final score is always 1-0. But it was a cool 1-0. Midfielder Sam Casey kicked the ball to Jacob Scoggins on a fast break, or breakaway or whatever you want to call it.
Running full-speed, Scoggins beat the goalkeeper from about 10 yards. There’s probably a technical term, but to me it looked as if he scored with, like I said, a cool kick.
The atmosphere reminded me of minor-league baseball, all loose, upbeat and unpretentious, with everybody having a good time.
I told Diego I would be back, and I will.