1. You first started playing out on the street with your friends and cousins.
2. You followed soccer on Univision, Telemundo, and the occasional World Cup and MLS game on ABC.
Americans didn’t really care about soccer back in the day. They still don’t but whatever. Their loss.
3. Your parents signed you up to this league:
A youth league that required every kid to play at least 15 minutes, even if they couldn’t kick a ball to save their life.
4. You rarely liked your uniform.
Worst uniforms ever. Seriously. EVAR.
5. You rarely liked your team name.
“Our team name is… BLUE THUNDER!” SMDH!
6. Everybody always wanted the same number.
2, 5, 10, 13, 23. Always wanted them, but never got them because some kid on the team had some pull. Screw that kid.
7. When you were forced to walk in line to high-five the other team for the sake of “sportsmanship.”
Absolutely no one cared about sportsmanship. Those high fives were meaningless. If anything, you probably hated everyone on the other team.
9. But as you got older, and signed up to the more competitive Club teams, those perks went away and that made you sad.
“You bring your own goddamn oranges!” – Coach.
10. You always felt the need to tape up your cleats, even though it was sometimes completely unnecessary.
If the pros are doing it, I HAVE TO DO IT.
11. When the referees always asked you to knock on your shin guards and lift up your cleats before a game.
“Yes, ref. You caught me. I have razor blades for cleats. WHATCHUGONNADO BOUT IT?”
12. YOUR SHIN-GUARDS ALWAYS REEKED LIKE A MOFO.
LIKE. A. MOFO.
13. You never wanted to be on the practice team that had to wear bibs.
Because your coach never actually washed them, even though they were drenched in sweat for the last six months.
14. After a long, night practice, you could see steam coming out of your head.
It was the closest thing to looking like a Super Saiyan.
15. You and your family drove long distances to play games in cities you didn’t even know existed.
“Lancaster? WTF is Lancaster?”
16. Walking around from class to class with your soccer bag that had your name, player number and team logo on it was kinda cool.
“Yeah. I play soccer. And that makes me cooler than you.”
17. But your soccer bag ALWAYS smelled horrendous. It didn’t matter how much Febreeze you sprayed on it, the stench never went away.
18. When varsity training commenced, you didn’t touch a ball for at least two weeks. It was all about that conditioning.
Suicides, VO2s, sprinting, laps, walking as a team, jogging as a team, sprinting as a team, you name it. It sucked.
19. The beach was not a vacation spot, but rather a location for some brutal conditioning.
For those who didn’t grow up on the beach, consider yourself lucky.
20. The horrible feeling you get when your team was running sprints and you were the only one lagging behind.
The horror… the horror….
22. Mini goal posts.
If you didn’t have these, backpacks and sweaters could also work as goal posts.
23. You gauged other people’s soccer skill by how well they juggled.
“This guy can only juggle to ten. That must mean he’s the worst player ever.”
24. You felt LIKE A BOSS when you could bust this move out on the field:
And you played it off real cool, even though inside you’re genuinely shocked that you managed to pull it off.
25. And you felt deeply ashamed if you let the ball go between your legs:
The dreaded nutmeg, or “El Túnel.” The key to breaking a soccer player’s spirit.
26. No matter how bad it hurts, blasting a ball straight into someone else’s balls will ALWAYS BE FUNNY.
The one injury that will always cause people to chuckle.
27. SCREAMING. COACHES.
28. SCREAMING. GOALKEEPERS.
“IF I TELL YOU TO COVER THAT SON OF A BITCH, YOU COVER THAT SON OF A BITCH!” –10-year-old goalkeeper.
29. SCREAMING. PARENTS (the worst of them all).
31. The painful experience of ice-cold foot therapy after an injury.
One minute in ice water, one minute in hot water. FEEL THE BURN.