Club vs. Country, sort of

Ever since the MLS schedule was released for the 2009 season, I have been looking forward to this weekend. I know it’s been said here, there, and everywhere that DC United isn’t supposed to be that good this year, and that’s fine. And I know that Sunday’s result vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy still gnaws away at United fans who feel United would have gotten away with three points had it not been for that meddling referee.

But while United hosts the Chicago Fire at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in the home opener, the United States will play El Salvador in a World Cup qualifier at 9 p.m.

I was at the match vs. Mexico last month in Columbus. Even though it was the first of 10 matches in this round, it is a memory that right up there with attending a game of the Stanley Cup finals for me in terms of favorite sporting events I’ve been to. Between the atmosphere, the weather, and of course, the result, that US win is quite a memorable one for me.

And it got me really hyped for the rest of qualifying. I had to know when the next game was, had to know if I could get to the next home match (which I can’t, unfortunately, but I’m still holding out hope for the game in Chicago in June), all that.

And of course, Saturday’s match vs. El Salvador starts while the United home opener that I’ve had circled on my calendar for weeks is still going on.

I’m not complaining that MLS is playing on a FIFA date or anything like that. You can have your own opinions on all that and it’s fine. I’m not even tempted to go off on it. It’s fine.

And it’s perhaps a great sign that several years ago, it was a chore to even find one game to watch anywhere, from anywhere, and now we regularly have conflicts about what game we’d like to see between MLS, internationals, the Premier League, etc.

It’s just a conflict that tugs at the heart. There’s a small part of me that would rather hang out at home, or at a bar somewhere, and watch the US. I know it’s only the second game of qualifying. I’m sure the US is going to qualify. And I know the US can recover and still qualify if it all goes wrong Saturday night.

And yes, I know I could just record it and watch it later. But that just has never worked for me. Besides, I’m going to be at a soccer game. Someone is going to be following the score on their phone or some such thing, and I will hear it. And that’s OK, I think I’d rather know. I’m not one of those folks that surfs BigSoccer and then complains when the score of a game I recorded 24 days ago shows up in a thread about lugnuts.

The complex I have in being a Cubs fan tells me that if I don’t watch the US game, and they lose, it’s going to somehow be because I didn’t watch. This isn’t true, of course, but hey, I’m superstitious. And, well, being a Cubs fan, I’m used to my team not winning.

But that’s a risk I’ll have to take. I’m going to the United game Saturday and hopefully the home team can pull out a good result.

If you see me there, feel free to tell me the US score. Just make sure and get it right.

PS: I’m not staying up for the F1 race.

5 thoughts on “Club vs. Country, sort of

  1. Aaron,

    What do you consider the most exciting part of the US National Team right now?

    It’s taken me a long time to get back into the National Team after their performance in Germany. The Olympics got me a little excited, but there’s still a bit of me that is like, “eh” about the National Team… as if they haven’t changed enough since 2006 to give me something to get excited about.

    I almost felt the same about United this season, but injuries to Fred and Quaranta, and the durability (or lack there of) of Gomez and Moreno allowed for several “rookies” to bring fresh spark to United that I haven’t seen since Josh Gros’ first season.

    With this thought in mind, I think that if we got to see more of Altidore, Adu, Bradley, Parkhurst, and Wynne I think I would be more excited about the National Team. Because, it’s like you’ve said. The team will qualify regardless of the results in San Salvador.

  2. I am not sure if a qualifier at El Salvador, a very hostile venue, is the best place to start the young guys en masse, but now I feel like watching the USA is an oddly comforting experience. Sure it’s not always the most scintillating action, but the US plays solid defense, finds timely scoring, and doesn’t make a lot of the kind of hideous errors that can really doom a team during a qualifying run.

    Also, I have been very upfront about my loyalty to Bob Bradley. I think he is precisely the kind of coach that we need more of in this country. He’s extremely smart, extremely savvy, and more than happy to stay out of the spotlight and let the play of the field speak for itself.

    I don’t have that level of confidence in anything DC United-related right now – not even close.

  3. I’m with you on the lack of confidence in everything DC United-related right now. And given Kevin Payne’s answer to the question, “What do you think of DC United’s outlook this season?” I don’t think I’ll have that confidence all season.

    Should be exciting!!

    I wouldn’t expect to see all the youth play at once, but getting Parkhurst or Wynne on the field and Altidore or Adu out there for some extended period of time would be nice.

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