Most of the teams I root for are routinely also-rans. The Orioles had a nice season in 2012 but had been lousy for nearly two decades prior to that. The Rangers have one Stanley Cup in my 50+ years as a fan. The Texans have improved but are still not at an 'elite' level. My Houston Cougars have more 'downs' than 'ups' in all sports. And so on.
But that's not true of my favorite soccer club, Manchester United. I know that the are sort of the "Yankees" of the Premier League and are hated as much by opposing teams' fans as the Yankees are, for much the same reasons. But that's OK by me.
I've been a soccer fan since the days of the 'Game of the Week' that ran on US television in the mid-60s. There was also occasional soccer shown on ABC's Wide World of Sport back them. Somewhere along the line I picked Man U as 'my' team. I'm not sure why but when they started going by the Red Devils moniker I became a true fan.
On Tuesday night Real Madrid comes calling at Old Trafford in the second of the home and home with Man U this year. They played to a 1-1 draw a few weeks ago in what has to be considered an upset 'win' for my team. We'll see how this one goes. I don't pretend to understand all the why's and wherefores of European soccer. These clubs seem to play in multiple leagues (or at least for multiple titles) at the same time. I can't follow all of it. I concentrate on the English Premier League mostly.
I was lucky enough to see Man U play against the MLS All Stars in Houston in 2010. It was really a great night as I figure that it will be my only shot at ever seeing the Red Devils live and in person. I took my wife and sons and we loved the atmosphere of 70,000+ passionate fans packing Reliant Stadium. While the MLS All Stars had many more fans in attendance there were quite a few Man U supporters around. I was one as was one of my boys while his brother couldn't understand how we could root against our 'homeboys'. Whatever. Man U scored a minute or so into the match and we went nuts.
Although Wayne Rooney didn't play we did see my favorite player, Ryan Giggs and Mexico's Javier Hernandez aka "Chicharito". He was the big draw for many of the local rabid soccer fans and a hell of a lot of female fans. He put on quite a show and when he scored late to put the icing on a 4-1 win that place was electric. It was one of my most memorable events to ever be a part of.
I picked up this Panini team set off eBay because it was cheap and it contained most of the club's current stars. I'm usually not a fan of 'player on a crazy background' cards I really like these because they are probably the only Man U cards I'll ever pick up. Most of the nicer sets seem to be going for more than I want to pay or are sold as boxes which I don't care to buy.
Ryan Giggs is an amazing guy, when he takes the pitch on Tuesday he'll have played in 1000 matches for his 'club and country' as they say. He's been a consistent high quality star for many years. I see him as a Cal Ripken type. He's had his moments as the EPL's best player but mostly he's been one of the most steady.
It's Chicarito! Chicks dig this guy. And there is no more attractive group of fans than female soccer fans in Houston. Trust me on this.
Wayne Rooney. I love watching him play. Not so crazy about him otherwise.
Nani. Another one name player. This is some sort of insert card I guess. The set is supposed to be a game that you can play. Beats me. I just thought the cards were fun.
Go Man U.
Who's that team they call United?,
Who's that team they all adore?
They're the boys in red and white
And they play with all their might,
And they're out to show the world how they can score!
So bring on Sunderland and Arsenal,
Bring on Spaniards by the score,
Barcelona, Real Madrid,
They may make a gallant bid,
But they'll only find the reason why we roar.