While getting ready for the Manchester City – Club America tilt at NRG Stadium I couldn't help but draw comparisons between America's most popular sport and the world's.
NRG Stadium's history with soccer is a long one. I remember going to a USA vs Mexico 'Friendly' back in 2003.
Folks, a Friendly is what they call an exhibition game in Soccer. You could almost call an NFL Preseason game a 'Friendly' but people would be confused. Plus, football doesn't feel friendly.
Another thing that's different about soccer, or fútbol, is that sportscasters and fans grammatically treat singular team names as a plural.
For instance, it's "Manchester City ARE playing" not IS playing. I would never say "Houston ARE playing tonight." In soccer language this is totally acceptable.
Anyway, in the '03 Friendly, Team USA and Mexico played to a 0-0 tie and it was one of the most exciting sports atmospheres I've seen. And I've seen a ton. The crowd was wild. We've seen that match-up again multiple times here in Houston. Plus many others.
I think it's cool how club teams can travel in their off season and play different clubs on foreign soil neutral sites. You just don't get this in football.
Another thing that soccer fans get is the ability to root for so many different things. Your team is part of a league but might actually participate in yet another league, like the Champions league. Plus, you possibly have other cups and mini championships along the way throughout the season. Then you have your national team to pull for. There are a lot of opportunities to enjoy your team and favorite players.
The NFL counter to this is that every game is huge, no matter what. Even in the tough seasons, I remember the wins like they're bowl games. I enjoyed the victory over the Titans immensely, last year. And the triumph over the Chargers was so memorable. These special Sundays will always stand out in my mind as one-offs that I greatly appreciated.
It's like life – the joy is in the journey. And if the only thing that could possibly satisfy people was a championship then there would be miles of empty seats all over the world in all sports.
But we go, watch and ride the waves of wins and losses because we care, we enjoy and we want to be there when it happens.