Welcome to the first installment of the blog for Goal.com. Since this is my first, I guess you can't technically be loyal readers just yet, but considering you have read this far, I'm just going to consider that a win for the sake of my writing confidence. So thank you!
For those who don't have the slightest clue who I am (which is probably pretty much all of you, which is sad because you are supposed to be my loyal readers... oh well, I digress), I am a midfielder for the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.
I'm currently embarking on my eighth season as a professional athlete, which is already an incredible personal accomplishment because if you asked my seventh grade gym teacher, I shouldn't have been allowed to participate in gym class dodgeball because I was too small. Well, HA! Joke's on him, look at me now. OK, I admit that's actually pretty rich of me to say because if you saw me on the side of the road, you would probably mistake me for a used car salesman, not a high-level athlete. But no matter, I followed my dream and it came true. How many people can say that and mean it? I certainly do.
This is my third season with the Red Bulls after five sun-burned years with FC Dallas and 37 minutes with D.C. United (OK, it was more like six months but it certainly felt like the former after being in Longhorn country so long).
The start of the season came upon us incredibly fast this year because of a shortened preseason and a more congested schedule, but ask anyone involved in MLS and they will tell you the same thing: the schedule is a great sign of continuing progress for our fast-growing league.
There are a lot of improvements with the Red Bulls as well. With a new boss at the helm in Mike Petke and a roster makeover that would make George Steinbrenner proud (additions of Juninho, half of FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake - 2010 versions), it understandably took us a little bit longer to get going than many other teams around the league.
We finally got our first win of the season this past weekend (five games in) against our big rivals from down the road, the Philadelphia Union. Other than it being our first win of the young season, the other big news to come from the game was: one, Thierry Henry is still really, really good. And two, I scored a goal!!!!!
I say that with incredible excitement because me scoring a goal happens about as often as a lunar eclipse, so you understand my joy. Add in the fact that it was our first win with Mike leading us, in front of our wonderful home crowd, and that made for a pretty special first victory of the season. The feeling in the locker room after the game was a mixture of excitement, relief, and quiet confidence. We know we are a good team and hopefully getting that first win of the season off our chest will spur us on to a nice run going into the brutal summer months.
Playing for the Red Bulls certainly has its perks, and one of them is the fact that we are in very close proximity to one of the greatest cities in the world. I'm talking about The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, The City Of Dreams, The Concrete Jungle, none other than... Newark, N.J. OK fine, I don't think that's what they call Newark but they certainly would if New York City didn't steal all those nicknames first.
In a somewhat random move, I decided last summer to throw all inhibitions to the wind and take my talents across the Hudson to New York City and I haven't looked back since. I love everything about living here. If you can't find something fun to do on a daily basis in a city like this, you should probably just retire from living in populated areas and become a farmer or something. Just the other day on our team's day off, Heath Pearce, Connor Lade and I decided to see what type of trouble we could get into.
In the span of about five hours, we had a ping pong tournament at Spin NYC in the Flatiron district, a shuffleboard tournament at Fat Cat in West Village, snacked at a local taco truck off Seventh Ave, and finished off with dinner and bingo (yes, bingo) at Tortilla Flats near the Meatpacking district. All in a day's work!
All focus and efforts now move on to getting another 'W' this weekend in Chicago. Until next time, loyal readers, take care! And smile every once in a while! Hey, that rhymed.