Today is Thanksgiving. Most of the MASL Nation will be spending time with family and friends, watching American football, and eating until they fall asleep. As I sit here, I’m thinking of what I’m thankful for from a soccer perspective this year. I’m thankful for:
-Being able to still watch my favorite team. Yeah, the drive is a little longer, and I now have to pay for my season tickets again, but it’s well worth both of those things. Over the last seven years, I have been able to stand by this team, and watch them grow. So many thank yous need to be said. Tommy Tanner, for being an amazing coach, and now general manager. To Ryan Hall, thank you for blocking shot after shot during your time in Syracuse, and now guiding this Utica City FC team towards a championship. Robert Esche, thank you for giving this team a chance. The scrimmage you saw last Sunday is just the tip of the iceberg. This season will be memorable, mark my words. To all of the players I’ve met, whether they were on Syracuse or not, past and present, thank you for being like family. Some of you have watched my kids grow up, some of you are just meeting them. On game days, their excitement in watching you play is contagious. A wave or a hello makes their day, their week. And I know this also happens throughout the league as well.
-The Rochester Lancers coming back. Barring some sort of miracle, my wish did not come true this season. When I heard the Lancers were coming back, my first thought was, “Why not have a scrimmage between Utica and Rochester?” This would renew the I-90 rivalry to a certain extent. Jake Schindler vs. his old team; the return of the Mohican Warrior, Elliot Fauske. My last memory of Rochester was the mini game in the Eastern Division playoffs. Syracuse lost 3-2 (multi-point scoring), and Doug Miller, his players, and his fans, took a selfie right there on our home turf. It’s a picture that will forever be etched in my mind. To have a game between these two teams again someday will be incredible, and may help me get rid of that memory!
-YouTube. Yes, I am thankful for YouTube. Being able to watch games on demand from the last few seasons, keeps me excited for the season to come. And it’s not just MASL games, but I’ve been watching old NPSL and MISL games from the ’80s and ’90s. Watching greats like Hector Marinaro, Otto Orf, and Juli Veee, to name a few, heightens my love for the sport.
-This blog. If you had told me seven years ago that I would be writing for my favorite team, and interviewing some of my favorite players, I would have told you that you were crazy. I was just a fan at the time. As the years progressed, I wanted this team to thrive, but in a city where most of the sports stories come from Syracuse University, this would have been a tough task. Eventually, a change needed to be made. I was proud to be writing about the Syracuse Silver Knights, and now I am very proud to be writing about Utica City FC. This blog is a way for me to show my love of the sport, and to get the word out. If one person reads this article and goes to one of the games, I consider that to be a success. And I hope if you’re reading this article, you’ll go out and support your local team, whether it’s in Utica, or Baltimore, Mississauga, or Monterrey.
-MASL Nation, I’m thankful for you. Your passion for the game knows no bounds. I’ve been to arenas across the country, and I see and hear the appreciation you have for your team, whether in victory or in defeat. And I thank you for taking the time to read our articles, or watch the videos we do. I’m sure my colleagues at Turf and Boards would say the same thing. We appreciate your support.
Happy Thanksgiving, MASL Nation!