There are only 559 days left until the start of the next World Cup, but it’s never too late to thinking about soccer.
Actually, it’s almost always too late, or early, for me anyhow. While I adore this game, and every summer try to watch it during major international competitions, I just can’t seem to find much attention to it during college football season. Once November hits, along with my favorite sport basketball, soccer ends up pushed even further into the recesses of my mind.
To the point where I just had to Google “winner MLS 2012” to confirm that the LA Galaxy won a few weeks ago or whenever that game was.
Honestly, I feel guilty. Here I am, caring about soccer and realizing that it’s the second-most popular sport among American 12-24 year olds (only behind the NFL), and yet I can’t manage to cut down my football or basketball watching time during the non-summer.
And so, in an effort to absolve myself, I offer unto you something from the reliquary:
The following was originally published in Sync magazine on June 16, 2010:
Pop quiz, sports fans: Who’s the best soccer player ever? Sure, Pele’s as good an answer as any. Okay, try this one, World Cup watchers: Who’s the finest soccer player the United States has ever produced?
Old heads go with goalkeepers Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel, or midfielder Claudio Reyna, while new school candidates include Tim Howard and Landon Donovan. Yet Saturday in the Americans’ opener against England, it seemed God was tipping his hat to Clint Dempsey. In the first half, the Texan saw his easily catchable 25-meter shot inexplicably roll out of the English goalie’s arms and into the goal, notching the match at what would become the final 1-1 score.
Okay, my soccer-savvy reader, I’ve got one last question: Who’s Arkansas’ best all-time soccer player?
Wow. I had forgotten how horrendous a vinyl record screeching to a halt sounds.
Unfurrow that brow — you’re in the same boat as approximately 99.998% other Arkansans who have no clue what kind of elite soccer talent has played in their own backyard.
So, as this week’s conversation inevitably drifts to South Africa, stun your friends, shock your parents, and blow the minds of your office mates by bringing up some of Arkansas’ more obscure sports legends — who merely play the world’s most popular game.
Caveat: Go ahead and get your teeth grit on. Yes, the two best male players to have played in our state left to complete their high school careers in the Dallas area. But that place is a soccer hotbed, and you can’t blame a brother for wanting to raise his game.
1. Domenic Mediate, 5’9’’ midfielder/forward — Mediate grew up in Southlake, Texas, but as a young teenager moved to Northwest Arkansas, where he played for the Arkansas Comets club team from 1995 to 1998, according to a website of a soccer camp he runs in Springdale. In 1999, before his junior year of high school, Mediate returned to Texas, where he dominated at Southlake Carroll High School before playing at the University of Maryland.