My MLS Opening Day 2018: Football and Fatherhood

My world revolves around my 15-month-old daughter. Her life revolves around her books, mac and cheese (Seriously, mac and cheese is life to her), and any one of her blankets. We also have a common interest in The Beautiful Game.

It’s a typical Saturday morning for the most part. We typically spend the morning hanging out watching Premier League. Today is a bit different, however. Today, Saturday, March 3rd, is Major League Soccer opening day and it presented a unique opportunity to consume 17 straight hours of glorious soccer. Well, at least as glorious as it gets on MLS opening day.

MLS Opening Day 2018

7:00 am – Awakenings

Devyn wakes up every morning at 7:00 am. It doesn’t matter what time she goes to sleep. It’s always 7:00 am. I’m ok with this. I’ve slowly become a morning person myself, and it’s convenient for those early morning kick-off times. Devyn had milk, banana, and some silver dollar pancakes from Trader Joe’s. I had some coffee and a blueberry muffin.

The epic day of footy began with Burnley taking on Everton. Wayne Rooney began the match on the bench for Everton, but it was Burnley with the early hole. However, Burnley would eventually come out on top. Burnley has an opportunity this season to qualify for Europa League. That club hasn’t neem a part of European football in about 50 years. It would be a heck of a story.

10:00 am – Devyn’s Favorite Player

This is where the fun starts.

Devyn attended her first match when she was just seven months old. The game featured Tottenham Hotspur vs. AS Roma. She entertained the entire section. She also dialed into the game for about 20 minutes of the second half. She found Harry Kane to be hysterical.

She apparently took a liking to him. When the 2017-2018 began, she smiled at Kane every time she saw him on TV. It’s obvious Harry Kane is her favorite player.

Before the Spurs took the field vs. Huddersfield Town, Devyn toddled up to me and handed me a book. Just before kick-off, we read “Optical Physics for Babies” by Chris Ferrie. I wish I could relate the book to the Spurs match. I don’t think it had any significance.

Spurs began the match a little sloppy. Luckily their high defensive line was up to the task of keeping David Wagner’s club out of the final third. Despite the lack of sharpness, Harry Kane was able to spring Son Heung-Min for both Spurs tallies. Good players see the field in front of them reasonably well. The great players not only see the field in front of them exceptionally well but also see plays unfold in the periphery. Kane continues to prove that he is the latter.

Devyn only made it to halftime before requesting her first nap of the day by pushing one of our heavy ottomans across the living room, dropping a blanket at my feet and laying down upon it around midway through the first half.

1:00 PM – #MLSisBack

As if she knew the 2018 Major League Soccer season was about to begin, Devyn awoke from her nap. She ate lunch – a turkey and cheese sandwich. To be fair, I missed kickoff of Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew. There were things I needed to do as a dad that I won’t outline here.

Columbus quietly outplayed the reigning MLS champions in the first half.

The Crew continued their strong play and earned a halftime lead after a pair of beautiful field switching passes led to Frederico Higuain being open in front of goal. The second half continued much like the first, and Gyase Zardes opened up his 2018 Crew account. Maybe Toronto should have spent some money on defense?

After the Zardes goal, Devyn was less interested in the match and more interested in her new toy chair. She’s been nearly walking for a couple of weeks -cruising, walking holding on to my fingers, etc. She was trying to figure out how to put her butt in the chair, so

3:00 pm – Gap 1

Devyn loves the cartoon Little Einsteins. Thus, during the gap between the TFC match and the Houston match, I gave Devyn a hit of her favorite animated quartet. My wife suggested that I should do this at halftime of TFC vs. Crew, but that really wouldn’t have fit the gap.

I found out that I was not the only one doing a footy marathon today. Former Last Word on Soccer writer and my good friend Alec Rivera was also going hardcore today.

4:00 pm – Blood on the Pitch at BBVA Compass Field

Devyn went down for a nap just before the Houston Dynamo opened their season vs. last season’s Cinderella story Atlanta United.

The Dynamo were out for blood and smelled it like so many great whites circling a wounded diver. Atlanta United forgot that playing defense is often as important as their attacking prowess. Houston finished the first half with a 4-0 lead as my daughter rested.

Before my wife went out for the evening (I would also have been going, but we were unable to find a babysitter), she was amazed at my ability to watch soccer all day. She pointed out that there is nothing that she could spend this long watching. “It’s all for the love of the game,” I said.

If she has me committed tomorrow, we all know why.

 6:00 pm – The Only Pre-recorded Match

Some will say this is cheating. On the contrary, I say that it’s proper planning. Sometimes Major League Soccer’s scheduling people drop the ball. An extended gap between matches is not conducive to fanatical soccer consumption on opening day. Instead of watching any number of other things, I was smart enough to DVR the RB Leipzig match. Their opponent, Borussia Dortmund, features Devyn’s other favorite player – American midfielder Christian Pulisic, who did not see the field until the 87′.

Devyn usually eats pretty well, but she is not a fan of red meat – especially ground beef. We tried a cheeseburger again tonight, and that was rejected pretty vehemently. Leipzig went up on BVB as I figured out an alternative.

By the time I had finished making something else, Dortmund had the equalizer. The match ended that way, and Leipzig dropped to 6th in the Bundesliga and temporarily out of European qualification. We’ll see how that develops as the season races to the end.

7:00 pm – MLS Continues

This is the one inevitable overlap. I chose the Philly Union vs. New England Revs for the big screen. At the very least, this would get me to FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake. It didn’t. Apparently, the Union and New England are out to beat modern soccer into submission. I made it 20ish minutes. The last 10 minutes I had it on, Devyn wanted me to read Sesame Street’s Animal Alphabet book to her. It turns out that was more interesting than Union vs. Revs.

I put on Orlando City SC vs. DC United. Devyn and I both found the match more compelling, and that was before Joe Bendik got fired up, saved a PK, and the chance on the ensuing corner.

8:07 pm – Devyn Turns In

I lost my viewing partner to slumber. I came back down to Orlando City playing with ten men, and getting on DC United’s nerves. I switched over to FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake. Despite my personal opinion of MetroBull Legend Mike Petke’s coaching ability, he will always have a place in my cold heart. He was the coach of the New York Red Bulls when they brought home their first piece of silverware – the 2013 Supporter’s Shield. Despite RSL being up 1-0 when I turned it on, it seemed FC Dallas was knocking on the proverbial door.

9:21 pm – Full Meltdown

I think the overlap screwed with me. My brain reached a point between a frozen blender drink and runny oatmeal. I could no longer ingest any more footy. I have finally found my limit at 14 hours and 21 minutes. It’s also not as much fun without my daughter, who has drifted off to dreamland.

Besides, I need to save myself – It’s a long season.

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