Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thoughts on a Loooooong Offseason

It seems like only days ago. There I was, in my plush recliner, eyes fixated on the images of Dynamo players jumping in jubilation, and my mind journeying to the netherworld of bewilderment. An uncomposed sigh escaped by quivering lips. As I attempted to peel my sunken self (and soul) out of my upright tomb, I stood up and was promptly slapped in the face, then kicked in the cookies by two harsh realities: We lost. The season was over. Those sudden realizations settled in my gut like a cold meatball sandwich. It just sat there. Ugh.

Actually, it doesn't at all seem like it was mere days ago. In my own twisted version of reality, it actually felt like an eternity. After the heartbreaking MLS Cup loss that took shape thousands of smiles south of cold November New England, I began counting down the days until the start of a new season, with the hollow emptiness of Nicole Ritchie's stomach. The feeling was not unlike the one experienced after Aaron Boone ripped out, repeatedly stabbed, and stomped on the collective heart of Red Sox Nation three years prior. After a voyage to the realm of suspended animation - the refusal to believe what just happened - you immediately wanted to cry your tears, pound the wall, and punch the nearest cheery-faced, Yankee-capped fan on campus. Hey, how ABOUT those Red Sox? WHACK!!! But after the anger phase of the fiery inferno only a devoted fan could feel, you chinned up, threw back a few shots, felt the burn in your throat, shook your dome, and widened your eyes. The off-season is much like purgatory - although temporary, it still carries the scars of scorched memories of the previous life, er, season.
Nevertheless, despite the lingering after-effects, you could begin counting the days toward a season anew.

It is with an abundance of optimism, hope, and cheer that I welcome this new opportunity to fulfill the title aspirations destroyed last year by creamsicle-colored men. Alas, the flashes of missed penalty kicks and Jay Heaps biting his jersey in disbelief were beginning to fade, giving way to the blank canvasses where grand scenes shall be painted upon this season.

After an offseason that saw us wave goodbye to Pepe and Deuce, speculation of how to use our Designated Player Allocation, and the surprise selection of an unheralded Wells Thompson in SuperDraft, it is time to endeavor toward the cherry blossoms of a new MLS season. Sure, it's still winter - hell, even that rodent clairvoyant known as Punxutawney Phil has yet to make his annual springtime prediction. But with preseason training about to commence soon after a Patriot-less Super Bowl weekend, one can only see the navy blue light at the end of the tunnel as the beacon of hope for this Revolution fan. Sure, it'll be fun to root against Peyton Manning on Sunday – I’m a sadistic anti-Manning basher- but the true delight in my eyes is due to the high-calorie smorgasbord of preseason scrimmages, workouts, and drills only a soccer junkie like me could truly appreciate. If my waistline was predicated upon the unhealthy mental consumption of the cheesecake and fried chicken of mundane scrimmages and drills, I'd be a 500 pound man.

I cannot adequately express the high level of joy and excitement I look upon the hopes of the actual upcoming regular season. New players, new kits (possibly), US Women’s National Team & Gold Cup games in Foxboro. Kid in a candy store? Yeah right. I'm more like the guy with that four hour side-effect of Cialis, looking dead square at a row of sorority houses.

The new calendar year already here, and the new soccer year comes into focus sharper by the day. Let us cast aside our doubts, our fears, and worries of issues we cannot control. Much like the minuteman on the Massachusetts state quarter, we must boldly look forward and hope for the best. Because as fans, all we can do is hope. At the risk of sounding like Bill Simmons, I take solace in the scene from Shawshank Redemption in which Andy told Red that, "hope is a good thing - maybe the best of things."

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