Back in September, my brother and I were reflecting on all the soccer we had seen and played over the past few months. There was the Women’s World Cup, the Madrid derby we attended at MetLife Stadium, the various Red Bulls games we watched and our own weeknight league games.
“This was really soccer summer,” I said.
“It’s always soccer summer,” he responded.
And he’s right, of course. Soccer is absorbed into the atmosphere, impossible to isolate and remove from daily life — especially in New York City.
I have spent each summer immersed in soccer, usually without realizing it, but this one was different. My wife was pregnant with our son, work was hard and time-consuming and finding time to play games, to kick the ball around or to watch matches in person or even on TV made it feel a little more special.
A few days after I saw my brother, my team won the championship in our Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5 league — another big moment in a year of soccer.
It was my last game for a while. A few days after that, my wife gave birth to our son.
I now spend my weekend mornings watching the early Premier League matches with him sitting on my lap or rocking in the swing next to me — the current set-up as Arsenal plays Chelsea on TV and I write this. It’s halftime now.
As my son began to grow, soccer summer turned, as it does, into soccer fall and winter.
We watched Christian Pulisic’s hat trick in October. He has listened to most of Tottenham’s matches — though I haven’t bought him a “Son” shirt yet (My brother did get him a full Atletico kit, complete with socks, from the 2007-2008 season). He’ll start kicking a squishy soccer ball around our Queens apartment pretty soon, I imagine. I hope he likes it.
2019 was a big year for soccer around here: Queens has a new pro team in the works. I spent my birthday morning at the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup championship celebration at City Hall.
The sport, and its culture, are everywhere, and it’s comforting, especially while feeling wistful as a new year approaches.