On today’s Community Corner, we want to take everyone down memory lane. We all follow the United States Men’s National Team, the Women’s National Team, or both in some way. We read about matches, watch them on television, attend matches, buy national team gear, and consume every bit of information and media we can about the team and the players.
When there’s a 17-year-old named Christian Pulisic who begins tearing it up for Borussia Dortmund, we want to know about it. When Clint Dempsey ties the record for most goals in a national team jersey, we crave for more. When Tobin Heath completely embarrasses the soul of a player before sending a perfect cross into Alex Morgan for a goal, we watch the replays until our eyelids detach.
We’re superfans, every single one of us. But, how did we get to this point? And that leads us to the question we have for you this week: What match made you fall in love with U.S. Soccer? It could be a match you saw on television, your first match you remember watching with a family member or loved one, or one you attended in person. It could have been your first time seeing a player lace them up for the USWNT or USMNT. It could have been a singular moment. But, we want you to tell us what it was that made you become a diehard fan of the United States National Team.
For me, there were many moments that captured my heart, but the first one that hooked me was June 18, 1994. That’s when the USMNT opened their 1994 World Cup with a match against Switzerland at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. My home. Metro Detroit is where I’m from, and growing up I played soccer but never dreamed that the USMNT would ever play there. It was a dream that no one from my parts ever thought would become reality. And then, the 1994 World Cup was given to the United States, and Detroit was selected as one of the host venues. Not just a host venue, the host venue...the one that would see the host nation have their first match of the World Cup.
The World Cup had opened the day before, which just so happens to be arguably the most incredible day in the history of America because of O.J. Simpson’s infamous White Bronco chase during the NBA Finals. I had just moved from the only place I had ever called home just a couple months earlier, but I remember vividly finding the channel that would carry that match so I could watch every second. The Silverdome, then the home of the Detroit Lions, was packed to the gills. My body ached at the fact that we didn’t have the chance to experience this moment in person, but hearing the crowd roar louder than any sporting event I had ever seen to that point was captivating.
My city was the center of the world. All eyes were on it. And the scenes were extraordinary. I remember the camera going down the line showing the American players during the national anthem, and then stopping at Alexi Lalas. Lalas, a native of suburban Detroit, grew up playing soccer not 5 miles from the Silverdome’s doors. Now, he was center stage representing his country in his city. Our city. There was nothing like that feeling, and it was that moment that had me hooked.
The United States was my team, and I had the most pride knowing that match in my town took my fandom to new heights. The United States drew Switzerland that day 1-1 thanks to an Eric Wynalda free kick goal, but every match from then on out found me in front of a TV. June 18, 1994...that’s the date my fandom became more than fandom. That’s the date I fell in love with U.S. Soccer.
So, which match is it for you? This is your chance to shine. Hit the comments and let us know which match it was for you, whether it was on the men’s side or the women’s side. The best part about this: there’s no wrong answer. Your moment is yours. We can’t wait to read which one it was.