I love underdogs. Can’t resist rooting for them. So when I became obsessed with this soccer video game titled, “Winning Eleven,” and decided that I needed to follow “proper” football (that’s what this guy from Liverpool I once met called it, as in “oh, you follow proper football, as well?”), I set out to find an underdog with the most potential to, as my friend Dave puts it, “justify my love.”
It didn’t take long for me to latch on to Fulham FC. They had a lot going for them in my book: their logo has a red/black/white color scheme (I’m naturally drawn to this scheme), they’re a London-based team, they play in an iconic stadium with a cool name–Craven Cottage–located on the River Thames, and most importantly, they have the most American-born footballers of any side in the Premiership: Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Eddie Johnson, Carlos Bocanegra, and Kasey Keller.
Just one problem: in the words of Michael Davies, they were “absolute pants.” In the middle of this season, they were deep in the relegation zone, virtually guaranteed to drop from the Premiership. After a watching a few games, I pretty much lost faith in them. I figured they were goners and the Americans would be scattered throughout the American-footballers-too-good-for-the-MLS Diaspora. I began to tune out and refocused my attention on the baseball season (and the Dodgers!).
But somehow the Cottagers pulled it out. And I feel like a fraud for missing an amazing comeback. That’s what I get for doubting them. Lessoned learned, never count out a bunch of yanks. Wait till next year.