As the Saturday match against Columbus moved into the 20th minute, I started to feel a sense of déjà vu. This match felt strangely familiar. In fact, it felt almost exactly like the match I'd seen less than twelve hours before, when my EPL side Aston Villa lost a 1-0 lead to Bolton at home. The Sounders had taken an early lead, but they couldn't keep possession of the ball, allowing the Crew to surge forward and attack the goal. If it weren't for the combination of misplaced shots and Kasey Keller's spectacular serves (quite similar to fellow American Brad Friedel's saves earlier in the Villa match) Columbus would have equalized, or more likely taken a lead.
Yet the soccer gods finally decided that I deserved a break, after making me endure multiple losses and draws by the Sounders, Villa, Napoli, Exeter, and seemingly any soccer team that I had a vague rooting interest in. Saturday night was the night of Blaise Nkufo, with the striker's consistent presence in front of the net paying off, giving him not only his first MLS goal but his first MLS hat-trick. Those same soccer gods decided to mock me as well, with least-favorite player Nate Sturgis's penalty conversion leading to his first goal in five MLS seasons.
They're funny, these soccer gods. They sure do enjoy tormenting the fans. Theyll use any means possible, too: a blind referee, a diving opposition player, a ball that crosses the line but is magically bundled out so quickly that it is never given as a goal. And if these fail, the gods will get you using your own team, wreaking havoc by tweaking hamstrings, arranging transfers, or even causing a player to entirely forget how to play his position.
Rarely are the pranks from the soccer gods enough to make fans give up, but I confess, I was very, very close on Saturday night. I'd already watched an inadequate match at an ungodly hour. My best friend had invited me out for pizza. I just didn't want to see the Sounders play. In fact, had I not needed to cover the game, I probably would have skipped it in favor of something that had absolutely nothing to do with soccer.
But sometimes a match comes along which reminds you how much fun being a fan can be. From Nkufo's fourth minute opening goal to the goal in the 75th when he completed his hat-trick, the Sounders had me hooked. Admittedly, it was abject terror that held me in its grasp until Nkufo notched his second, and I was still cautious about the very possibility of winning up until the penalty conversion, but I'd gained back a bit of hope. And nothing compares to that feeling when you know your team has completed an out-and-out rout over another club. In fact, I think that sometimes, the gods like to give the fans a spell of poor play. That way they can kick back and giggle at the astonished frenzy that occurs below when a team answers with a resounding win.