Monday, March 28, 2011

A journey of 1000 miles...

...begins with a single step.

I'm not sure why it took me this long to start a soccer blog, especially considering how much I love the game and how much I love writing.

But here it is. I hope it's the beginning of something big. Or at least medium. :)

I was out at the Sporting KC practice facility today for the reserves game with the Kansas City Brass. Normally, this would be something that not many people would know about. Then again, the past week has been anything but normal for Sporting KC. Chad Ochocinco being among the SKC reserves will do that for you.

Having been at practice Thursday and Friday, you could see that there's been a lot of improvement in Ochocinco's play since he started. Considering that he gave up soccer for football in 10th grade, it's understandable that there's quite a bit of rust on his soccer skills. The 6-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has been working really hard at practice and has been, in the words of SKC coach Peter Vermes, incredibly coachable. They tell him what he needs to do to get better and he does it.

I know there are people who, for one reason or another, don't think very much of Ochocinco's trial with SKC. If you know anything about Chad, he doesn't care what anybody else thinks of him. Some people think that this is just a publicity stunt. His reputation would certainly lend itself to that particular criticism. However, having seen the work he's been putting in during this trial, I take him at his word that this is not an attempt at getting people's attention during the NFL lockout. I've heard him say more than once that he could die tomorrow and his dream of playing soccer at an elite level would be fulfilled. Vermes has said that he's been a class act and a true professional. The other players seem to genuinely enjoy having him around.

I'm sure there are others, soccer purists, that don't particularly care for the circus that star athletes from one sport always seem to bring with them when they try another sport (can we say Michael Jordan and baseball?). For anybody that seriously wants Ochocinco to leave simply because he's not a soccer player, just think about this. ESPN has been out at the SKC training facility all week. Several media outlets, local and national, have been spending time and energy covering the team that wouldn't normally be out there daily for practice. Ochocinco has been telling them that soccer's a lot harder than he thought it was, especially at this level.

Yes, Ochocinco does bring the spotlight with him wherever he goes, but it's shining on a team that has, quite frankly, had trouble sometimes with connecting with the media in this town, through no fault of their own. If this increased attention gets more people to watch this team in particular, and the sport in general, then it's been worth every second of it.

I'm hoping to have pictures of the game up later tonight or in the morning. I'll also be touring LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Wednesday and will bring you my thoughts on the new home the team's building out by the Kansas Speedway. See you soon.

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