Nereida Moreno is a Cal State Fullerton alumna and current news intern for the Los Angeles News Group. She did not watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup final. And she firmly believes that Guillermo Ochoa’s hair is directly related to his success as a goalkeeper. If you’re not going to tonight’s Club America-Galaxy friendly at StubHub Center, Moreno can relate:
I’m a reformed soccer fan.
From ages 11 to 17, I considered myself a walking stat machine, obsessing over Italy’s Serie A and Premiere League standings. I knew every player in Liga MX, and even some from the second division.
During my sophomore year of high school, I begged my sister to drive me from San Bernardino to Carson to watch Club America battle Morelia in the final match of the 2008 Interliga Tournament. The winner would earn one of two spots at the Copa Libertadores tournament in South America. While I was upset at missing the opening Atlas vs San Luis runner-up match in traffic, I’ll never forget the awe I felt at the hardcore fandom in the sold-out Home Depot Center.
Waving a medium-sized Club America flag, we all bled blue and yellow. The game kept us on the edge of our seats, as the tied match went into overtime. Sitting directly behind the goal-post, I watched as my team beat Morelia 3(5)- 3(3) in a penalty shoot out.
It was, and possibly still may be, the happiest I have ever felt in my short life.
But then came the heartache.
Once I graduated high school in 2010, everything began to change. I moved to Fullerton for college, lost touch with my high school friends and got a job. Suddenly, it became harder and harder to keep up with the sport. On one hazy night, while taking a break from writing a history paper, I tuned into Republica Deportiva, my favorite late-night sports recap show.
I watched as the newscaster went through the week’s game highlights. Why was Sergio Aguero leaving Atletico Madrid? When did Manchester City become a good club? How did Chepo de La Torre manage to keep his job? Stunned, I scrambled to figure out what else I had missed.
It’s difficult to enjoy the victories of my favorite teams when their rosters are constantly and rapidly changing. Club soccer just doesn’t fit into my world.
I’m now a sucker for national play. I love watching familiar faces play for their countries and watch new players rise as national heroes. No matter where they are in the world, it’s exhilarating to watch club players put their rivalries aside and join forces for their countries.
Or better, it’s fun to watch teammates like Neymar and Messi put their clubs aside and fiercely go head-to-head.