Where Do We Go from Here?

“So, you’re going to follow soccer now?”

I’ve received that question in some form or fashion almost every day for the last week.

The short answer to that question is, “I think so.”

The long answer is, “I think so, but I’m not really sure what that even means.”

I think I summed it up best in a conversation with my buddy Tyler the other day when he asked me that very question. “If this was The Bachelor,” I responded, “I would not be getting on one knee with a Neil Lane diamond ring to propose to soccer, but I would be giving it the final rose to keep the relationship going.”

That’s where I stand with soccer heading into the final two days of the tournament. It’s too early to put a ring on it, but I absolutely want to see where this goes.

So what are my potential next steps, and how likely am I to take them?

Here are five possibilities.

1 – Attend a live soccer game.

The MLS Season runs through October, so there’s still plenty of time to attend a game if I want to experience soccer in person. The Philadelphia Union play about an hour away, and for less than $50 a pop I can get a decent seat.

I’m definitely not ready to fly somewhere to take in a marquee soccer matchup, but a night out to see the local professional team in action actually sounds fun.

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 85%

2 – Pick a Premier League team to follow.

The start of the Premier League season is less than a month away, so this seems like a great idea if I want to keep the soccer momentum going. Can I see myself drinking my Saturday morning coffee while watching NBC Sports’ game of the week? Excuse me, “Match” of the week? (Still trying to get the jargon right over here.) I think I can.

As far as I know, that’s really my only option for following club soccer. I feel like I’ve seen Bundesliga games on FOX Sports every once in a while, but if I have any hope of sticking with an entire soccer season, I need to go with the most popular (and most televised) option.

As for what team to cheer for, I’m not sure if I should declare a favorite before the season, or if I should watch with an open mind to see if I am naturally pulled to a specific club. I already have fans of Manchester City, Tottenham, and Liverpool trying to bring me into their fold, and frankly, I’m feeling a little pressured about the whole thing.

(If you want to add to that pressure and suggest an EPL team I should pull for, tweet me @bryanallain.)

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 75%

3 – Track the U.S. Men’s team’s path to the 2022 World Cup

I have no idea when the qualification process for the next World Cup starts, but I know that I’m going to want our country playing in the next World Cup.

In the past whenever SportsCenter would mention a U.S. soccer friendly or a CONCACAF qualifier I would immediately tune out. Going forward, I think my ears are going to perk up, and I’m going to take notes. I want to know how good we are and whether or not we’ll make it to Qatar in 2022.

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 95%

NOTE: Did you know the Women’s World Cup is next summer? I had no idea until my editor just informed me! I thought I was going to have to wait until the 2020 Euros for a good competition, but now I can watch the ladies! And the best part? We’re good! What more could you ask for?

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 95%

4 – Buy a soccer jersey.

I do not own a single jersey of any sports franchise because I’m a 41-year old man who likes to look like a 41-year old man. (I’m sorry if I just hurt your feelings, don’t @ me.)

That being said, soccer jerseys are probably the best looking uniform shirt you can wear without looking like a doof. (NBA jersey tank tops are at the bottom of this list, and it’s not even close.) If I do eventually land on a Premier League team to follow, and if I like the way their kits look, then there’s a decent chance I jump in and get some merch.

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 25%

Actually, if the U.S. Men’s team gets some momentum I could see myself in a Christian Pulisic jersey at some point. I just found out this week that he’s from Hershey, PA, about 45 minutes from where I live.

UPDATE: LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 30%

5 – Start playing on an adult rec league soccer team.

The last time I played soccer was as a 10-year old, and I was in such good shape that my coach had me play striker and center midfielder at the same time so he could put an extra player back on defense.

That was over 30 years ago, and as far as I can remember, I was not really a good player. I did not play in high school, and outside of a few intramural games with some friends my freshman year of college, I haven’t played since.

Not to bring everything back to golf…but I’m bringing this one back to golf. There is no way I’m risking losing any part of my golf season due to a busted ankle or torn knee ligament from playing soccer. I’ve also never really been into the header thing. Seems like a great way to get a headache.

Watching soccer? Sure.

Playing soccer? Not a chance.

LIKELIHOOD OF THIS HAPPENING – 0%

So that’s where I stand with soccer going forward. I’m not committed for life (yet), but I am committed to seeing where this thing goes.

And in true Bachelor fashion, I’m pretty excited for “the most dramatic episode of this World Cup yet”, when the Championship game goes down on Sunday in Moscow. Let’s do this.

“Everything is practice.”

Pelé

Bryan Allain has spent 41 years of his life ignoring soccer in favor of the Red Sox and golf, the REAL beautiful game. (His words not ours). This is the account of his 30-day, all in, deep dive on the premier showcase of the most popular sport on earth, the 2018 World Cup.