Recently a law firm mistakenly hired me to be a court runner in Orlando for a month. The job consisted mostly of drinking free Naked Juices and drawing dicks in Snap Chat. Occasionally, be them rare, my employers asked me to carry boxes of legal papers to and from the courthouse. On one such trip, an attorney pecked out an e-mail in front of me while I pulled a handcart full of boxes.  As we passed a parked car, I noticed someone fumbling for parking meter change. I knocked on the car window, pointed to his Orlando City shirt and said “Come on you Rowdies”. That was love.

 

According to poems I pretended to read in school, love is grand. It’s feeling the earth moving with someone, green lights on docks, and airport speeches to Drew Barrymore.  My experiences with love are limited, yet through pop culture I conceptually understand it. Love is not a bunch of good to mediocre soccer players having sloppy, yet intense, midfield battles on a converted baseball diamond in St. Petersburg, Fl.

 

If this love was wrong, why did it feel right on October 27th, 2012 when 6,208 fans and I watched the Tampa Bay Rowdies beat the Minnesota Stars to raise the NASL Soccer Bowl trophy? R. Kelly understood love more then Wordsworth, Byron, or Keats.

 

“My mind is telling me no, but my body is telling me yes”

Damn. You get it, Robert Kelly. You get it.

My mind lived within reality.

 

“It was just championship in the second tier of the United States soccer pyramid. Why care Julien?” said my brain.

Please allow the fabrication of a mathematical formula to give perspective on the NASL. Sportingintelligence.com ranked MLS (first tier of American soccer) 7th in the world. A solid rank for a young league but the level of play found in the top 4 (Germany, England, Spain, Italy respectfully) delegates MLS to a second tier league in the world. NASL is the second tier in the US. After inputting the information into my bullshit formula filled with exponents and pi, the NASL is at best a fourth tier league in the world. Essentially comparing pebbles and planets.

 

My body had no time for math. My body knew what it felt. Rowdies lost 2-0 in the first leg. Dread. We slam home a goal. Joy. Our rocket header saved. Misery. We tied series. Belief. They responded quick. Depression. We scored in the 85th minute. Bliss. We get red card. Annoyance. Extra time. Sweat. Attinella became legend in penalty shootouts. Elation. We lift trophy. Ecstasy.

 

I stumbled out of Al Land stadium and into a friend’s Halloween party. My voice gone from shouting. Every explanation of the magic witnessed met with apathy. My ecstasy dulled from loud music. The moment diluted. By dawn, it felt like fever dream. A stadium packed for a soccer game, the impossible comeback, and the dramatic shootout was all too good to be true. I resorted to the mind. Yet it all came back when I walked with my boss and insulted a stranger who supported our rivals. Love is never about the mind. It is about the body and love is grand.

 

*The Rowdies’ league, and favorite, rival will forever be the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. It extends from the original NASL days. The rivalry is one-sided in its current form. Rowdies have an 8-4-1 (W-D-L) record against the Strikers. Orlando City Soccer Club plays in the third tier of the US Soccer pyramid (USL Pro). Since their inaugural season 2011 season, they have dominated their league. They finished first in the regular season twice and won the championship in 2011. This sparked a rivalry between Rowdies and Orlando City. Both teams want the title “Best Team in Florida”. The supporters argued the results of a fictional game on Twitter. The two organizations constructed the I4 Derby to please the fans. Orlando City won both legs. This interaction occurred between the two legs of the derby.

 

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Julien Llerena

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