Classifieds F.C.

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Tuesday was a pretty big day in the world of football, or as we say in the states, soccer. The day was noteworthy because it marked the 100-day mark until the action starts in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, probably the world’s most watched and followed sporting activity.

The day stood out personally because it marked the 1-year anniversary (should it even be called that?) since I hung up my whistle and clipboard (I never used either item) and coached my final soccer match with the Strikers back in Lexington. Full disclosure, it was actually a year and two days. Who’s counting?

So what could mark the day better than lacing up the indoor soccer shoes, slipping in the shin guards and taking the pitch for a match?

A clock on the wall ticked down minutes and seconds, the score was kept and a referee oversaw the proceedings on the small pitch inside the Adirondack Sports Complex, better known as the Dome.

The World Cup it was not.

But a match is a match and it was far more official than the pick-up indoor game a week earlier here in Saratoga Springs. That was my first soccer in nearly five years, not counting running around at practices with the Strikers.

The side I suited up for was actually my wife’s squad since she resumed her playing career last fall, was the cleverly named Classifieds F.C. The F.C. is Football Club, of course, and the Classifieds part came about because the team was formed from people who posted notes on the Dome’s classified section seeking to join a squad.

Like I said, clever.

The opponent was the even more ingeniously named humulus lupulus, which is Latin for common hops, one of the main ingredients in beer. They wore light green t-shirts with the Adirondack Brewery and Pub logo on the front.

It’s co-ed, but there are probably just a handful of women on the league’s 10 teams. Nearly all of humulus lupulus, like the Classifieds and just about every other team in the league, were in their 20s. Maybe some in their 30s. None, like me, in their 40s. Ah well, age is just a number.

All told the match didn’t go well. It got away from our side quickly. The ref said after it got to 5-0 we could play with seven players to their six. He was kidding, I think. My 42-year-old body hit the turf three times, once ricocheting off the other team’s goalkeeper and into my wife and another time sort of a half fall near the end line that strangely left me feeling like I’d been punched in the ribs without ever actually falling on them.

Took a ball to the face – thankfully not squarely – played some pitiful defense at times, didn’t hustle other times and made far more mistakes than the coach in me would have tolerated just a year earlier.

The Ballon d’Or is not in the cards.

Yet the game wasn’t a total loss.

Scored a goal and assisted on another, got some good exercise and woke up with that good-sore-different-from-running feeling, so perhaps there’s a silver lining to this soccer stuff.

There always is, really. Lamenting that final soccer match as coach of the Strikers last March I wrote that “the sport of soccer is truly a wonderful game that can teach people, young and old, about so many important lessons that they’ll use for the rest of their lives.”

True then, and true now.

Another pickup game looms Thursday and three more matches complete the indoor winter season for the Classifieds F.C.

Bring it on.