Two teams, two cups, one dream

May. 29, 2014 @ 07:55 AM

I know Memorial Day was the unofficial start of summer, but I want to take you back to school for a minute. Do you remember what a juxtaposition is? For those who don’t, a juxtaposition is the side-by-side comparison of two seemingly unrelated things to emphasis thier similarities or differences.

I watched two teams play Tuesday night that are perfect candidates for such a comparison, the Forest City Owls and the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT).

I know what you are thinking, “He can’t possibly compare CPL baseball and international soccer can he?” If I can compare Chipper Jones’ retirement to that of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, this will be a piece of cake.  

Let’s start with the easiest and most important comparison. Both teams won. Forest City used a seven-run first inning to shutout Columbia 9-0, improving the Owls’ opening night record to a perfect 7-0. The USMNT also posted a shutout, overcoming a slow start to defeat Azerbaijan 2-0. Yes, I know it was only one game for both teams and yes I know it takes a lot more than one game to win the Pettit and World Cup. But as first games go, it was a good start.

Another similarity is that both teams are made up of players from across the nation. Take Owls pitchers Max Cordy and local product Dakotah Thomas, for example. One hails from Sacramento the other from Ellenboro. You can’t find two hometowns more different than that, both geographically and otherwise.  

Parallels between the two rosters abound. U.S. captain, Clint Dempsey, is a local product having played college soccer at nearby Furman University. (As a side note, Gardner-Webb beat Dempsey’s Paladins in 2003, his only season with the team before joining the professional ranks). Then there are the goal scorers from Tuesday’s match, Mix Diskerud and Aron Johannsson. They originally hail from Norway and Iceland, respectively, a far cry from the Home of the Brave, but they have come together with their teammates in pursuit of hoisting a cup at summer’s end. See the connection, Owls fans?

Finally, I think winning on Tuesday went a long way in healing both fan bases. If you read my column, “Baseball Plain and Simple”, you know that I vehemently disagree with GM Corey Dirkson’s carnival approach to baseball. Winning covers a multitude of sins, however, and I’m more than willing to overlook the things I disagree with if the team continues to play like it did on Tuesday.

Judging by the crowd at Candlestick Park, USMNT fans have put aside their differences with coach Jurgen Klinsmann after he left superstar Landon Donavan off the World Cup roster. Like I did with the Owls, soccer fans sent up a howl of protests when the roster was released that could be heard from sea to shining sea. But when the boys in red, white and blue took the pitch, that didn’t matter. Chants of U.S.A! U.S.A.! still rang throughout the stadium.

The soccer fans understood that you don’t have to agree or like decisions made by management to support the team. They will support the team through the entire World Cup journey and dream of the day when they can hoist that trophy.

Owls fans need to follow that example. We need to support the Owls in their Pettit Cup journey.  Hopefully, more than the 1,613 fans who came to opening night agree with me.

Let’s put aside the differences of opinion and Facebook rants over seating and other issues.  Let’s pack McNair Field with the 3,000-plus fans every night like manager Andrew Ciencin has asked. I for one will be there because I want to see, in person, one team raise a cup at the end of the year, and I can’t afford a ticket to Brazil.