When I watch soccer, or any sport actually, what I am most amazed at is how quickly the athletes think and make decisions. I have never been blessed with that "vision", what football players (american style football that is) call the game "slowing down". When international soccer legend John Schepers played on the team I quickly realized that much of the misunderstanding between us was because he was playing the game five seconds into the future, and I was always five seconds in the past.
It is probably not a coincidence I typically play defense which is slightly more reactive than offense. Although I clearly remember occasions playing with Gerry Kane when the offense would be attacking one side of the pitch and Gerry would be sliding over to the other. Just as I wondered where he was going the other team would recognize the side they were on was fruitless and they would cross the ball only to have it intercepted by Gerry who was already waiting for it.
An irony now that I am reaching the later stages of my career is that the game is starting to "slow down". Unfortunately so am I. For the first time I can see the passing alleys before they open. When I get the ball I always look for Kirk (I will never get over that 29 goal 1999 season) but I instinctively know that Giles is sweeping down the right side and Dave has turned and is patiently waiting exactly 10 yards in front of me for a ball at his feet. Too bad that while I weigh these options some kid clammers into the back of me.
When it comes to scoring however, I think there is no hope. I often wonder what strikers see as they approach the net with the ball. I imagine they see a limping three foot high goalie with an arm in a sling and huge cavernous spaces to shoot at. Through the gaping scoring opportunities they look through the back of the net into the crowd and see super models yelling "score one for me Kirk, score one for me".
I realize I have no scoring touch so on my few forays up field I study the goalie looking for tendencies, I visualize, on stoppages I count out the paces to the front and back post, I visualize again, trying to anticipate where the ball will go under different scenarios. But when the ball is at my feet and I look up, do you know what I see? NOTHING. Maybe it is because of the adrenaline, maybe my natural defenseman's complete fear of failure, maybe I just suck, but I see nothing. No diminutive invalid, no huge open spaces to shoot at, no super models chanting "we love you Brucey". The bloody net simply disappears.
Bruce Crouter (30+ years of league play, one open field goal - Thanks again John)