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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Messi or Ronaldo?

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Leg strength isn't everything, unless your Ronnie Coleman.  
A question that strikes the minds of most soccer fans of my generation "whose better, Messi or Ronaldo?". If you were to ask a Barcelona fan, or Real Madrid fan you would know your answer in a heartbeat. The same would go for Portugal or Argentina fans. How can myself, being a Manchester City/Bayern fan come to a conclusion on this argument? Well I think it isn't that simple, there is no right answer. Sure everyone has favorites, and both have solid points to their sides arguments, but cant we all just come to the conclusion to be lucky to be alive while these two are in their Prime?

Lets try and think of it this way, we have two different candy bars. We have the ever so delicious Hershey's bar and the scrumptious 3 Musketeer bar. Both are amazing in their own right. The Hershey's bar is so chocolatey and sweet to every bite, while the Musketeer offers its own twist on the chocolate flavor. There is no doubt both by themselves earned a spot in the hall of fame for candy, but neither is better than the other. They have different properties to their bar, the Hershey's a pure and simple chocolate with a great coco taste. The Musketeer is a breed of fluffy chocolate mix that was built upon over the years. Now you ask what does two future soccer legends have to do with candy bars (other than get you hungry)? Its simple really, both Messi and Ronaldo are two types of player who are phenomenal separately, yet neither can be declared the better "candy bar".

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Messi a man who grew up into the La Masia at the Barcelona youth teams, had a growth deficiency when he started to develop. Yet this didn't stop him, rather excelled him into his ability of being shifty and glued to the ball. His small stature at a mere 5'7, combined with his deceptive non-athletic look makes him for a huge underdog in his younger years. That didn't stop him from breaking into a talent driven first-team in Barcelona, and even scoring on his debut. The ball seems to be magnetically glued to his feet, and his ability to score and assist at will is unrivaled. His start sure didn't halt him from going on to being named best player of the year a record 5 times. Hasn't stopped him from countless records and an ever growing number of goals and assist.

Messi with Barcelona during the UEFA Super Cup
To me he is more of a load of talent that came to the soccer scene, rather than a bulk of hard work. Do not get me wrong he probably worked hard to get where he is, but he had a great starting point of just raw talent to propel him forward even faster. Than again he's just another good candy bar, just like any of the soccer greats that have come throughout the times. To some maybe the best, but why debate on the best, each has their faults and lacks some form of accolade to solidify their resume. Messi's is more of national team struggles, while his rival Ronaldo has recently stolen away the National Treasure of the World cup.
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Ronaldo after scoring a goal in the El Clasico
Ronaldo can't. be seen as less or more than Messi, yet we must appreciate what he has done. He has brought himself up into the world of soccer through dedication and hard work. He emulates what I live by, a strong work ethic on and off the field. He is the most fit  soccer player the game has seen. This includes his ability of  using a wide range of skills to beat a defender with pace.

This was first evident in his young age at Sporting Lisbon, and than later defined at Manchester United. Now it is finally in full force at Real Madrid. A player unlike his counterpart, he uses his hard work to push him to be the strongest, fastest, and most athletic on the field. His gym routine and training must take up at least 6 hours of the day, maybe more.  He is able to blow by defenders, and throw them in for a loop with is wide range of skill moves. He was known for his free kicks for quite sometime, something he practiced countless times on the training grounds. Yet he is just another bar in the box full of candy, and a well rounded one no doubt.

Countless candy bars to choose from, not just our Hershey's bar or Musketeer. Personally I wouldn't prefer having just one to pick, I would rather been able to have a wide range and enjoy them all. Cant neglect a Snickers, Twix, Mars, and many more bars! The same can be said about many other soccer players, but none will be in the same category as Messi or Ronaldo. I personally can say I'm a Ronaldo supporter in this debate because of the pure dedication and hard work he put in to get where he is, as he started with possibly less talent than Messi. Yet lets enjoy them both while they last, because I would of loved to seen Pele or Maradona in their prime against modern players. Just another discussion for another time, whose the best ever?

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Start of My Soccer Career

Where do most sports or soccer stories start? With someone that gave them a reason to love the sport. The sport you cherish, and live to be able to play every second. Its simple really, it was my father. A man who has long been dedicated to sports. He played football, track and field, and bits and drabs of baseball. It wasn't until his sophomore year of high school where he realized he had a passion for soccer. He switched up his time and effort from the American past-time sport of Football (or better named hand-egg), and joined up with the up and coming European football.

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A Men's College Soccer Team 1984. Peep the nostalgic uni's.
This was a time in the 80's that would become the emergence for soccer in America, where the journey of modern soccer truly rose. Short-shorts, funky hair, and long white tube socks, the style was in full force and my father jumped aboard. He utilized his tenacity from football and applied it on the soccer field. A true brute of a defender. At centerback or fullback it makes no difference, he was winning the ball. Whether that meant he had to go through you or not, he won it.
A unique feature, which almost seemed to be genetic as I have acquired it, was his long throw-in. He used the full might of his run up to launch a 35-yard bomb into the game, something I have further increased. A weapon of this caliber is what I try to capitalize on, making it another set piece. The journey for my father continued on to the collegiate-level, playing as a walk on at a division 2 school. He made the most of what time he got. He didn't play much after his freshman year as raising me and my four brothers took over, but his love for the sport never left him.

Image result for father critiquing son in soccerNo, the passion and drive never left, it just changed to a different aspect of the game. Now the same passion that ran through his blood was passed down to me and my brothers. We all played on little-league teams, of which my father coached all 4 of us throughout the years. Playing under your father isn't always the easiest for people, but for me I loved every second of it. My brothers dropped the sport and picked up other niches and pastimes, but I stuck with it. I couldn't see myself without the sport that my father, my "hero" had brought me up to love. He told me stories of his glory days, and it made me picture what could for me in the future. I felt a need to try and live up to what his legacy was, though not as grand as being one of David Beckham's kids.

 Yet I think what he did that truly made me love the sport, was the time we spent together, as sentimental as that sounds. I loved the moments on the field knowing my father was there for me. We sat and had our eyes glued to the TV together, gazing upon EPL, MLS, and international games. Your father being your coach and spectator it leaves a big opening for up-close observations. The actions and mistakes I made, and as well as the positives, would be brought up on car rides home.

My dad would critique me after games and practices, like any perfectionist and reminiscent father would. Yet unlike most, I loved the critique, I thrived in his thoughts. I used what he said, took it to heart, and began to do what I could to improve. I wanted to be able to be like my dad in his old stories. I wanted to play soccer and make him proud.

Now I was never anything special from a young age, all the way up to high school. I was on the lowest travel team, the E-team, with aspirations to play on the A-team. The A-team was comprised of popular kids and their friends, but they did win states twice for my town, and managed to increase my desire to join them. My father was able and willing to give me the truth about my soccer skills to than improve on them. I truly thank him for this because without that I wouldn't of wanted of know what to work on, no matter how dedicated I was. I think I gained his work ethic, seeing as how he now works 50 hours a week.

 I am grateful for what he has done for me, pushing me to better, and instilling in me the desire to play at a higher level of soccer. Yet the biggest take away for what my dad did for me was the essential need to try and make him proud. It was something every child, and soccer player wants to hear from their parents mouth. I did hear it when I got myself to the collegiate level, and to this day nothing has made me more joyous. The trainings I bared through were worth it to get where I am today, and I am happy with how far I've come. Something that you can learn further more about in reading future posts.