Last year at this time he was at a different club, had a coach who didn't know what to do with him and a team full of cliques and shitheads... now his team looks to him to make plays, he was the only offensive player not to be subbed off, to get a break, his new coach has given him back his confidence and belief in his ability and he actually plays for a better team, the oldest football club in America... the I-mac is coming up on his 13th birthday in a few months and already is taller than a good number of adults, almost 5'10 and creeping up on 130 lbs he's long and lean and runs like a deer. The words of various coaches to describe his athletic ability have included special and freakish.
And so with 15 minutes to go and the rain coming down and the score tied nil-nil and hope slowly starting to fade the opposing goalie shifted the ball to his left back who looked up and saw a flurry of legs coming at him, the I-mac stripping him clean, taking a touch and sprinting in on goal with the ball, a slight feint to his left and a shot back to the right and the ball was in the back of the net. 1-0. A few minutes later he won the ball again and played it out wide to his right back and ran into the 18yd box, as the ball came towards him he dummied the ball and let it run between his legs, freezing three defenders so his teammate behind could slot home the second. 2-nil. 9 minutes left. A frantic three minutes later the I-mac received the ball on the wing and dashed towards the box again, a move, a flick, and the defender put it over the line for a corner, 6 minutes to go. Off the corner there was a scramble and the ball fell to their striker, a kid who desperately needed a goal and who had missed a sitter shortly after the I-mac opened the scoring... and in a blink it was in, 3-nil!!! and five to go.
As is the usual the I-mac was shifted to center-back to lock down the defense for the last five minutes, his speed giving him the ability to run down pretty much anyone he's played so far this season. The other team wanting to ruin the party pushed up and i could see the boy looking to nick the ball in midfield and have a crack at goal from 50 yards out but instead they shut the door and when the whistle sounded there was much jumping and screaming, job done, third clean sheet in a row and a trip to the final to come...
Until of course the school district closed their fields canceling the final. Word came down not five minutes after the game had ended robbing these kids who had worked so hard. Sadly that's the way it goes sometimes but as we drove the four hours home i told the I-mac he and his team should be proud. I pulled out the Braveheart line and told him, he fought like a poet and warrior and a Scot and that Pops would have been proud of him, a little smile crept through the disappointment, the boy and his team wanted to play though technically by the tie-break rules they had won the tournament. It's not the way they wanted to win it though and i think it's pretty damn cool none of them wanted to get it that way. They wanted to earn it. 20 minutes into our ride home the I-mac was passed out in the back seat. He did earn that.