All You Will Ever Need To Know About Soccer

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A Futbol Fable: The Beautiful Season
The Prologue

Not one person in the huge crowd at the U.S. Olympic Training Center soccer pitch had sat down since play resumed after half-time. The up-and-down, back-and-forth action was just too intense for any fan to relax for even a moment. Imagine what it was like for the combatants on the field and the teams’ coaching staffs prowling the sidelines.

As daylight faded at this high profile venue that inexplicably had no artificial lighting to enable nighttime play, the action intensified. It appeared that extra time would be required to settle the contest. Verification for this was provided by the stentorian voice of the Public Address announcer solemnly intoning, “…One minute, one minute of stoppage time has been added on by the referee…one minute.” If it was possible, the level of intensity rose even higher as neither side relished the idea of two ten-minute overtimes, followed, possibly, by that most capricious decider in all of sports, penalty kicks!

1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes passed. Play continued unabated. The murmured buzz of the crowd notched up to a crescendo as the spectators simultaneously reached the inevitable conclusion: the league officials had agreed that the next goal scored would decide the outcome.

The shrill blast of the referee’s whistle halted play as a corner kick was awarded to the undefeated, untied, and, up to now, unchallenged regular season champions, the Heritage Hawks. The ball was struck and curled lazily away from the near post where it would apparently be cleared. Seemingly out of the play, the tall center half for the attacking team raced towards the ball. In desperation, he left his feet, propelled by his force of will into a position parallel to the turf, projectile-like, with arms at his side. The opposing goalie, guided predominantly by intuition, dove to cover the targeted lower corner of the goal. The crowd held its breath; as contact between the player’s head and leather sphere occurred, time stood still.

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