I often ask myself why I pay good money to be put through moments of pure agony.
My team is winning by one goal, but then concedes and the elation of a high becomes the low of despair. But wait; a few moments later we reclaim the lead and then the final ten minutes, while holding onto the slimmest of advantages, feels like it lasts for hours. I leave the ground or rink or stadium, nerves shattered, with adrenaline pumping like crazy.
That’s why we pay good money to be put through moments of pure agony.
If you could bottle that emotion and sell it you would. Soccer clubs do the next best thing, offering the unpredictability of a game that ain’t over until it’s over.
That was certainly the case on Saturday in the North American Soccer League. At one point, with the Tampa Bay Rowdies leading the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-1, the Carolina RailHawks down by the same score to Minnesota United FC and the San Antonio Scorpions and FC Edmonton level at 1-1, the end was nigh for some teams and not for others.
The Rowdies needed Carolina to equalize to keep them in contention for the race to host Soccer Bowl, while the Silverbacks, despite losing, were still on top of the standings, about to be joined on points by Minnesota. The Scorpions were on their way out.
Then league top scorer Brian Shriver scored for the RailHawks with only four minutes remaining in the early game. Cue changes all around. With Carolina and Minnesota now level, the Rowdies were alive again, as were San Antonio since Atlanta were losing.
But before anyone could really celebrate and do the elimination math, the highs of fans from Tampa and Texas were pulled back down to earth only two minutes later. Poacher Shriver got to a near post corner first and flicked home a header that won the game for the RailHawks and fired them back to the top of the table.
Heartbreak for the Rowdies, who needed a draw from Carolina coupled with their win, and misery too for the Scorpions, who needed the RailHawks and United to draw unless they could find a late winner themselves.
And that’s how it stood, until just around the time the adrenaline levels had dropped back down to normal and the headlines and opening paragraphs of reports and releases were being written.
Cue Hans Denissen this time. The Dutch striker, whose time riding the bench seems to have turned him into a fierce offensive weapon, contorted his body to flash an injury time header against the post and then net his own rebound to grab a late 2-1 win for the Scorpions. And all of a sudden, San Antonio was celebrating and was back in contention for hosting Soccer Bowl.
If we could script it we would, but unpredictability and playing with emotions is much more fun.
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|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|