Bay United FC, R.I.P.

Jason, looking pained, for some reason. We hadn't even started the post-game drinking yet!

Matthew and I consider yet another humiliating loss, probably. Now to the bar!

I was a late-comer to soccer. In what is now obviously the most tragic irony ever to befall me, I did not like nor understand The Beautiful Game in 1994 when the U.S. hosted its first World Cup. The fact that Spain played its matches a mere 15 blocks east of my house on Capitol Hill and I didn't bother to even notice now haunts my soccer-obsessed dreams. Yes, it was not until when I moved to Spain in 1996 that I came to fully appreciate the world's most popular sport.

When I returned to the U.S. and moved to San Francisco in January of 1997, I decided that it might be cool to actually learn to play the game. I grew up with football, baseball, and -- god help me -- basketball, so I knew less than nothing about how to kick a soccer ball properly. My best friend, Jason, had played in high school, so he and I went to a park near my house in Oakland and he showed me the ropes.

Soon after, Jason, our great friend Matthew (a rugby player from Engerland), and I got the bright idea to form a rec league team and compete in the Golden Gate Soccer League, which was co-ed and seemed like a good way to meet women.

With that noble goal in mind, I rounded up some coworkers and as many of our friends who would risk embarassment on the pitch and we were off. We dubbed ourselves Bay United FC, on the count of having players from all five areas of the S.F. Bay Area (S.F., Oakland, Alameda, Emeryville, and Berkeley).

I found a place to get some snazzy jerseys made up, designed a bitchin' logo, and voilá! We were a team. One problem: we sucked.

Turns out almost none of us knew how to really play soccer well, and we were soundly beaten in match after match. No matter, the real purpose of the team was the after-game happy hours. There we sat as a team, drinking brews, eating fish and chips, and laughing at all of our mistakes while celebrating any triumphs (like keeping the game close or scoring a goal). Everyone looked forward to each Sunday's game, and we all formed a close bond that I'll always remember fondly.

But here's where the storybook ending comes in. In the league, every team made the playoffs, so we were in as well. We came into the opening playoff game defeated, as in the opposite of undefeated. We hadn't won a single game the entire season and were determined to finally pull one out. As fate (and the tournament bracket) would have it, we were playing the top-seeded team (we were, of course, the lowest seed).

The game was hard-fought throughout, and we ended regulation in a 0-0 tie. Since this was the playoffs, we had to have a winner, so to overtime we went. The overtime worked in a way whereby each team lost a player after so many minutes of not scoring and we took it down to three on three. That's when our star forward, a blonde accountant (who lead a quite unaccountant-like life on the weekends), scored the goal that sent us into the next round and sent the top seeds home to their mommies.

I felt like I had just won the World Cup.

We lost the next playoff game, not that it mattered by then. The team carried on in various incarnations with a multitude of players (although the core group of Matthew, Jason, and I were always there) until around 2001, when we finally decided to call it quits.

When I'm watching the World Cup in two weeks with a brew in hand, I, for one, will remember the Bay United FC and toast to my teammates. We had a hell of a time.


Old friends visit!

Originally uploaded by Xose.
This weekend we were very happy to play host to some good friends from our days in San Francisco, Jen and Gabe.

Jen was in town for a book expo in the D.C. Convention Center, so they made the trek up to Silver Spring on Metro for a cookout in the back yard. Sylvia was excited to meet them, and Jenny and I were very psyched to hang out with such fun people again.

I worked with Jen at CMP while in S.F., and she and Gabe made the cross-country move about a year before Jenny and I did (we're all part of the great exodus of post-dot-com talent from the ultra-expensive Bay Area).

We had fun catching up and marveling at how much we know about each others' recent lives due to reading each other's blogs. It's amazing that the Internet allows you to keep up with family and friends all over the world. In my opinion, this is one of the best things about the Internet: the capability to bring people together, even if they are far apart geographically.

Anyway, we had a great time with Gabe and Jen, and hope to see them again soon! Thanks for coming down guys!