I sat on my couch soon after the United States’ loss to Ghana in the World Cup, wondering what to do next. Despite knowing little to nothing about football, I had devoted myself completely to the team’s emotional World Cup run, and I couldn’t just wait for Brazil in four years. So I opened up my laptop and pulled up the 2009-10 Premier League table, intent on finding a team. Little did I know that this near-random picking of a name would have a large impact on the next nine months of my life.
I wanted to avoid the “Big Three” because that would make me a bandwagoner; Manchester City seemed too much like the New York Yankees so they were out. However, I at least wanted a team that would be on TV occasionally and fight for a Champions League spot, so my choices came down to Liverpool, Everton, and Tottenham. From there I eliminated Liverpool (too strange a situation) and was left with Everton and Tottenham. Not knowing anyone outside World Cup players, I chose Everton due to having more people I knew and liked, such as Tim Howard, Yakubu, Tim Cahill, and, ironically, Steven Pienaar.
From there my focus turned to learning as much as I could about the club and its players. After reading countless articles about the team, I went into the opener at Blackburn confident in our chances to challenge for the Champions League. As August turned to September without a league win, these hopes started to be revised to Europa League qualification. But a strange thing happened as I continued to watch every minute of these disappointing results: I became extremely loyal to Everton. Their pain was my pain, but their joy was also mine. I was practically delirious at the comeback draw against Man United and the dominating 2-0 win over Liverpool. Despite not knowing anyone from either the red or blue side of Liverpool, I hate Liverpool with a passion and to take four points from them has been one of the highlights of the season.
I have even become familiar with much of Everton’s history. Despite the fact that I had not even been born, much less become an Everton supporter, I’m somewhat annoyed that England’s European ban denied Everton’s chance at the European Cup title. Multiple viewings of Everton’s penalty kicks win over Man United at Wembley (2008-09 FA Cup semifinal) gave me even more of an appreciation of the team’s epic win over Chelsea.