Being born in the United States in the late 80’s and growing up through the 90’s, I was exposed to the great “resurgence” of “soccer” in America. With the World Cup here in 1994 and the US women’s team winning their titles in ’91 and ’99, soccer began to get massive exposure here in the States, and even though I’m from Indiana, a state known for it’s love of basketball, the first organized sport I ever played was soccer at the age of 6.
Unfortunately it wasn’t something I seriously stuck to, quitting before high school, and I definitely didn’t follow the professional game or even know of any teams outside of the MLS until one day someone in school had a Manchester United jersey.
Acquiring a bit more information I was informed that they and Arsenal were the two best clubs in England (mind you, it was about 2004), and I was given the understanding that they were big rivals. From then on I decided that I would be a fan of Man United. From that point anytime someone brought up soccer that’s what I told them, “I like Man U,” even though I didn’t really know anything about the team and, at the time, failed to even realize that they had dominated the Premier League since its inception.
Eventually, from watching the World Cup in 2006, I had decided that I thought Wayne Rooney was cool, and since he was a United player it gave me even more reason for liking my team. So that was that. I had a team that was good with a player I liked, and my gradual interest slowly increased as I started watching the occasional game more and more often.
Then suddenly, as if a bomb went off in my in my world of soccer fandom, the 2010 World Cup came and I supported my country like never before! I felt connected with every other US soccer fan. We struggled together. We cheered together and we cried together when we were eventually knocked out after a half decent run in the competition, compared to 2006, and it was that feeling of togetherness I had received that spurred me on.
So I had decided to closely follow the Premier league that year. Now at this point, from playing FIFA, I knew that there were lower leagues in English football, but embarrassingly enough what I hadn’t realized, until before the start of the 2010/11 season, was that a promotion/relegation system even existed. This was a completely foreign concept. As soon as it was explained to me by my younger brother, who incidentally stuck with soccer and had become a Chelsea fan, this concept shook the very foundation of what it meant to enjoy Premier League soccer for me. Realizing that essentially the same team won every year and that the three worst teams got knocked out of the league, I began to notice that the supporters of the teams at the bottom of the league table really had something to lose.