I loved this book, which starts with a boy’s first game, a World All-Star Game at the old Meadowlands. As the author ran through the rosters, it’s remarkable that this game was played in the United States 35 years ago. From there it’s the drips and drabs of soccer that American fans searched for until the internet and sports channels flooded the market.
I found myself nodding along as the author searched out the beautiful game, either in games near and far or games on TV (which were extremely rare in the 80s and early 90s). It’s here that the book really spoke to me as I found the game later in life and would search bars and bookstores and catalogs for anything that would add to my knowledge of the game.
The book is similar to Fever Pitch in that it covers a long period of time in short little bursts and explores how one fan’s life changes through the years. However it doesn’t focus on one particular team and is not as dark and brooding and introspective as Hornby’s work and the author gives numerous examples of the fellowship to be found in soccer. I have traveled to matches, I have written and podded about matches, and I have met so many great people along the way. In the same Agovino spends time mentioning the many friendships he has developed over the years.
The author brings different perspectives as a fan and writer. Clubs and national teams coming to America for a quick payday, Swiss club teams struggling to find success and relevance, MLS searching for an identity, the fever and passion and joy and disappointments that go into each World Cup. The game has changed a great deal, both at home and abroad, in the last 30 years and the book explores this.
This is the book I would write if a) I could write as well, b) I had as many interesting stories and c) I had the time. If you follow the beautiful game at all, read this book. If you have fallen out of love with soccer read this book.
For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.