You know time is running out. You have one last chance to prove yourself.
The designated man lowers his hand and your run begins. Brushing your way through a bevy of defenders you watch the ball curl into your path. Your heart, having already given up trying to convince you to stop this charade, is trying its’ best to break through your chest. Defenders tug at your shirt as if they were gravity’s greatest ally. It takes every ounce of energy to break free, but your effort is not fruitless. Released from the clutches of another contender, you launch yourself into the air, timing your jump perfectly.
This is it! This is the chance at glory you’ve dreamt of since you first kicked a soccer ball in your backyard. This is the opportunity to justify the hours of practice and the tryouts that led to nothing. This is it: the last chance.
Like the hammer of a pistol you cock your head, ready to fire the ball just out of range of your number one enemy. You, an experienced amateur of the beautiful game, don’t wait for the ball to hit you, but instead, attack the ball in mid-air, and as contact is made your hair whips across your face. Beads of sweat fly into the faces of defenders around you.
Now all you can do is hope. You hope your aim was true, that your strike was powerful and that those in command of the journey you hope to take, take notice of you.
The keeper has no chance – it’s an upper ninety goal. Gianluigi Buffon himself could do nothing but turn and watch the beautiful header rocket into back of the net.
But all around you there is no applause – no triumphant celebration. The extent of your exuberance is limited to a slightly raised fist. You thought it’d be different – much more comradery amongst your temporary teammates. But then you remember that they too are fighting for the same spots you are.
The game is over – your try-out is done. You recount your friends explaining the statistical improbability of making a professional team through an open try-out. The jokes about being Atlanta’s own Vince Papale echo inside your head as you walk toward the last drops of water on the sideline.
But as you lift your head and peer across the field, you find Carlos Bocanegra standing next to Darren Eales on the opposite sideline. Darren, with black sunglasses, arms folded and a glare shining off his forehead, is staring directly at you. You soon realize Carlos is doing the same. "Naw," you think. But before they turn away, Carlos does the unexpected – a bro nod.
While you may think this could only happen in a dream, your chance to actually live this could be more of a reality than you think. In fact, Atlanta United is inviting all aspiring adult professional soccer players 18 and older to register for the first in a series of regional professional identification try-outs on December 10th and 11th.
...and don't tell me that mental picture I just painted for you didn't just make your heart flutter with hope.
No prior professional playing experience is required - meaning you'll be up against the beer-belly guy with the super-short shorts looking to redeem himself from the penalty-kick in the high school soccer state finals.
For me, that makes the $150 well worth it. I mean, what's $150 when you have the once-in-a-lifetime chance at true soccer glory...