Seated and secured in a plane on the tarmac this past weekend, waiting for the U.S. Men’s National Team to board so we can head to Tampa, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How did this kid from Paterson, New Jersey (yep, where they filmed Lean on Me) end up here?”
Saturday night, we wrapped up the first Group B matches in Nashville before a record crowd. I was on the field most of both matches, managing rights holders there to capture and deliver all the drama and intensity of this tournament to soccer fans here in the states and around the world.
I was a few feet away from the net when Dom Dwyer struck the first and only goal for the U.S. against Panama. Even closer to the spirited celebration by early Group B leaders Martinique, after their second tally essentially sealed the victory against Nicaragua.
But best of all was the talented team of dedicated professionals I was privileged to work beside, whose sole aim was to put on a first-class international tournament and deliver an unforgettable evening of soccer for the 42,662 fans in attendance.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Nashville is a soccer city, and one that is about to get its own pro club. Nashville SC is preparing for a 2018 USL debut, with eyes on MLS in the future. Many of their staff were on hand working the match – some of their PDL players even served as photo marshals! If the success of Saturday night’s Gold Cup is any indication, Nashville SC is in for a wonderfully wild ride!
So back to the kid from Paterson… I love this game. I’ve played since the age of 8 when my jerseys were sponsored by local business Mennella’s Poultry in the Paterson Boys Club league. I could have never dreamed where life and my career would take me, but here I am through the grace of God and many wonderful people along the way. I am grateful and frankly a bit giddy that I get to work in this sport.
So as we started to taxi for takeoff, I began to wonder, “Where else will this kid from Paterson go?” The more important question is, who wants to join me on this journey? Let’s work together and see what we can achieve. I bet we’ll exceed our dreams once again!