Soccer has always provided me with the opportunity to travel and see places that I never would have seen without the sport. This year has helped me check two more desired destinations off of my "Places to check out before I check out" list. These two were pretty high on my list of places to see.
I have always seen Monte Carlo as my dream retirement destination. The mystique of the place has always drawn me. First class French football at Monaco, the casino and the cuisine were just a few of the selling points that I used in my mind to create this aura of perfection. What could be better than PSG vs. Monaco, a filet and cab, followed up by the squandering of my savings at the Roulette wheel?
Monte Carlo is not cheap. You don't really have to tip but who can after spending twelve Euros on a beer? Not that I drink, but I always imagined that in my later years I would need something to numb my mind at recollections of MLS Cup 1999! The food, on the other hand, was worth the steep price. Mind you, I'm not afraid of a rare steak. The filet I had was as good a cut of steak as I have ever eaten. Pros and cons come with every city and Monte Carlo was, alas, no different.
I have also always had big dreams of Nashville. It probably has something to do with my addiction to "Nashville Star" (the "American Idol" of country music) and the entire country music scene. Since I live in Los Angeles, I've been to the Troubador, The Viper Room, Whiskey A Go-Go and the Rainbow Room for great rock shows. At the other end of the spectrum, however, is Nashville, another one of my dream destinations. For a kid who grew up in Southern Virginia, I'd be lying if I said I'd never thought of moving to Nashville to be the next George Strait. It was always in this order: Striker, Goalkeeper, and Rock Star/Country Legend.
Nashville was really a great experience. The event (Tecos vs. L.A. on Tuesday) was well organized. A tie, although not a win, was hotly contested and exciting for the 12,000 spectators who came out. I almost got an opportunity to see Merle Haggard at the Grand Ole Opry. Nashville could definitely be a city for expansion in Major League Soccer.
The two cities showed two very different cultures, but both had very great character. The Continental European flair and the down home country feel lend two helping hands to the emerging American game. There are joys off the field that come with soccer and I look forward to more of them.
Take care and we'll see you next week.
Views and opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.