I'm still wearing my Tacoma Stars trucker cap. It's confused my coworkers and baffled my wife. The hat is a pretty sweet trucker cap, if you're into that kind of thing. It's not a snapback, but a nifty velcro thing with the uniquely '80s Stars' yellow-orange-blue diamond print running along it.
That's kind of like the match - uniquely '80s with a yellow-orange-blue diamond print.
Friday night's match was a blast. There were about 1,700 people at the ShoWare Center in Kent watching Tacoma trounce the Turlock Express. Throughout the evening we saw smoke effects, dancing soccer-playing mascots, '70s & '80s pop-rock hits, a round of foot thunder, wall passes, a pulled keeper and an 8-2 win.
The pace of action is everything you would expect from indoor soccer, especially when the talents include so many that have played professionally both indoor and out. Nifty footwork and passing is necessary, because the game is completely fluid. There is an attack and defend, the ball only stopping for rarely called fouls and a few times when it popped over the walls.
Tacoma Stars SC put on a great show. They accept that they are not the Sounders with a massive draw. There is an awareness that they are replanting the seeds for a sport that many in the area once flocked to the Tacoma Dome to enjoy.
ShoWare Center does not feel small time, but it does feel small. The crowds do not yet justify every concession stand to be open, and that's OK. The arena feels right. Whereas Starfire often feels like a high school stadium hosting pro events, ShoWare Center felt like a miniature Key Arena - professionally small.
My seats were right behind relations to one of the players; they were knowledgeable and supportive. I sat in front of people who were enjoying their first indoor game in decades; they were boisterous and loud. A drum over one goal beat out unknown rhythms while Cascadia, Tacoma, and Kent flags flew above a dozen+ supporters singing songs I do not yet know.
Those in the area for a few decades (or several in my case) remember Preki. Raphael Cox, Dan Antoniuk, Adam West, Mike Ramos, Troy Peterson, Joey Gjerston and the rest are not Preki. What they are is a bunch of men playing soccer, having fun and greeting every fan that wants to chat or get a signature after the games.
That's an amazing gift to those in attendance.
I'm going to remember Cox' header goal:
I'm going to remember the nostalgia, which is an odd phrase, but maybe the driving reason why I'll go back. I will also remember my 3 seconds of fame:
I'll also remember seeing hundreds of kids meet the players.
Hidden behind the smoke effects and the mascots, the 80s hits and the indoor walls is a wonderful thing - a couple hours of affordable family fun on Friday night, and memories of the 1980s when Pierce and King County were quite different than they are today.
It was a time of Almost Live, Preki and the Stars. The Stars are still here, with their trucker caps and soccer kits proudly claiming that they are the Tacoma Stars SC.