Matty Lawrence describes his ‘flying start’ to the MLS 2018 season that kicks off next week. Our intrepid reporter is preparing for another season commentating for Sporting KC.
The Matty Lawrence Column: MLS 2018 Pre-Season Is Here
Fasten Your Seat Belts!
With MLS 2018 rapidly approaching it is time for us color commentators to begin our own pre-season preparations and look forward to another season of cancelled flights, lost luggage and early morning wake up calls.
Unbeknown to me, I would be cramming a year’s worth of drama into one cross country trip this week from my home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to Tucson, Arizona to meet up with Sporting Kansas City. It was a trip that would also include an unplanned and most unwelcome amusement park ride experienced at just over thirty thousand feet.
What started with the usual fumbling for the snooze button at 3.30am, followed by a brief, uneventful cab ride to La Guardia Airport and a deft little body swerve through security, my journey slowly turned into a nightmare of epic proportions as it begrudgingly progressed.
LGA to Dallas Fort-Worth was an absolute dream: 30 minutes early to touch down and easily enough time to traverse my way through the gargantuan monolith that is DFW. Feisty, little devil that it is, the Skylink monorail whisked me headlong into Terminal C for the second leg of my airborne journey: DFW into Tucson.
I currently possess a massive penchant for mozzarella sticks, so with time to spare, there was only one destination for my desired pre-flight indulgence: TGI Friday’s. I ordered the sticks, tacked on a few chicken strips and prayed to the old chap above that my arteries wouldn’t clog for at least another couple of years. It quickly became apparent I was in Texas by observing the size of everything, from meal portions to frozen margaritas, to the airport itself and, of course, the people.
So far so good, until someone at the bar pulled out a bloody harmonica just as most of us patrons were tucking in to our high calorie breakfast! Oh, how I wish I was making this up. Chance would be a fine thing. I inhaled my food, threw down my money and rushed off in search of peace and Tums.
Worse was to follow when I received word that my poor, beleaguered colleagues had boarded their plane in Kansas City in an ill-advised attempt to beat an on rushing ice-storm. The sorry devils ended up plane bound on the runway for a good (bad) couple of hours.
So, what does yours truly decide to do? Yep, you guessed it, I ribbed them mercilessly through text messages with little sympathy or forethought for my own personal travails ahead. No sooner had my petty bout of schadenfreude subsided, when my phone sprang into life and informed me of a 70 minute delay to my own flight!
“Karma, you are one sorry son-of-a-bitch,” I repeated to myself approximately a thousand times as I sat on the Dallas runway.
Thank goodness for my early start and heavy meal that morning, as I was able to promptly fall asleep. Unfortunately I awoke an hour later in the same position (bodily and on the same piece of tarmac), but with added drool. The captain calmly informed us that we had at least another hour to wait due to the volume of traffic and the deluge of thunderstorms in the area. Eventually, he announced that we were ready to take off. I almost instantly regretted his decision, however.
Let’s just say it was lucky that I packed extra underpants in my carry on, or I’d be the subject of one of those viral videos, like the one doing the rounds of the lady drying her briefs underneath the vents of the plane.
Never one for roller coasters myself, this trip proved to be Six Flags at its very worst – times six. At one stage we plunged what felt like a few thousand feet, causing me to grab instinctively for the two things closest: one arm rest and one bicep of the unfortunate woman sat next to me. Luckily, she did virtually the same thing as we both looked at each other, exclaiming, “oh, shit!”
The rest of the flight was a mixture of heart palpitations, sweat, fear and white knuckles. Sometime in the next century we landed in Tucson. At last, I had made it to pre-season camp, and for once I was weighing in at slightly under my fighting weight due to a variety of weight loss procedures that occurred on the afore-mentioned flight.
As I write, I’m a couple of days in and one game broadcast down, and I’m sorry to report that my first commentary of the pre-season ended in a 2-1 defeat for Sporting KC. I would hasten to add, however, that the average age of the team on the field facing the New England Revolution was just under 22 years old including seven of the starting XI with no MLS experience.
The objective was obviously to give younger players some match experience. With the average age of the starting midfield triumvirate not even hitting 18, the future of Sporting KC is certainly bright. More training sessions and minutes on the park lie ahead for the Sporting KC squad before the season opener on March 4 against NYCFC.
Before then, I need to find the laundry room.