In sports we often times forget that the players we are paying to watch day in and day out, were kids and fans once too. We all too often associate the player and the team he plays for as the end all be all, never really thinking about who the player may have been a fan of growing up, when who you rooted for was the most important thing in life. This 20th MLS season brings a special opportunity to the little boys at heart inside of a few lucky athletes, none giddier then the child at heart inside of 14 year MLS veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch of the Chicago Fire.
Jon Busch has a story very similar to most American boys, grew up watching baseball and going to games with his grandpa when he could, but the team he was watching was not just any team, it was the New York Yankees. When you are from Queens, NY, supporting the New York Yankees is more of a religion than a hobby and Yankee Stadium is the cathedral of this religion. During the summers, Jon’s grandfather would take him to church to see the heroes in pinstripes take on the best attempt from a familiar foe, and like all fans, Jon would look on in awe at the field, the players, and the stadium and think of how cool it would be to be on that field, just once.
Lucky for Jon, this Friday, when his Chicago Fire SC take on NYCFC, he is going to have that opportunity; to play on the field where childhood heroes like Derek Jeter, his all-time favorite player, Andy Pettitte , and Jorge Posada once laced up for his home town team, The New York Yankees.
As Stadiums would have it, Yankee Stadium will not be the biggest he has been in, as he recounted a time when he was on a USA squad for a world cup qualifier in Azteca Stadium. And Yankee Stadium probably won’t be the loudest stadium he has played in as he tips his cap to Portland for that saying, “Portland’s stadium is in a kind of pit so the noise never seems to escape.” But Yankee Stadium will be one of the most memorable places he will ever take the field.
As luck would have it, Jon is sitting on appearance number 299 (298 starts) in MLS. An Appearance in the match this Friday would make him only the fourth goalkeeper in MLS history to amass 300 game appearances in this history of the league. This is a mark that does not seem likely as Sean Johnson has been getting most of the first team minutes this season, but it is an opportunity that Jon acknowledges as being very cool. The little kid inside of all of us is rooting for Jon Busch this weekend, if not because of the incredibly unique opportunity that lies in front of him then because all of us have dreamed to be on the other side of wall, and Jon finally gets to do just that.
(image courtesy of chicago-fire.com)