Growing up in the 1970s, I was caught up in a wave of soccer mania.

I played the game, I went to camps and I even watched matches on television during the rare times they were broadcast.

My best and worst sports memories happened right on the soccer field.

Somewhere, collecting dust, probably down in my parent's basement, is a trophy I won as a member of the 13-14-year-old Upper Makefield League Champions in Buck's County, Pa.

We, the Newtown First National Bank squad, lost to George's Canoe Rental early in the season for our only defeat of the year.

Almost like it was scripted, we met them again in the title game. George's Canoe Rental had lost a couple of times during the season, and we only needed a win or tie the game to claim the championship.

There was no overtime and the game ended in a 1-1 draw, giving us the title.

After more than 30 years, things have gone a little bit fuzzy, but I do remember two things, the game was played on Sunday, and most of my friends were on the George's Canoe Rental team, giving me more incentive to win the game.

I also remember sitting through church and Sunday school that day was impossible. My mind kept drifting to what was going to take place on the cool and crisp afternoon.

We celebrated the victorywith a trip to a local pizza establishment.

My worst soccer moment came a few years later when my family had moved to Louisville Ky.

Being the new kid on the block, I was desperate to make new friends at St. Francis, the junior high school I attended. I joined the school's soccer team and was ready to enjoy more soccer success.

Of course, I eventually made friends, but it took awhile, especially with my new teammates after I blew a wide-open shot that should have been an easy goal, and probably would have given us a win against a team that was one of rivals.

One of my teammates feed me a perfect pass and I should have caught up to it. The goakeeper was out of position, and I could have easily blast it past him and into the back of the net.

My lack of speed cost me a chance to be a soccer hero, at least for the day since I couldn't catch up with the give-and-go pass.

It took me awhile to live that one down.

As a kid, I grew up in awe of what Pele could do with a soccer ball. He was the Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky of his sport.

When he came to the New York Cosmos, he was supposed to put the game on the map in the United States.

In one way he did the trick. Generations of young boys and girls have played soccer in the 30 years since Pele worked his magic.

Soccer has basic exploded on the youth level.

More fans could have been created this week thanks to the United State's 2-0 victory over Spain in the Confederation Cup.

Admittedly, I'm not an expert on international soccer scene, but friends who follow it closely, tell me this is one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Right up there with the United State's hockey team beating the former Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics.

I bet most of sports fans in the United States have never even heard of Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, the two guys who scored goals against Spain, but they are now heroes.

Will soccer ever surpass football, baseball and basketball in the minds of the obsessed sports fan in the United States?

Probably not, but maybe, for American soccer fanatics, it's a start.

(Doug Gorman is sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at