At almost every game I attend, there's a decision to be made: where to watch the game from.
I had two options on Sunday night at StubHub Center in Carson, CA: the press box high above the center line or taking pictures from one of the end lines. Despite the creature comforts of the press box, I had rented a lens I'd never used before and I wasn't going to miss any chance to use it.
I've not been taking sports photos for too long -- about two years. During that time, I've been able to take-in college and professional sports from a perspective not many get to experience. Soccer is not an exception.
Being directly adjacent to a soccer pitch, certain things about the sport itself snap immediately into focus. Players are smaller and faster than they look on TV. They are also infinitely more impressive in their athleticism, precision, and in their consistent feats of soccer awesomeness.
Behind the end line, a photographer can hear defenders yell at each other, attackers call for crosses, and keepers direct traffic. When I watch soccer on television, I often take for granted the machine-like precision that professional footballers display, especially defenders. When I see and hear the chaos in the 18-yard box up-close, a realization dawns on me that a 1-0 match is the result of 22 men maintaining order on a pitch that is an unflinching holy mess of chaos.
Behind the end line, one also realizes that players on the pitch cannot possibly see the game like we see it from the stands. Unlike FIFA14, the game unwinds on a flat plane from the players' perspective. The ability to weight a ball, lead an attacker into an open space, or understand what opposing players are coming from where is an amazing skill in itself. I imagine it's the same skill an NFL quarterback needs, the key difference being that players
When given the choice between the bird's eye view and shooting a game from the sidelines, I will almost always take the photographer's perch, wherever it may be for a particular sport. Sometimes I wonder if a focus on getting a great photo hinders my writing, or vice-versa. It definitely hinders the timeliness of both.
There are moments when timeliness don't matter though. When Tesho, Blas, and Fabian are celebrating the game-winning goal five feet in front of you and you can hear exactly what they're saying to one another as they share a celebratory hug. Well I guess that's what it's all about.
By the Numbers:
27,000 - Capacity of StubHub Center.
3,951 - The reported attendance on Sunday night.
2,129 - Photos I actually took on Sunday night.
1,349 - Photos I immediately deleted on first glance.
103 - Photos I chose to include in this gallery. I know it's a ridiculous number, but hopefully you enjoy them.
33 - Points Dallas has after their Sunday night win -- good for third place.
4 1/2 - Hours of driving each way from my house to StubHub Center.
4 - Hours of sleep I still managed on Sunday night.
4 - Number of goals by Tesho Akindele this season.
2 - Number of cameras I used to take all 2100-plus photos.
1 - Photo gallery. Hope you enjoy it.
Photos by Owen Main