20230426_RSL_OpenCup-177 Al Powers

At a RSL game the other weekend, I saw this little girl in the stands at America First Field with my jersey on. I was looking at her thinking, ‘I don’t remember her face, so I don’t think I gave it to her’ and then I realized, her parents or someone must have bought it for her. 

They must have bought my jersey.

That was just a super cool moment. It’s something that I know I can’t take for granted, because I was that exact kid in the stands not long ago.

So now when I see them asking for my jersey or asking for a signature, it’s like, of course I’m going to go over and do what I can. It’s little things like that that keep me going. 

There was even this guy, I was signing something of his and he asked me how old I was, and I’m like 18, and he’s like, no way man, me too. 

I didn’t even know how to respond. 

Because when you’re playing in these big MLS games, you’re not an 18-year-old anymore, you’re a grown-ass man and you have to play like it.

After my debut against Columbus back in April when we lost by four goals, I totally understood that we really needed the three points against Charlotte at home in the following game. 

The decision was that we were going to lean back on experience and go back with Zac and that I would go get some more minutes with the Monarchs. I wasn't frustrated or anything like that. It was good to go get some Monarchs minutes. 

Zac has been super helpful too, making sure I’m ready for each upcoming week so I wanted to do the same thing for him, to help him be ready for whatever comes next. 

After a game like Columbus the worst thing to do is not play because otherwise you're just nervous the entire time waiting for that next opportunity. You’ve gotta get back out there. 

So I go to the Monarchs, and we lose 4-0 again. 

You put in all this effort, and then have back-to-back games like that. It's like, f-ck man, this is rough. 

I just had to know that I couldn’t do anything about those last two games, the only thing I could do was look forward. 

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but at the end of the day, I’m doing exactly what I love to do. 

There’s gonna be games for the next 10 years that I’m going to come home from thinking like “what was I doing,” but that’s part of the deal. I might screw up but after the game ends, there’s nothing I can do about it. As long as I go out there and give it everything I had, I can feel okay about it. 

Everyone has those days. 

After games, I get back home and just relax. Don’t think about soccer for a while.

I’ll go get food, go golfing with the guys, go for a drive or just go for a walk. For food, I love Cafe Rio. Like Cafe Rio is my favorite place ever. I’ll usually go with a burrito or a salad and then a Horchata, because I love their Horchata. 

It’s funny, back at the Academy, Bode [Hidalgo] would always see me standing outside near the parking lot during meals and come over and be like “what are you doing” and I’d be waiting for Uber Eats to drop off my Cafe Rio. It’s funny stuff like that I remember. 

I also just got a dog, a black lab puppy named Dale. He can be such a pain in my ass sometimes but I love him. It’s nice to have more things to worry about than just yourself. Like making sure I’m back home at a certain time or not staying out super long at golf (I’m terrible at golf by the way). It’s been good to have a little bit more responsibility. 

This stuff kind of just helps me turn the page to the next game. 

After those back to back 4-0 losses, I played with the Monarchs again and this time we got a shutout. It was a good feeling to help the team, and in that game it’s not like I had to do too much in particular but even just working on commanding the box and focusing on my footwork is good. And it was fun. 

I think when I'm having fun and I'm just relaxed, it's a lot easier for me to play like myself. 

After that match it helped me feel like,’okay cool, we’re all good, bring on what’s next.’ 

And that was our first Open Cup game against the Las Vegas Lights. 

I’m from the Las Vegas area, and I was at the first ever Lights game at Cashman field when I was 12. Coming back to play there was wild.

It was kind of full circle in a way, it felt like so long since I’d been back there.

It was special because I had like 25-30 people at that game, friends and family that I don’t even see when I go back home to visit because everyone’s schedule is so crazy. There were also some of my coaches from my Club team in Nevada, so it was awesome for them to see me there.

I could see everyone from the field, and knew exactly where they were.

On the field, the Lights are a whole different world, they’re playing music during the game, there’s inflatable pools around the pitch, there’s llamas, you’re looking around like, “what the f-ck is going on, this makes zero sense.” 

It’s all over the place, but that’s just part of the Open Cup, right? Every game is a grind and brings something different.

Las Vegas was a good game to get my confidence back up. It was my first game starting with RSL since Columbus so I went in there thinking, ‘I’m gonna play it simple, go out there and do what I need to do, I don’t need to do anything special, I just need to help the team win.’

Luckily, 120 minutes later we got the win in front of my friends and family.

I think that game helped propel me but also all of us as a team. Afterwards we knew we could go into tough situations like that and grind it out. We knew that wasn’t going to be an easy game but getting that win I think has helped shape our mentality going forward. 

After the game ended, even if it was for just 10 minutes, it was super nice to go over to the stands and see everyone at Cashman.

At that first ever Las Vegas Lights game I went to, I brought this 2014 USA World Cup jersey and I just wanted to get something signed so that’s what the players signed. I was just an excited kid. That’s something I remember, you know?

And then here I am again, 18 years old at the Lights game as we've just advanced in the Open Cup.

I’m at the same place but this time, I’m signing their jerseys. 

These experiences have just made me feel very grateful, humble, hungry and wanting to learn more. Here’s to that.