We were close enough in age that Mark and I did get to play on the same soccer teams, though not all the time (Mark played other sports too; I was a soccer-only guy). I played goalkeeper from about under-12 through high school. Mark was a blazing fast forward. Sadly, I don’t have many photos of us together on the field. The only photo I could find was this really terrible photo from my high school yearbook:
Mark didn’t get a lot of play time because, as I mentioned before, he wasn’t particularly good with ball control. But he was lightning fast. He and Mitch Johnson, who is standing on the back row in the photo, were reserve players brought in for very specific reasons. Mitch was a giant. If the other team had someone who was playing too aggressively, hitting our players, Mitch would get sent on and proceed to run their player over. That would end the aggression. And if the other team was playing an offsides trap, Mark would get sent on. His speed would unsettle them as he could outrun pretty much anyone on the field. It wasn’t what you’d call “elegant” soccer, but it was pretty effective. Basically we’d just kick long balls past the defense and watch Mark outrun everyone to get to the ball. I recall seeing him blow past defenders who had 20 and 30 foot head starts on him to get the ball. He wasn’t very effective at scoring, but it forced the other team’s defense to reconsider their tactics.
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