I didn’t just watch set pieces and gasp-worthy stuff. If the ball went out or play paused, I’d turn to watch the other game. Simultaneous goals got me dizzy a couple times, and I saw some spooky similarities. In one pair of games, a number seven on each field wore sunglasses. I haven’t watched youth soccer lately, but is this common? One kid looked like a kid I know from Chivas, but he was from Trebol. He wore prescription glasses before his game and shades on the field. The midfielder in the other game had more stylish specs, possibly prescription or maybe from 7-Eleven.

My lesson was a surprise arrived at from two directions. First, I found myself focusing on a lousy player like Austin Powers fixating on a mole. It took effort to avert my eyes and see what really mattered.

Rapids youth academy senior director Brian Crookham explained what he’s learned about tryouts like this over the years.

“You gotta get to the meat of the group fast,” Crookham said. “First you say, here’s someone we know is clean enough to be in [interviewer’s note: “clean” means technically proficient, not hygienically acceptable]. Here’s someone we know will never have a chance. And then you concentrate on the middle group because that’s where you find the little subtleties that might separate them from the next guy on the list.”

My second route to the lesson followed the path of a fan. I looked close for the sparkle at first, focusing on particular players with the ball.

So what did I learn?

Don’t be a crow, and don’t be a buzzard. Don’t let the bright, shiny objects fool you, and minimize your eyes on offal.

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