Sandy • The alarm clock will most certainly be set Sunday morning in Houston. Just in case. Just to be sure.
It may not be needed, though, because Paul Dalglish may not sleep all that well. He may be too nervous.
RSL at Houston DynamoSunday, 5 p.m.
TV » CW30
RSL at Houston DynamoSunday, 5 p.m.
TV » CW30
While Houston is a place the Real Salt Lake assistant coach knows quite well — he starred there as a player for the Dynamo — his heart will be in Liverpool. Dalglish will turn the TV on and settle in to watch the team he grew up around, the club he worshipped and witnessed winning FA Cup trophies and English First Division titles, the highest division of English soccer until the Premier League was created in 1992. The last time Liverpool won a league title was 1990. Now Liverpool may end that streak, and Dalglish wouldn’t miss it for the world.
He can’t. Liverpool FC is his obsession.
"When you grow up in England, there’s no baseball, there’s no football, there’s no basketball, there’s nothing to dilute the love for your team," Dalglish said. "I’ve been in Texas for most of my time in America and on Sunday, people socialize with church, they do church activities, and that’s the way of socializing, whereas in England, going to the game is your way of socializing."
Dalglish is a Red because his father Kenny is arguably one of the most famous Liverpool team members in club history. Kenny Dalglish won titles galore during his playing days and eventually as the club’s manager. In his first year leading the team during the 1985-1986 season, Liverpool won a double — securing both the First Division title and the FA Cup. Under Dalglish’s father, Liverpool dominated throughout the rest of the ’80s, but there has been a drought has reached 24 years since that last title.
That all could change on Sunday. The Reds close out their Premier League schedule at home against Newcastle United, trailing Manchester City by two points at the top of the table. With a Liverpool win and a City loss to West Ham on Sunday, Dalglish would certainly be speed-dialing his dad — now retired — to bond once again in celebration.
It shouldn’t have been this difficult, really. Liverpool had the EPL championship virtually in its grasp, but fell to Chelsea 2-0 at home on April 27, then collapsed in the final 10 minutes of what wound up a 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace on Monday — putting Man City two points clear going into the final weekend of the season.
This is known as "regressing to form’’ among title-starved Liverpool fans, but Dalglish is fond of perspective.
"Never in my wildest dreams’’ did the RSL assistant say he saw this kind of season coming. Just being in the championship chase, he noted, will guarantee a spot in next year’s UEFA Champions League tournament. Regardless of what happens, there’s still much to enjoy.
"I’ve tried to never place too much importance on the past and never tried to predict the future, because then, you don’t live in the present," Dalglish said. "If you want to achieve something in the future, then you’ve got to make sure you’re successful in the present. So most of my attention is on the now, making sure [RSL] is successful today and that’s the same with Liverpool. When I’m watching Liverpool, I just try and watch every game — I don’t worry about what’s in the future."
Dalglish admits he was spoiled as a young soccer fan. Liverpool won something every year while he watched his dad lead the club. Even with the decades-long drought, that tradition and expectation has never really gone away. So, to see manager Brendan Rogers, superstars Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard, and a young core of Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho and Raheem Sterling contend once again has been electrifying.
"I know younger generations of Liverpool fans got this year to feel what we took for granted back in those days," Dalglish said.
An interesting weekend awaits Paul Dalglish. Beyond his Liverpool allegience is his connection to the Dynamo, which he won back-to-back MLS Cups with in 2006-07. Houston is where Dalglish met his wife, and where his two children were born.
But his focus Sunday will be on beating his old team, and ensuring Real Salt Lake continues its unbeaten start to the 2014 season.
Liverpool is never very far away, however.
"It’s like people sometimes play golf for a hobby or play tennis or go fishing, I watch Liverpool," Dalglish said. "That’s my hobby. Soccer is my hobby. It’s my life. It’s my everything."
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