Mike Fucito hated the Portland Timbers.
With a psychology degree from Harvard, the former Seattle Sounders striker probably can explain better than most the workings of an athlete’s mind and what makes him hate his club’s rival for no other reason than the uniform that they wear.
But Fucito’s explanation of his Timbers hatred is very simple. He hated them because that was the emotion he was required to feel.
“You’re supposed to hate the other team,” he says. “Those are games that you look forward to on the schedule every year. Just the history and the rivalry. It’s unique, and it’s very special, and to be a part of it, it’s a great thing.”
Now, Fucito is on the other side of the Cascadia rivalry as a reserve striker for Portland.
He still has a lot of friends with the Seattle club, having played there for two seasons before a brief stint with the Montreal Impact earlier this year. But, when the Timbers play host to the Sounders at 2 p.m. Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field, those friends will be wearing a different uniform.
“I keep in touch with a lot of those guys, and you want them to do well,” Fucito says. “But in this game, I want to come out on top so I have bragging rights.”
A squatty 5-9, 165-pounder, Fucito still looks like the varsity prep wrestler or the junior varsity hockey player that he once was in Massachusetts. When he is on an MLS pitch, though, Fucito is like a Jack-Russell terrier – fast, smart and totally unaware of how little he is.
“He’s a little tenacious striker who gets about,” Timbers coach John Spencer says. “He puts his body in there, even though he’s not a big guy. He brings an energy and enthusiasm to training every day. He’s a good player. That’s why we brought him here. And that’s why since he’s been here, teams have been on the phone asking if we’re interested in moving him on.”
Fucito’s ability on the pitch, combined with his work in the classroom at Brooks School, a college prep school in North Andover Mass., punched Fucito’s ticket to Harvard.
“I was always a hard worker in school,” Fucito says. “I’m not the smartest kid. But I worked hard and did well enough to put myself into a position, with soccer, to get myself in.”
Fucito, admitting that is “not the smartest kid,” sets up one of the jokes that the 26-year-old liberally peppers into his usual conversation.
“I’m probably the smartest that’s ever went there (Harvard),” Fucito says. “Clearly. I could have graduated in a year, but I decided to stay longer.”
Fucito finished his career with the Crimson ranked No. 4 all-time in goals scored (32) and assists (24). Fucito says attending Harvard gave him an atypical student- athlete experience.
“My athletic experience was probably a little bit different than other guys’, because sports aren’t the priority there,” he says.
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