Imagine you’re a professional soccer player, and you’re on the road for what is easily at that point the biggest game of your season, and maybe your career.
And, amongst everything you remembered to pack, you forgot maybe the most important thing: your boots.
That was Kalen Ryden – then of Real Monarchs SLC – ahead of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs against Phoenix Rising FC.
Thankfully for Ryden, Jack Blake had his back.
“I had to wear Jack’s boots that game,” Ryden told the USL’s Kelsi Steele in the premiere episode of a new show, titled “Mates”, that saw the two former Monarchs teammates play games, share stories and also produce plenty of laughs about the friendship they built as teammates in Utah.
“He probably had one of the best games of the season in my boots,” Blake said of the 2-1 victory that helped Real on its way to claiming the Championship’s title last season.
“Yeah, but I never wore them after that, and I scored the next game, so…” Ryden immediately shot back, both laughing.
“And they weren’t even the right size,” added Ryden. “Jack and I don’t wear the same shoe size [editor’s note: Blake wears a size 10, Ryden prefers a 9½], but it was the closest to what I wore and was like the same style of shoe, so I was like, ‘I gotta wear these.’ They didn’t fit me that great, but I had to play in them.”
Ryden’s offseason move to New Mexico United means that he and Blake aren’t teammates anymore, but the bond – and shared sense of humor – between the two clearly remains unbroken.