Monday, August 1, 2005

Hootie and the Blowfish, whose album "Looking for Lucky" will be released next week, has long been associated with sports fandom. Frontman Darius Rucker, as we all know, is such a baby that the Dolphins make him cry. But can the same be said about drummer Jim "Soni" Sonefeld -- a former NCAA Division I midfielder who grew up in Northern Virginia -- and his favorite soccer team, D.C. United?

I wouldn't say I have shed tears. If I have, they were tears of joy.

Why are you an MLS fan?

I still have pain stemming from the demise of the NASL, the North American Soccer League, because that was my dream, that was to be my future. I went to college in South Carolina with this dream of playing pro soccer. That league collapsed, and it wasn't until MLS and D.C. United that I had a spark of another dream, but the mullet had passed years earlier. My bad haircut had already gone away, and music was my next adventure.

You need a bad haircut to play soccer?

It certainly helps. I don't think it's a requirement. I've seen a few sporty ones, but boy, there's some nasty ones out there?

Any favorite soccer haircuts?

The mullet in general. [Marco] Etcheverry had a pretty special fro mullet. The bigger the better. Remember that show 'Full House' -- John Stamos, who played Jesse? He's probably the king of all mullets.

Have you liked D.C. United since the beginning?

Yeah, it was destiny actually. We were in Hong Kong, and I see a handful of mulleted, Adidas flip flop-wearing athletes coming out of the hotel we were staying in, and I'm like, 'Wait a second, this is a soccer team.' They looked at me and they were like, 'You're Hootie!' and I looked at them and I was like, 'You're D.C. United!' This was 1996 or 1997. And I was like, 'Sweeeeeet.' Every little bit of soccer I can get, I'm juiced, and they were Americans abroad looking for a little Americana. Needless to say, we partied a little bit.

And you've been a fan ever since?

You've got one team, you've got to stick with them the rest of your life. That's why I'm a hard-core Skins fan, a season ticket holder. We met these guys and it was like, 'Hey, this is gonna be my team.' You look for signs, you look for fate to intervene, and it was running into a team in the middle of Southeast Asia that chose it for me.

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