Best of 2000: Best Place To Play Pickup Soccer

Pantoja Park
Between Kettner and State on
G Street
Lunch Hour, Monday through Thursday

This game has been going on for over nine years. The players come and go, but the game goes on. The playing area is not huge, but it's ample, though you do have to play around a few trees and the occasional bum who won't wake up and move out of the way. The group gathers at 12:10 and plays until 1:00. Games range from three-on-three to ten-on-ten, though six-on-six seems the average. Player skill varies from excellent to absolute beginner. The latter, by the way, is welcomed and encouraged, but skilled, experienced players make up the bulk of the regulars. The law-enforcement community is heavily represented: three county marshals and three assistant D.A.s from the courthouses on Broadway play along with two federal prosecutors. Several other lawyers, a graphic designer, a writer, a few building engineers, and a couple of park-maintenance workers round out the group of regulars. Most walk or ride bikes to the park. A few drive in from as far away as La Jolla. The play is spirited, even aggressive at times, but tempers never flare.

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