Michael Lewis, wearing his favorite pandemic mask, holds his credential from the first MLS Cup in 1996 (Joy Rubenstein/FrontRowSoccer)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Friday, 5 p.m. ET passed, and I did not do something I had done for the past 24 years.

I did not put in for an MLS Cup credential.

Friday was the deadline for this year’s final, which will be played in Columbus Saturday, Dec. 12.

For the first time, I won’t attend an MLS Cup.

Yes, I have attended every final since the first championship match in 1996.

My reasons are plain and simple:

It’s life and death.

I kind of like living and don’t have any plans of dying in the not-too-distant future.

Unless you have been living in a cave or under a rock, you already know that the United State is entering a dangerous period, thanks to Thanksgiving travel, COVID-19 cases and deaths are expected to spike in the coming weeks. With Christmas just around the corner, it could be multiplied, especially with winter bearing down on the country.

Let’s face it, this is not the best time of the year to travel as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recently announced. Add the fact I am over 65 and have an underlying condition (Type 2 diabetes), which would make me a prime target for COVID-19.

I am not a gambler and I am not about to gamble with my life, even if it means snapping a unique streak.

It is for my health and my wife’s health (besides, she would kill me if I went, which would mean a fairly lengthy quarantine in the basement without much of my home office research material after I returned).

Seriously, with a limited number of media credentials available for the match, I didn’t want to put in for an application and deny the spot of another journalist who wanted to attend the game.

Much has been made of me being the last media member to attend every match. I am proud of that fact. Through the years I always figured it was important to cover the championship game of your top domestic league in your country. Way back in the day, I covered six consecutive Soccer Bowls during the heydays of the North American Soccer League (1977 to 1982).

I have to be true to myself.

Since March I have not attended a game, watching dozens of matches (seems like hundreds) on TV or streamed online.

Nothing can change my mind. My health and my wife’s health are more important than adding to a streak.

Besides, every streak is made to be broken. I knew this one would come to an end someday. It was sooner than later.

Saying that, I plan on attending the pre-MLS Cup video press conferences this week and watch and cover the game on Dec. 12.

Is it perfect?

No.

Is this the best way to protect my health and my family?

Yes.

Will I miss being there in person to feel the real atmosphere?

Definitely.

Does ending the streak hurt?

Well, yes. I am sad, but I have another streak going, years that I am alive, and I plan to extend that for a few more decades. If it meant making the sacrifice of not attending MLS Cup, then it will be worth it.

There are millions of people in this country that are suffering much more than someone who isn’t going to attend a championship soccer game.

There are people who have died or are dying from COVID-19 and others who are battling it. There are others who are trying to figure out how they’re going to feed their family because they lost their job due to the pandemic and yet others who are the cusp of losing their homes or apartments.

For everyone’s sake, I just hope the pandemic will be over sooner than later so we can discover whatever our new normal will be.

Looking forward to attending the next MLS Cup in 2021.

Let’s enjoy this year’s final.

And to everyone, stay safe and healthy!

Here is a related story you might be interested in:

OFFSIDE REMARKS: Looking back at 24 personal MLS Cups since 1996