Monday, June 12, 2006

Heartbreaking Normalcy


If you read Brent's post earlier today (and shame on you if you didn't), you probably noticed the vague hinting of expectant disappointment. Sure, we love soccer. Sure, we're patriotic. Sure, we want our national team to do as well as they possibly can. But deep down, even as the studio crew proclaimed that the US could (or would) win their first match, I'm pretty sure most American soccer fans knew this was going to be tough.

And it was. The left side collapsed like an 8 year old's Lincoln logs and Jan Koller giggle of a header made it 1 nil. 'Gooch tried to clear it away and we got a shot to the nuts from Rosicky (metaphorically speaking) making it 2 nil. By the time the last goal went in my whole house was staring blankly at the screen trying to force the Yanks forward. Zombified by the dullness of Landon/Demarcus and co. there was nothing else to do but wait for the smack down to be over.

But then it all started again. Matt, his fiancee Julia and I all had lunch at a Ghanaian restaurant and for the first half all was going well, we could survive without a goal, just so long as Italy remained impotent. We could survive with Kingston trying to play midfield, just so long as the defense kept slicing out balls with a veterinarian's precision. But a savvy play off the corner chilled the whole crowds spirits, and the Italian sensibility of "Hey! I go do what you want, I'm going to stand in the backfield and smoke and just wait to stop you outside the box" deadened a lot of real hope. And when it seemed that a foul in the area would bring on a PK, Ghana didn't get it. And when it seemed like another foul in the area would bring on another PK, Ghana still didn't get it. And while Africans and scruffy Americans were muttering about Juventus and match fixing Italy got another goal and the untrained eye saw the cream rising above the chaff.

It was a heartbreaking day. Especially for those of us romantics who dream of a New Soccer World Order. A place where Asia and Africa and North America can whip Europe and South America on any given day. A place where Iranians and Tobaggoans and Ghanaians and Ivorians and Australians and yes, yes, even Americans can reach out and nearly grab the greatest trophy of them all. But it's all so heartbreakingly normal. The powers that be survive, and the powers that could be are denied. I'm just too fond of dreaming to wake up to reality. Now if you'll excuse me it's only 13 hours until South Korea plays Togo and I'm going back to idealism.


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