Kicking and Screaming
Confederations Cup, Part II
After treating myself to a post-coaching Slurpee, I sat back to watch the US vs. Brazil on a 30-minute delay. Unfortunately for me, this delay was enough for my wife to relay her cousin’s husband’s enthusiasm for soccer through his Facebook status.
Her comments were innocent enough at first: “I didn’t know Brian was a soccer fan, his status says 'Wearing my US jersey for the big game'.” With a nod and a chuckle, I dipped my chip and swigged my Slurpee.
Then it happened. She continued with her story, “he kept updating his Facebook status. It said 'There’s one...there’s two'." As my Slurpee brain-freeze faded, I was left contemplating how this wouldn’t affect my watching of the game.
I’ve watched plenty of soccer games where I knew the result. I think soccer may be the only sport I actually can do that. This, however, was different. I had become a US convert in the last 3 days, and this game was going to test my will. Could the US be up 2-0? I never would’ve believed it before, but I’m now drinking the Slurpee, so maybe I could. Or is Brazil up 2-0? If so, can I will myself to watch the rest of the game? Such trials and tribulations should not be bestowed upon such a new fan’s fragile psyche.
I agreed with my wife that knowing there were already two goals in the game would not affect me watching it. It is soccer after all...two goals happen routinely in the games I coach for 10-year-olds.
As the US scored their first and second goals, I was relieved that there was not too much time between them. At least I could watch the last 60 minutes of the game in ignorant bliss. My wife went shopping, meaning no more Facebook updates, and I watched as the US battled hard to hold off the morphing Brazilian offense.
While Brazil attacked often from the wings, throughout the first 60 minutes it was predictably crosses from the right-side, and attacking dribble from the left. Right around this mark, though, their star playmaker, Kaka, started to get more involved, and their attack became more fluid. Crosses from the left started to balance with attacking dribble from the right. The middle of the field was getting stretched, leaving Brazilians to run free. And the spark the US started the game with was getting old.
Dangerous counter-attacks by the US in the first half had given way to dangerous turnovers in the second. I still held on to the hope that US goalie Tim Howard would continue his stellar (and referee-friendly) play.
As the final goal was scored and Brazil won 3-2, I was happy for the US, Brazil, and myself. I sustained a full game as a US fan without throwing them off a cliff. After I talked to my brothers about the game, and in the ensuing days I talked to several others. Sure, in our discussions, I was critical of some of the US decisions, but I made sure to temper it with some of the positives that I had seen. I’m not going to give in-depth analysis of the game, I save that for the experts, but one thing we all agreed on. It was the first time in a long time that I could actually see the US competing at a high level against the top teams in the world. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.