Saturday, June 10, 2006

the world stops, day two

Grandma came by to get the boys this morning as England was finishing up not losing. The boys got new haircuts and spent the afternoon swimming. I spent the afternoon watching soccer and napping on the sofa.

So, England didn't lose, but I hate to say they won. The single goal in the game came off the head of a defender who happened to stick his head into the air at the wrong moment. Soccer is often a game that is won or lost based on where the ball is at a single crucial moment in relation to a foot or a head. In a good soccer game, those moments happen with such frequency that you never quite notice them till they force themselves into the back of the net.

The last game of the day, Argentina versus Ivory Coast, saw me napping for possibly up to half. I wasn't fully napping baseball style, but I nodded off possibly as much as I nodded on (yeah, that's made up and doesn't really mean what I think it does, but . . .) It wasn't that the game was boring, but I was awake in time to see most of the game that England didn't lose, and I certainly saw all of today's second game. But by game three, and me on little sleep, I was fading in and out.

Today's second game, number four in the World Cup, Sweden versus Trinidad and Tobago was a beautiful game. To Sweden's credit, they did play a lovely game of long, accurate passes. They had so many of those beautiful runs that only happen in soccer, those 4-5 pass runs toward the opponent's goal, each pass landing precisely where your teammate is about to be, each pass a glory unto itself. T&T's goal keeper did an outstanding job, always the perfect leap, the perfect timing, the body contorted into a wild spasm. Overall, T&T played a much better game than Sweden. Early in the second half, one of the T&T players was ejected from the game meaning they played almost half the game one man down.

And here I rant about the second yellow card that caused Avery John to be sent off the field, leaving T&T to play a man down. It was a clean tackle. It was a very rough tackle, but it was fair and clean. There is every chance that this ejection cost T&T the game, though we'll never have the chance to know. As if the South Americans weren't playing well before, the loss of their teammate forced them to play that much harder, and as if it were possible, the second half of the match was even more exciting than the first.

The cherry on the top of the Trinidad and Tobago sundae was the goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop. He was not originally scheduled to play today, but a last minute injury to the starting keeper brought the game to Hislop. I don't know the words to describe the work this man did today, pure art in the goal mouth.

Add to all of that the fact that this was T&T's first World Cup appearance. No one expected them to do well, but they started their drive to the cup by holding a top team to a draw. And they played a game to be proud of, regardless of the tie.

My final bit, a little rant, is about the Swedish rat tail thing. Yes, seriously, though it was a little off to the side, it was an honest-to-god rat tail on a Swede. Geez, those Europeans with their old cities and there whole "been there, conquered that" and a Swede shows up to the World Cup with a rat tail. Wow! I live in the South and am still surprised to see that. Maybe I can take some Jordache jeans to northern Europe and make some cash.

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