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.


The games started at noon today, after all the waiting, the romanticizing (huh?) and whatnot, Germany and Costa Rica took the field. Of course being in Germany, their time it was 6:00, last night I think, but I forget how to figure time across all those time zones. I may include game discussion, including winner and loser of matches in blogs concerning the World Cup. If you don't know or don't want to know, don't read.

I hoped for a Tico's win, but it was not to be. I find as I look through the schedule, I'm pulling for the American teams. Of course being a good USAmerican, I'm certainly looking forward finally to a US win. But I think we might update what it actually means to be an American.

A Mexican coworker once asked my why we referred to ourselves as American when in fact, our whole slice of the globe is America, North, Central and South. I'm reminded of that now as I think that I might like to see Paraguay beat England tomorrow. I'm sure that by 9:00 am EST, it will finally be today in Germany, right? Though it will be much too early here, any way you slice the whole concept of time.

Of course, I might also just be a silly ass. Maybe I just want to see England go down, and knowing that Brazil stands a better chance than the US of making it to the final round, I'm subconsciously getting ready to cheer for them.

And we end with our last bit of news and a tangent. In the second of today's games, the South American team from Ecuador beat the Polish team, from of course Poland. During the game I thought of my town's ex-mayor, one Victor Ashe, our nation's newish ambassador to Poland, wondering if his unpleasant self attended the game. For what it's worth, I play soccer at a park named in honor of this silly fellow. Regardless of my worthless barrage of insults, the fact is that he is an ambassador and me? not so much. And I still laugh at the bust in the park, a sad ironic laugh.