During the US team's attempt to make their way through the World Cup I thought I might have developed a new appreciation for Landon Donovan, striker for both the US mens national team and MLS team LA Galaxy.
I should point out that I've hated him for years. He has his moments, but so often his moments seem only to happen during those MLS games. I should also admit that I don't watch nearly as many MLS games as I would if I had more t.v. in my life to enrich my moments, so I'm sure I've missed whatever the hell else people see in him.
I should also admit that I don't want to imagine my US team as unable to win more games because we just aren't that good. I get that we don't have the history so much of the world has, and that lack of history means that we don't have the ingrown traditions of soccer. Our kids, till recently, didn't really grow up playing soccer, though for whatever reasons it does seem to be growing more popular.
I wonder sometimes if it's growing more popular because so many kids that would love to play something don't play football or baseball for whatever reasons. Perhaps the kids are finally realizing that football is kinda stupid, and baseball is soooo boooooring. Or maybe in the fall the kids' mommies don't want them hurting themselves playing football, and baseball is soooooo boooooring.
Either way, it's growing, and as it does we'll begin to produce more of those players that would be good at any sport along with those kids that are only good at soccer or will only ever be good at soccer, and eventually we'll have a system that can overpay spoiled assholes to the point where the dual sport kid sees basketball as the sport to help him keep in shape for soccer while he awaits that lucrative pro deal. Then we'll win the World Cup.
But watching part of the game tonight reminded me that I used to hate Landon Donovan, and now it's back. Within twenty minutes of beginning to watch the game all the old animus rolled right back around. And I should now admit that I didn't even watch the first half. I only started watching somewhere in the vicinity of the fifty fifth minute.
I watched him dive twice and intentionally handle the ball once. And the moral purist in me that loves the beauty of the beautiful game just hates seeing that shit. Seriously? Diving? And this from the guy that's supposed to be our best hope? our best player?
A hand I can almost get. At least then it's . . . NO! Fuck that guy. It's part of the game that you don't touch the fucking ball with your hand. It's not even that it's against the rules so much as it's just fucking wrong, and fuck it being strategic and a good move, and there's nothing noble about taking the yellow to help your team. It's just not how it goes. I'd almost rather see a good dive.
But fuck a dive too! I get when you're running full speed that sometimes it really doesn't take a hard blow to send you spinning. I get a hard shot that just totally knocks you stupid that really was a fair tackle but you got the foul because maybe you rolled a tiny bit more than inertia might have really caused. And I don't even like those, because it's still kinda like a dive, and I hate diving. The thing is, you got beat, and instead of just dealing you're going to try and get a foul called by pretending you didn't get beat? Man up, motherfucker.
Maybe I still just want too much to be valiant and pure of heart and actually earn my wins. It's so infuriating to know that you didn't get beaten but lost to some bullshit. And when it happens you just have to suck it up or be the sour grapes guy bitching about what he knows happened.
Sometimes you get beat, and sometimes you beat yourselves, and sometimes you don't start fast enough and have to clean up your mess. But that should never mean that you handle the ball and fake fouls. Sometimes you just have to deal, to climb back on the horse, to pull yourself by your boot straps, to refuse to keep getting beaten. And maybe sometimes you just don't get to do those things. Sometimes you just aren't going to win, and sometimes the other team is going to be better.
But for fuck sake, we're Americans. We wear the white hats and save the day. We wipe the blood out of our eyes and rescue the maiden. And we don't go for the nut punch unless we're actually fighting some sort of demon creature that eats babies.