. . . stop reading immediately, go to ESPN3.com, and watch. Do not read further – you’ll thank me later.
If you watched it . . . that was not only the greatest moment in US soccer history (without question), but I’m thinking it may well have been the greatest moment in US sports history (or in the top 2 or 3 — “Miracle on Ice”? What else is even close?). I do NOT mean the greatest moment in the history of sports in the US — there are way too many candidates on that list. But I do mean possibly the greatest moment in the history of “US sports” — sports in which “the US” was a participant. Even those of you who don’t care much for the game of soccer have to agree – that was an extraordinary contest and extraordinary drama. I don’t know what others are looking for when they watch sports, but if that one didn’t do it for you, you’re . . . not a soccer fan, I guess. [I feel the same way about Wagner operas — if you can listen to a great performance and come away unmoved, then it just means Wagner’s not for you …]. And it’s the first 91 minutes of frustration and anger — another blown call!! missed chances right and left!! bad decision-making!! — that makes it all the more delicious [a lot like Wagner, actually!]
This Cup, for my money, has had decent soccer (I’d give it a “B” so far, overall) and great drama. It’s compelling in the way that March Madness is compelling, but multiplied by maybe 10 million — fundamentally, because “Nigeria” and “Spain” and “France” and “Ghana” and the rest of them are, as ideas and symbols to which people are profoundly attached and about which they care very, very deeply, about 10 million times more powerful than “Duke” and “the University of Kansas” and “Butler” – no disrespect to those fine institutions, of course. The implosion of the French, the great fightback by South Africa yesterday to gain at least a degree of respect, the way the Argentines have finally found a way to get the most creative player in the world into the thick of the action, the Portuguese demolition of the North Koreans (who looked so strong against mighty Brazil) . . . . lots of great story lines throughout. [and for my money, I think Sam’s posts on the Cup have been as good as anything I’ve been reading out there on the subject …]
And I’m pretty happy so far with my pre-tournament predictions. I pegged Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and the Netherlands as potential winners, and they look like good choices thus far (though Spain still has some work to do to assure itself a place in the second round). “Italy looks old and tired, France anemic in attack, Germany unimpressive, and England . . . . well, England looks like England.” I think that was pretty prescient — except for the Germans, who look a lot better than I expected them to look. And also, as I predicted, the African teams were a mess – we may well have a round of 16 without a single African team in it, which would really be a shame.
(and with apologies to Paul Simon)
So here’s to you, Landon Donovan
The heavens are resounding with thy name, that’s what I’d claim.
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Landon took the shot that won The Game.
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey …