Considering that this weekend was Father’s Day, I made the trek back to the old homeplace to spend time with my Pops. Accordingly, my father took the unprecedented step of taking Saturday off–something that rarely occurs as he owns his own business and is frighteningly suspicious (in a John Forbes Nash sort of way) of anyone he leaves in charge of his store. To celebrate said weekend and said day off, we rose at the crack of 11am and lumbered to our respective couches while my mother fed us breakfast.
Immediately upon turning the TV on, we came across a quaint little event known as the World Cup. Now I must qualify my story with the fact that where I grew up, there was and remains no soccer of any type–no high school team, no kids leagues, and no annoying women in Mom Jeans driving mini-vans and giving their kids Sunny D while encouraging them to “try their best”. As such, I know very little about soccer, although I am Tony Meola compared to my Dad.
My father’s attention span is quite short, so I immediately threw some facts about the World Cup at him to pique his interest and to prove that the education he paid for had not gone to waste. He was amazed to know that the World Cup was bigger than the Super Bowl and that many of the countries live and die by how well their team fares. This was enough to get him moderately interested and we were able to watch the beginning of Ghana–Czech Republic although neither of us planned to spend much time there because the College World Series was on. Little did we know the Ghananians would score within two minutes and that we would become addicted like Lindsay Lohan is to attention (I thought about a Kate Moss joke here, but that’s a few months old–Lindsay is forever topical).
We ended up watching the entire course of the Ghananite-Czecher match and were both pleased to learn that this was a major upset for some reason. Now full of soccer knowledge, we set our sights on the USA–Italy game/match/whatever. Generally, my Dad needs a rooting interest to get really excited about a sporting event, and this match provided that by appealing to his patriotic side. Never mind the fact that he didn’t know any of the players, any of the history, or that there is such thing as Major League Soccer, all my Father saw was that the good ol’ US of A (us) was going up against some filthy Europeans (them).
Within minutes of the opening tip/first pitch/kickoff (again I’m not sure what to call it), my Father began critiquing the US strategy and had devised a game plan that would insure success. Basically, it involved scoring more goals than the Italians by kicking the ball past the goalkeeper while NOT allowing the Italians to do the same.
Dad was furious at the intentional elbowing that our beloved Brian McBride received and demanded vengeance. Luckily, Joe Dimaggio (I don’t remember their names, so I will call them by names of famous Italian-Americans) was awarded a red card, because apparently elbowing someone in the face intentionally is only legal in rugby. When Frank Sinatra scored for the Italians, we felt down, but not out of it. Just a few minutes later, Father Guido Sarducci knocked in an “own goal” to tie things up and Dad and I rejoiced.
From here things took a turn for the worse, as the Uruguagian referee booted a US player (OK I can’t remember their names either) for what certainly appeared to us to be a clean tackle (although neither of us had a point of reference to determine what was clean or not). Despite our protestations, the US was awarded a red card and things were evened back up. That was until the Uruguayish ref exploited his power again and kicked out another American!
The remainder of the game we figuratively sat on the edges of our seats (doing that literally would have burned more calories than just laying there) as we prayed for the US to at least preserve the tie. When that tie was realized, it was a bit anti-climactic as neither of us were used to any type of sporting event ending in a tie (Not a lot of hockey in southeast KY either). We ended the complete soccer experience by watching the surprisingly Italian-looking and named American announcer Marcelo Balboa ridicule the ref and call for the blood of his children, in addition to watching Alexis “isn’t that a girl’s name” Lalas match wits with an old Mob boss on ABC. Lalas: Dude, we totally got hosed. Chef Boyardee: America, she’s-a crap.
In summary, I do not expect our decision to watch two matches of the World Cup to drastically affect the remainder of our lives. However, it was a great chance to hang out with my Dad and yell at whiny men with funny names in little shorts. It also sets up this Thursday match against the Ghanese as being something I will be enthralled by. Finally, the reason you should cheer for the US in the World Cup is not for the “beauty of the game” or any other such nonsense. It should be because if the US wins the World Cup, the rest of the world will be furious. Geopolitical reasons aside, the rest of the world would be crushed because we are the one country that doesn’t really take soccer seriously as a whole, and the only country that doesn’t call it football. Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole. LET”S GO USA!!!!!!!!!