Smile Politely

Come watch soccer! — US v. Brazil on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Esquire

I have heard from a reasonably reliable source that a contingent of soccer fans will be gathering at the Esquire at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon to watch the US play Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup, a warmup tournament in South Africa to prepare for the 2010 World Cup.

If you hadn’t heard, the US beat Spain 2-0 on Tuesday. Spain had not been defeated in 35 consecutive matches (remember, in soccer that means either a win or a draw). Here’s a link to the recap on the BBC.

It is odd to be a soccer fan in the United States right now. David did not just defeat Goliath, but took him off the turnbuckle and only a couple of thousand people seem to have noticed. This was a gigantic upset. I have thought of two reasonably close analogies familiar to an American sports loving audience. One is the Miracle on Ice, when an American ice hockey team composed mainly of college students beat the Soviet Union’s powerhouse team in the final during the 1980 Winter Olympics. “Do you believe in miracles?!” was the catchphrase that entered American sporting lore from the call of that match. Two is a theoretical game which would almost certainly never happen. The US beating Spain is like a AAA baseball team, the Iowa Cubs, for instance, defeating the New York Yankees. That is the kind of disparity in talent and tradition which the American men’s national soccer overcame in that game.

So the US goes through to the final and will play Brazil. They will probably get their asses handed to them, but then, I thought that about the Spain match, too. That’s why they play the game, as the saying goes. In any case, I think it will be great fun to hang out at one of our best local bars with passionate soccer fans, drinking some cold beer and whiling away your Sunday afternoon watching 20 great athletes kick a little ball around and two more great athletes get to use both their hands and feet. Hope to see you then!

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