The US MNT has advanced to the 2009 Gold Cup Semifinal after besting Panama 2-1 on Saturday night in front of over 30,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly. That’s right, I said over 30,000 fans. Methinks this National Soccer craze is gaining momentum. Me also thinks that once everyone is on the bandwagon, I may feel liking jumping off.
Nah. I will root for the team even if the obnoxious supporter next to me used to be the cocky asshole who was “too cool” to watch soccer because ESPN told him soccer was for “Europeans” and “Commies” (which is a little redundant because all Euro nations are socialist according to the US media). Anyways, I like the interest. But is it fleeting?
Probably, but not if we keep winning. The US loves winners. That’s why swimming, gymnastics, track, etc. are always given the most focus prior to the Olympics. It’s because we win Golds in those sports. If we can win Gold Cups in soccer and compete with the likes of Spain and Brazil, people will tune in to watch. I’ll be plugged in win or lose.
Why? Because I love the game, my country and my Nats. So, yesterday was a rare treat with not one, not two, but three live soccer games on many US TV screens that five years ago would have been watching some completely boring baseball game or British Open reruns. The 3rd game was US v. PAN, and it was actually sloppier than SEA v. Chelski.
This US B Team has as much heart and almost as much skill as our A Team though (and the real A Team). Both have a Mr. T, a physical defensive mid who pities the fool who tries to score and can get in a few shots as well (Bradley & Beckerman). Both have a Face, a pretty boy attacker who can dish with delight (Donovan & Holden). Both have a Murdock too, a front man who is insane and gangly, yet amazingly effective. (Jozy & Cooper). And both even have a Peppard, a dapper Captain and team leader who sets the tone and probably enjoys cigars (Boca & Conrad).
The US “A Team” B Team beat Panama in the yesterday in OT on a Cooper PK. The Panamanians did not like the call that gave up the game winner. In fact, it made them into Panamaniacs after the game, as several players accosted the referee after the final whistle blew. I guess they succumbed to the old adage, “if you can’t beat ’em, beat the referee.”
It was a good performance for the US side, especially for Beckerman, who scored the goal in regulation. He’s looked damn good in the Michael Bradley “straw that stirs the drink role”. The defense has held up decently, and the attack has been pretty formidable. Now, our squad faces Honduras on Thursday in Chi-town. I am hoping for another good showing. I am also hoping the Soldier Field fans will be as rowdy as the Philly faithful.
I know Sam’s Army will make us proud.