Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Truly the World's Cup

I watched the U.S. vs. Belgium match in a pub in Canmore, Alberta with C and a bunch of U.S. vacationers. 

I marveled, with my countrymen, at Tim Howard.

I wondered how many would say "I told you so" when Wondo missed the sitter.

No caption necessary (photo from grantland.com).

I groaned when Belgium scored, and scored again. I said to C after the first goal "Klinsmann has to sub Green for Bedoya" (honest, I really did). He listened after the second, and we cheered Green's fantastic goal, then groaned again as chances went wanting at the death.

I listened to Columbia vs. Brazil on XM radio driving from Lake Louise to Jasper, glad I was watching the Canadian Rockies out the car window instead of the match as I heard the cynical play of the former purveyors of the beautiful game and the exasperating refereeing described, convinced that FIFA had stacked the deck in Brazil's favor in every conceivable but subtle way.

I saw two German tourists, faces painted with the German flag, on a sunny Tuesday morning in Banff. Little did they, or I, know what lay in store a few hours later. 

I passed a bar in the Calgary airport those few hours later, saw the game was on, and did a double, then a triple, take. The graphic read: "0 Brazil 4 Germany". In the 27th minute. I asked the guy standing next to me, still incredulous, "is that score right?" He assured me it was with a wry smile. I rushed back to the gate to tell C (she's of 100% German ancestry) of the score and that I was going to watch the rest of the first half, at least.

I rubbed my eyes when, not five minutes later, back at the bar, the graphic said: "0 Brazil 5 Germany." This time I just looked at the same guy, and he just nodded. Not a word was exchanged or needed.

I watched the French CBC station coverage at half time, deciding that even that lovely language couldn't put a pretty face on being down 0-5 in your own World Cup.

I decided that, at least this once, I was wrong about FIFA.

I followed The Netherlands game against Argentina, getting home from work to watch la Albicelestes win on PKs, a result that seemed neither deserved nor undeserved. Then I saw the Dutch destroy a slightly less desultory Brazil in the Third Place match.

I ambiguously watched the Final, half rooting for Germany because of that familial connection, half rooting for Argentina because I believe Messi to be the best player of this, and perhaps any, generation and that this was probably his best chance to add "world champion" to his resume. 

I was pleased that it was not another boring, tentative final, at least not in the first half, and that it was settled not by PKs but by two moments of brilliance (Schurrle's cross and Gotze's finish).

I was glad that a record number of my countrymen watched with me.

Welcome to the World's Cup and the World's game, American. Stick around for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment