Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The shot heard 'round the world: USA Wins Group C!

How are there people out driving around? How are people at work today? Don't these people know what just happened?!?!?

Today was an amazing day for USA soccer. I watched the game at home with the scientist. We were both pretty confident, as were most USA fans, that we would win this game. But when, early in the game, Dempsey scored a goal that was disallowed for a bogus offsides call, I started feeling queasy.

What is it about USA soccer that apparently makes referees hate us? Sure, we're often referred to as the underdog, but I think this World Cup proves that label doesn't necessarily apply anymore. Team USA performed really well this World Cup, and I'm certainly not the only one who thinks so.

Other things to note are players whose names were little known until now. Most people have heard of Landon Donovan (most people who are soccer fans, at least), and maybe they've heard of Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore, but this World Cup gave us shining performances from players like defender Steve Cherundolo, a 31 year old player for German club Hannover 96. Cherundolo has looked great this World Cup and fans who may not have known his name before certainly know it now.

Then there's Michael Bradley. I've already mentioned his amazing goal from last week against Slovenia, and that he's the coach's son, but he's only 22 years old and currently playing for a German club (Borussia Mönchengladbach). He's played really well this World Cup and that goal from last week was pricless. I don't think he'll be with that German club much longer. No offense to the German clubs, but I think we can look for Bradley and maybe even Cherundolo in the English Premier League before too long. On loan to Fulhmam perhaps? Or Everton? Those are my 2 favorite teams in the Premier League because of their American players. (For example, Dempsey plays for Fulham and Howard plays for Everton. Donovan also played for Everton on loan from the Galaxy.)

Clint Dempsey had so many shots today that I just couldn't believe he didn't get a goal. Of course, as far as I'm concerned, he DID get that first goal. Sorry, ref; he was not offsides. And if you need another to reason to love Clint Dempsey, did you know he's a rapper? And that he goes by the name Deuce? Four years ago, he put out a video for Nike of his rap song "Don't Tread" which refers to the USA soccer slogan, "Don't tread on me." And, of course, Landon Donovan was amazing today. Again. (My USA jersey is Donovan's.) Like I said before, I wanted Landon to get a goal in the World Cup and, not only   did he get one, but he got two. And not only did he get                           
two, but he got two amazing, game-saving, history-changing goals. So let's get on to that part!

Back to today's game: I spent 90 minutes literally on the edge of my seat. Actually, I spend probably 30 minutes on the edge of my seat, 10 or so minutes jumping up and down, and the rest of the time bouncing from foot to foot while standing in front of the TV. The USA had so many chances for goals today, not to mention the one goal Dempsey DID get, which wasn't allowed (Deja vu, anyone?) and I was so nervous. The scientist had given up hope, I think, around the 85th minute. That's when I started thinking, "What am I going to do if we lose? The rest of this day will be unbearably depressing." But I just kept thinking that something was going to give. US players kept getting shots on goal, kept getting chances, all through the game, especially the second half, and I just couldn't believe that one of them wasn't going to get in the goal. (A couple of times, I think I slapped the scientist and said things like, "One of them has to go in! It's like math!" Whatever that means.)

And then Landon Donovan started that gorgeous run that ended in a goal in the 91st minute. Beautiful. I burst into tears. I screamed and hurt my throat. I jumped around. The scientist ran into the kitchen and almost fell out in the floor, then ran back to the TV, freaking out. The dog started barking. (True story.) I cried some more. It was truly amazing.

So if you weren't a fan of USA soccer before, what more do they have to do to win you over? How could a game be more dramatic? I don't know that it could. As one of the announcers put it, Hollywood couldn't write a more dramatic ending for a game. If we had lost, we would have been out of the World Cup. Then we got a goal, literally in the final minute of the game (before extra time), and became the winner of Group C. People who say soccer is boring are INSANE.

Next up: On Saturday at 2:30, we play the 2nd place team from Group D, and we'll find out who that is this afternoon.

Until the Ghana v Germany game comes on, I'm going to keep watching the commentary on today's USA game and I'll probably keep crying every time someone talks about it. But that's okay. Something this monumental deserves a few tears of joy.

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