Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things

July 8, 2006


by @ 1:01 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer, Stream Of Consciousness

At one point I was wondering if the game would even happen; lightning and soccer don’t really mix, you know? Not that the weather was unwelcome, since the clouds and rain kept the temperature from hitting the low 150s, as I had been expecting for an Independence Day matchup in Texas. If you’ve never experienced a Texas summer day, let me just stay in the spirit of massive understatement, that it’s hot.Last year at Pizza Hut Park, I saw a pigeon spontaneously combust while trying to snag some popcorn from the sidewalk. It was hot. I saw a squirrel trying to unscrew the cap on a fire hydrant. Yeah, it was that hot. The Baptists were wearing shorts and contemplating allowing mixed bathing at public swimming pools. I’m tellin’ ya, it was hot.

El Jefe brought the satellite dish, so the Inferno tailgate was transfixed by the World Cup semifinal when Cid and the kids and I finally arrived at about 3:30. Apparently, even with the elimination of the United States, FIFA decided to go ahead and finish the tournament. Odd, huh? The semifinals looked like an old episode of “Battle of the Network Stars”, if it had featured fading colonial-era superpowers instead of fading Hollywood celebs as contestants. Somehow Italy scored twice late in extra time to avoid going to penalties with Germany. Shrewd move that, and one that apparently many teams hadn’t thought of in this tournament.

It’s nice for the Italian players to get to the finals, since it appears the bulk of them will be either in prison or Serie C this time next year. I’m sure most of them would prefer prison.

The Germans, on the other hand, have got to start lobbying for a new regulation requiring all matches to be decided on PKs if there is to be any hope of them winning again. I’d also like to thank the German FA for training our next US National Team coach, SoCal’s own Jurgen Klinsmann. Maybe we could just swap straight up and send Bruce to manage Germany. It’d be the best deal for the Germans since we sent them Hasselhoff. Bruce can’t sing, and no one wants him taking off his shirt, but he got the USA to the quarterfinals in 2002; that puts him up their with Nietzsche in the hall of ubermenschen. The Germans would dig him, I’m sure.

So, oh yeah, the game. Well, I hardly know what to say about the game. We won in every aspect except the score. I’m sure, if asked, that DC would go ahead and keep the victory and live with the ignominy of having lost all the other fine points of the game. I’d swap them, I know that.

We had most of the possession, three times the shots, midfield dominance, and a home crowd. What we didn’t have was any finishing. Nineteen shots. No finishing. It was strange to watch. One brief counterattack by DC, in which there were more missed tackles than the last scene of “The Longest Yard”, and all the sudden we were a goal down. Not a hint of discouragement, not a hint of quit, not a hint of letting up. Just . . . no goals. It was very strange, as I said.

The Inferno, after three straight losses, are getting a little testy. Instead of yelling encouraging stuff like “Come on guys, let’s go, you can do it!”, there was more of a “Hey! Get your head out of your ***!” kind of feel to the whole thing. The natives are getting restless here in downtown Frisco. Last years inglorious summer swoon was blamed (rightly, I think) on Richard Mulrooney’s unfortunate knee injury. If we keep losing as the temperature gets hotter in July and August, I fear Coach Clarke is going to take the fall. I heard a few vocal calls for his early release from contract from the crowd, but I really don’t think we’re there yet.

Be careful what you ask for, you Colin-haters . . . the only available coach out there right now is Steve Sampson. And he, of course, is tainted by the stench of the dirty dirty Galaxy AND the 1998 World Cup.

You know, the more I think about it, I’m pretty sure Alexi Lalas took the Galaxy GM gig SOLELY for the opportunity to fire Sampson. I’m predicting he’ll go back to his career in music now that he’s accomplished that. Or back to Red Bull, so he can fire and hire the poor guy again.

Maybe Eric Wynalda is interested in getting into coaching. Or Marcelo Balboa. Hey, Dave O’Brien seems to know a lot about the game. We could get him!

To give you an idea, though, of how nothing could go right for us in this game, even the legendary Inferno smoke-bomb trick didn’t go right. The weather was so odd that there was absolutely no wind whatsoever at field level. So the smoke, instead of wafting over to the field and frightening Troy Perkins into a screaming anxiety fit, just hung right where it started and nearly choked the Inferno drumline to death.

Some days it just don’t pay to get outta bed, you know?

But I digress.

After the game, we headed back to the Dr. Pepper Pavilion for more tailgating, some satellite MLS action, and, ostensibly, fireworks. Most of us skipped the free concert, for fear that the combination of Everlife (a girl band sponsored by the Disney Channel) and Kool & The Gang would cause some sort of matter/antimatter event that would subsume the entire universe in a cataclysmic explosion of apocalyptic proportions.

But it didn’t.

The fireworks were scheduled to start at 9:30, but apparently Kool & The Gang brought their A-game, and must have played about 10 encores. As a result it was nearly 10:30 before the pyrotechnics started; the oddball stillness of the atmospheric conditions that I previously mentioned still prevailed, and the lack of wind actually caused the latter part of the fireworks show to be partially obscured by its own smoke, causing a surreal grand-finale that ended up looked oddly like the last scene of “Full Metal Jacket”.

Really, did we need that many encores from Kool? I mean, you played “Celebrate”, you played “Jungle Boogie” . . . get off the stage! People gotta work the next day, okay guys? Sheesh.

One thing I had never experienced before was post-game traffic at PHP. Usually, hanging with the Inferno means you stay a few hours after the parking lots have long since emptied. Tuesday, though, we left after the fireworks and had the pleasure of taking a good solid 30 minutes to get from the Green Parking Lot to El Dorado Street.

That’s 6/10ths of a mile, if you’re keeping score at home. Yeah.

Anyway, since there’s no better way to celebrate the birth of the United States than by going to a soccer match, I have to say it was, despite the disappointing loss, a pretty good day. Friends, food, adult beverages, the beautiful game, 70’s retro funk, and fireworks . . . does life get any sweeter than that?

I don’t think so.

See you kids Saturday for the MetroRedBullStars.

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