I’ll do another laundry list of random crap from the past couple days later, but first, the US-Italy game deserves its own post.
Before getting on the plane on Friday the 9th, among my soccer buddies I’d expressed a desire to see any or all of the following:
- Gooch folding Luca Toni like a card table
- Landycakes stepping it up specifically against Italy
- Dempsey to show the world what the New Englanders have known since early 2004–that he’s going places
I got all three wishes. The official reports say 1-1 draw, but everyone in that stadium Saturday night knew damn well the US beat Italy. Within minutes of the opening whistle, we knew everything had changed from Monday night, on the field and in the stands. Magpie and I were up in the very last row of the US section, along with what wound up being most of the Fort regulars. Last row, first row, who cares, we were in the goddamned stadium, in a sea of US fans who stood and made as much noise as possible for 90 minutes straight (the second the final whistle blew, Keller turned around and made it clear they heard us on the field). That was the most amazing game I’ve ever seen, in person or on TV, and if you wanted a textbook moral victory, you had it. On the way out, all the Italian fans were quiet, but the US fans kept up the “you can stick your Luca Toni up your ass” chants ’till the last train out.
Nine men on the field and we held them to a draw. Everyone came out fighting, with Beasley subbed in and immediately showing penance for his awful play against the Czechs. Landycakes actually, y’know, doing the kinda thing that got him to be the face of US Soccer. Keller with some huge saves (brad woulda had the italy goal though). Gooch seeing to it that Toni could do nothing. Jimmy friggin’ Conrad holding his ground like he owned the place. Demps being, well, Demps.
I thought I wouldn’t see much to top the dogpile that happened at the July 16th Revs-Dallas game, the one where Twellman scored the w-hat trick to pull back a last gasp win and the Fort collapsed on itself when the third goal came through. Beasley’s non-goal, though, for the brief moment we thought it was the go-ahead, that one we all came out with bruises and scrapes from falling on each other. (“Hey, did I kiss you or that middle-aged Asian dude?” “Who the hell cares?”) There’s just no way to describe being at the game other than to say I spent spent the entire time thinking “omg omg omg omg this is so intense I can’t even believe I’m here.” This game was worth every single cent, every setback, every hurdle in getting there for the last four years. This game was everything that is right with US soccer.
Oh, yeah, and everything that is wrong with Italian soccer. “I haven’t seen that many pussies since the last time I went to a cat show.” “When your league is a mess ’cause you bought all the refs, you’re Azzuri.” It did not escape my attention that postgame, only a couple US players had blue jerseys from trading.
Going into the game, we had everything stacked against us; during the game, same story. Coming out of the game, we’re still here, we’re still in it, we still have a chance to pull through. We fans don’t have to spend the rest of the week with a cloud hanging over our heads.
I gotta believe.