Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Yoo ess ey

Today I was home sick, with an ailment that I.. don't... really... want... to.... discuss. So I watched the day's Women's World Cup Round of 16 matches. If you are thinking I faked sick to watch these games, well, I can see how you would, but there is a lot of soccer in this world, and The Women's World Cup Round of 16 is not going to be a "fake sick" level event. I am actually legitimately at home and fairly uncomfortable, but it's a little embarrassing to discuss with exactly what, so can we please move on already?

Let's talk about Spain vs. The U.S.A.

I was rooting for the wild underdogs that were Spain. They lost even though they had the only thing I'm willing to consider a real goal in the game; a beautifully composed shot lofted patiently over the keeper by the occasionally quite excellent Jenny Hermoso. The U.S. scored their two goals off of penalties, the second of which was rather dodgy even if not outright unfair, which sums up soccer about 80 percent of the time. 

Here, that's important:

Soccer is a beautiful game of skill that's strangely dodgy about 80 percent of the time.

But instead of merely seeing a team I was rooting for fall to defeat, I brought myself back from despair and from my default total fatalism on the strength of my will and the following points:

Spain played close to level with a team wildly outclassing them and can certainly hold their heads high.


Players aside, the American fans deserved it. That's right, the American fans deserved this!

"What!" You cry. "The Americans are the neighborhood bullies, fat with their success, violence, and hegemony. How can they deserve anything!"

Despite being sympathetic to this point of view I'd like to point out that this is the still mildly obscure and developing sport of Women's Soccer. It's progressive. It speaks to equal rights and girl power. One of the U.S. players, the talented Megan Rapinoe, was the first white athlete to take a knee. This is a positive and growing sport. And yet as I watched game after game of these early matches, of this essential, rare, epic tournament, I was horrified to see largely empty stadiums. Sure, the French games had good crowds as this world cup takes place across France and France are among the favorites. And one can't expect Nigeria or Thailand to put a ton of fans in the seats of their games. But Spain? Spain is right next door to France. Spain is merely a long, pleasant drive up the European Highway to see their wonderfully improving team, in their nation's far and away favorite sport, in the World Cup.

But who was in that Spain v. USA audience? 

It was packed with Americans, all of them flown on miserable, shitty airlines and paying all kinds of exorbitant, hyper in season prices. That stadium was full of dedicated American fans, fans who had made an effort. Fans who had suffered for it. Maybe they deserved a victory.

And maybe the tenacious, slightly violent Spanish team could have pulled that upset off, if only they had the cheers of their hopeful countrymen urging them on, instead of merely the mighty, disheartening chants of "U.S.A.!" thundering in their ears.


  1. I hope you start to feel better soon.

    You know, I had the same thought: Did they fly all the way to France to watch the games? Or were they already vacationing? So if it's the first, that's remarkable dedication and support.

    Yes, that second penalty for sure should have been waived off.

    On that same note, I watched some of the Cameroon game against England. There was a Cameroon offsides called upon VR that seemed so unjust, painfully so. I mean, I think her *shoulder* was offsides. Even just one little piece of it, like the um I don't know what to call it, maybe the upper part. It had nothing to do with the goal and gave her zero advantage on the play.

    Hey, why is Qatar in the Copa America? Has my geography become whacky?

  2. Are you going to watch either of the games today?
    I wish I could watch Friday's games but I'll be in the Bay Area.

    1. Glad to see you're taking to all this summer soccer! I am still, er, messed up a bit, so I will watch today's games, albeit with stronger interest in the afternoon game. I like Netherlands and, along the lines of the above post, Netherlands fans are extremely supportive in France. Look for a sea of orange in that game (that's the Netherlands team color and nickname). Also look for Lieke Martens who is one of the best players in the tournament (and the world). I'll watch China Italy even if it is hard to see either team going farther than this.

      Yes, Copa is weird in that they invite a couple non Copa teams each time to fill out the field. The tournament really needs to combine with the Gold Cup and be an Americas tournament, in my opinion, but I'm open to your feeling different about it!

      Didn't see England Cameroon but sure did HEAR a lot about it as it was quite packed with controversy and outrages. But I accept your take on the offside on faith and am duly appalled! I guess the consensus is that they've got to find a way to tone down the use of VAR. But my take is that half of all the important calls are borderline and ultimately ungovernable by rules, so, well, whoever loses is always going to suffer and feel cheated. It's not a quality I love about soccer, but I am striving to accept it more.

  3. All right. I just don't like it. I mean, both teams play their hearts out...in fact Japan plays better in second half, and all that effort comes down to the ball hitting the player's arm from a few feet away, with clearly no intention of obstruction. It just doesn't seem commensurate at all. I mean, the odds of them scoring if her arm doesn't get hit are what, probably 5%?. But it's penalized w/ a goal kick which is, what 75% or higher?

    Other than all that griping, I enjoyed the game and the contrasting styles.

    1. Well put with excellent percentages and everything! The same exact thing not called prevented Australia from going through too, so it makes no real sense- just a bunch of borderline calls.I have all kinds of ideas of how to fix it, but also enough of an understanding of soccer to know that they'd all end in tears.


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