Friday, June 16, 2006

Yeah, that was ugly

(finally got myself to a wireless Internet connection)

Photos from before and during the game are found here.

USA 0-3 Czech Republic. There really isn't that much left to say.

OK, maybe there is. Remember "The Replacements"? The first game they lost, which meant they had to run the table to make the playoffs. So Keanu Reeves, lacking confidence to make the big plays, tries the conservative approach and bungles the final offense. Gene Hackman chews him out, and the QB knows next time to play like a winner in order to be a winner. (you may also watch "Tin Cup" for a similar message)

That's either Landon Donovan or DaMarcus Beasley. Or both of them, because both of them were pretty lame on Monday. Not that they were outplayed talent-wise, mind you. Everyone on the train back thought the same thing: they both lacked heart. Fire. Confidence. Whatever. They didn't have it, and paid the price. Either they find it or we're all going home (figuratively) Saturday.

That's not news, though. Like I said, everyone had reached a consensus by full time.

Here's the news: this may very well be the most educated traveling bunch of US supporters at a World Cup to date. From estimates of 1,000-2,000 in Korea four years ago, people are saying over 5,000 Americans - a lot of them converts from 2002 - made the trip to Germany. Maybe it's because it's closer, and therefore cheaper, to get to this World Cup than the last. But whatever it is, these are people who are invested their time and energy, not only to get here, but to know all about this US team. This is not nominal, just-because-it's-my-patriotic-duty kind of fan support I saw in Gelsenkirchen. These are real fans, and win or lose for the US team, this fan base isn't going anywhere after this World Cup. No one could have been sure of that after Korea; now I'm convinced US Soccer is becoming less and less of a niche in America. Sure, it will take more time, but we are seeing very positive signs, and will continue to see them in Kaiserslautern and Nuremburg.

The days since the US debacle on Monday have been spent sightseeing and otherwise-wandering around. No one to talk to. Match days, however, have been lots of fun, because there's so many people to talk to. Let's list a few of them now:

- Bret and Tony, two people I met at Brauhaus Hibernia, the site of the US rally prior to the CZE game. They did not have tickets to the game, yet came all the way to Germany, hoping to score some tickets. They are picture 1866 in the photo album.
- Prairie, one of the people I know on BigSoccer. Actually, we met in person first at Anime Boston last month, when I was teaching Japanese. She got to Germany before me, and I think she'll be here after I leave next Saturday. That's dedication.
- Drew Carey. A couple of guys beat me to asking him for a picture, I didn't have the courage to pile on. I said to expect a 4-0 win as the bunch of us walked the long walk to the entrance to the stadium, to which he responded with a 2-1 prediction of his own.
- Jim, the guy sitting next to me while we were taking a 3-0 beating. The other guy was a Czech fan. I guess he wanted to be deep in the US fan section so he could gloat.
- Doug and Carl, the two people on the train I talked to on the way back. The three of us were not that confident after the game, but I imagine they're also thinking like I am, that a berth in the second round is still ours to take if we want it.
Nothing's over. But as Garrison Keillor says, "Every show is your last show." Let's hope, at least, that our guys think and play like it against Italy.

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