The World Cup is here again. And in the case of West Coast fans, the early bird gets the worm. This morning you got 70 minutes of boredom and about 20 minutes of great soccer. Mexico should have won by at least 3 goals (will give the poster to SA), but instead we ended up with the perfect diplomatic result.
Who wears ties anymore?
Ties are good for the kids’ rec and travelling teams, which I used to coach. It caters to the “winning isn’t everything” school of parenting. But in the World Cup, where soccer zealotry is pumped to extreme levels, a tie is so unsatisfying. Winning is everything, dadgummit. (A soccer phrase from the Netherlands, I believe).
Still, if you’re a soccer fan, you delighted in little things like when a Mexican wing passed the ball into an empty space behind a South African defender, then outran the defender to the ball. Essentially, Aguilar the Mexican forward passed it to himself. That was like a “wow” move. Too bad his cross to the goal wasn’t converted.
But the game isn’t about scoring. It’s about the journey, and the displays of brilliant ball handling along the way.
Here’s how to watch the matches: Pray they keep the camera wide enough so you can see as much of the field as possible. The close ups are good for the sweat. But the way to appreciate the game is to look away from the ball. Don’t follow the ball, follow the empty spaces, and then look to see how the players without the ball suddenly appear to meet a pass into space.
In basketball, a good guard and a center can play pick and roll all day. In soccer, you can see series of “give and gos” all the way down field. When the passes are direct and literal you won’t see the magic. But when players exploit space and send the ball into the open to a teammate in full run, then you see the beauty and the fluidity of the game. That’s when the magic happens. Like when the South Africans scored the first goal of the cup, the ball was sent into space when Siphwe Tshabalala, #8, found it on a dead run to strike it into the net.
Text-book use of exploiting speed and space. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice on a post pattern. Same thing.
Now that’s when when you should blow those darn horns.