Wednesday morning as I got ready the World Cup match between the U.S. and Algeria was on. I flipped by and watched a bit before getting in the shower, and when I was later getting dressed it was halftime. As I put on my shirt the TV in the bedroom showed me highlights from the first half, which featured a disallowed goal by the U.S.
That's when something inside me snapped. A bit. Figuratively speaking.
Last Friday the U.S. match against Slovenia had aired before I left for work as well, and there I happened to see live what would have been the winning goal be waved off by what was declared by pretty much all observers as to be an awful call by the referee. I was so quasi-incensed that I even went on Facebook and posted how that ref better never set foot in this country.
In short, I was treating football (soccer) like a sport I cared about.
Then after seeing another questionable call go against the U.S. team in Wednesday's match, knowing that England was ahead in their game, I had that most American of reactions: righteous indignation fueled by conspiratorial paranoia. I was just pissed off—in a moderately genuine way—and fuming about how the officiating was clearly biased against us. (Look—I'm saying "us" and everything.) I was primed and ready to channel this anger into a declaration that international soccer—that's right, soccer, not this football crap—could go to hell. If the U.S. wasn't going to get a fair shake even when it seemed like we weren't likely to win the whole thing, if the world (as represented by FIFA) was so determined to keep our team from advancing that the referees were going to only allow for draws (which is worse than a loss for Americans—a loss we understand how to handle, because at least there's a distinct winner and loser, even if we're on the short end of that), then we needed to rebuke soccer as a sport altogether. Oh, sure we could let kids still play it in the park, and if the MLS insists on continuing we could overlook that, but from here on out our attitude toward the World Cup would be: Huh? What's that?
I was all revved up to hold on to this, to make it into a badge like the ones that Cubs fans must figuratively wear (now that their team has the longest streak of not winning the World Series, at 102 seasons) and how they view the Bartman incident. I was filled with fury (well, inasmuch as I could be over a sporting event) that I was set to carry for the rest of my days. Or until it wore off and then maybe something later reminded me of it.
And then on the way in to work I heard on the radio that the U.S. had won its match and was moving on. I didn't know what to do. I was not prepared for this. I had this anger to direct somewhere.
So I had no other choice but to be pissed off at the U.S. team for winning even though ultimately that's what I was rooting to happen. Curse you for getting that lucky rebound and being in the right place at the right time, Landon Donovan!
Leave it to the Americans to screw everything up.
Again, my utter lack of faith in a team contributed to its success.