Soccer, USA, World Cup and a Cold one

Every four years soccer fans, (read:futbol, football, or whatever), converge upon a continent, stadiums, bars and households to watch, cheer and jeer for the best soccer players in the world.  And to be sure there is always drama…plenty to cheer and jeer about.  All kinds of discussions, shoulda-woulda-coulda, and beer, ale and cerveza…just depending upon where you are watching the matches.  But a pint is universal, just as soccer, a goal and a match.  Use those words as descriptors and everyone watching or involved understands.

So today as I watch the World Cup soccer “match” between USA and Ghana (Ghana scored in the first 6 minutes!), I am enjoying a pint or two.  However it really is not a pint in the real sense of the word, and I do not mean measurement.  Being anything but conventional, as you may know or have read, I am having a Michelada.  Which is a great summer drink, especially to be had outside by the pool.  I make it as follows:

1. Tall glass filled with ice

2. Fill with a dark beer such as a Negra Modelo (although some may prefer a lighter beer or pilsner)

3. Add juice of one lemon (limes are also good), one dash of Worcestershire sauce, two or three dashes of hot sauce. (Some add a dash of soy sauce, not me)

4.  Just enjoy until it is empty, then repeat.

Soccer brings back so many wonderful memories for me.  As a player, coach, father, son and simply as a spectator.  So for this post I will limit the musings to World Cup memories.  Here are my top three World Cup memories…so far.

3. My first exposure to the World Cup was at the finals of the 1970 World Cup.  It was a live telecast on a movie screen at the Chase Park Plaza Khorassan room.  It was live feed, just not the best, although damn good for 1970.  Final game.  Italy v Brasil.  Pele, Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto.  I was riveted watching this level of soccer.  The three things that stand out as strong memories. 1. The large number of Italian fans.  I had no idea there were so many Italians living in St Louis, and I had no idea they were so passionate about soccer.  I just assumed everyone would be rooting for Pele.  2. Pele’s goal.  Perfectly executed. Cross from the wing, Pele facing the goal squarely.  He is above the ball and heading downward into the goal.  At that moment, I understood, and now realize I witnessed perfection in soccer. 3.  Few goals have been better and better executed than that of Carlos Albertos’ run from the right back flank up into the penalty box and into the back of the net.  That goal can still be used as an example of attacking from the back up the flank.

2. While this may not be “officially” a World Cup memory, it is a World Cup qualifying match.  And since this is my list…it counts.  Late November 1997 the US had a qualifying match against El Salvador at Foxboro Stadium.  To keep this short, I contacted my old team-mate, Dan Flynn to see if he could help me get tickets.  Not only did he hook us up with tickets, we stayed at the same hotel as the US Soccer contingent, watched another qualifying game for Ireland with the team, got on the field before the game, sat in the press box during the game, then went to dinner that night with the group.  Away from the game we went to Flo’s Clam Shack for oysters, crab, Guinness and cigars.  Doesn’t get much better.

1.  It doesn’t get much better unless you get to do a road trip with your sons.  Diana bought quarterfinal tickets for the 1994 Cup in the states. But there were only 4 of them, and she insisted on me taking  Blake, Drew and Tyler to the Cotton Bowl for the match with Brasil against Netherlands.  Just the emotions, the pageantry and the colors we unbelievable, and that is before we even got to the stadium.  Stars of the Cup were Romario, Bebeto, Dunga, Bergkamp and Gullit.  The score was 3-2 in one of the most exciting games of the 1994 Cup.  Brasil allowed only 3 goals in the entire World Cup, and two came from Netherlands in this game.  But the game aside, the spectacle of everything surrounding the game was enough to send your senses in overload.  Grilling specialties in the parking lot.  Face painting.  Music, Samba, national costumes, singing and dancing.  The universal chant at soccer matches…Ole’, Ole’ Ole’, Brasil, Brasil.  We had great tickets slightly elevated and a few rows from the field.  We got t-shirts for the boys, although Tyler recently reminded me that he did not get one because there were none in his size.  (I later got him one at Soccer Master) And then as an additional bonus, I took the boys to their first Waffle House breakfast somewhere in Oklahoma… I think.  At the time I am sure they were in a bit of a daze, between the game, celebrations and Waffle House.  Maybe a little too much to take in.  But I hope now they can look back and enjoy the memories.  I do.

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Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

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