|Team USA, photo credit, http://www.schurrscroll.com, photo in the public domain|
On Sunday night, a bunch of us watched Team USA come within seconds of winning its match with Portugal and go storming into the "knockout round" of 16 teams. Instead, we had to settle for a draw, 2-2. There have been plenty of lawn chair goalies lamenting how this was such a "mental letdown" and how the game got away from "us," as if there were however million playing in the game.
I recall the quote from Coach Vince Lombardi:"Fatigue makes cowards of us all." And Team USA had to be fatigued. The game time temperature was 86 degrees with 66% humidity. If you've ever played soccer, you know you run the whole time. No pauses while the refs re-set the ball as the chains move down the field, TV or time-outs, no sitting on the bench while your team bats, no standing around while the other guy puts. Nope, you run. You sweat. You gasp for air. You play.
Was it sad that the best player in the world headed the ball into the net at the end? Sure. But let's recall, these guys were exhausted. They did not win, but they did not lose.
Team USA goalie Tim Howard had this to say: "Football is cruel sometimes." True enough. However, it is precisely because something can cause such pain that it can also release such elation, such sheer joy (cue Ludwid's music). Just watch the crowd at these events to see how much emotion is on display. It's also nice to see the absence of drunken brawlers in the stands.
Back to Team USA- they have every chance to make it into the next round. A win, they're in. A tie, that works too. Even a loss with a bit of help from the other game keeps us alive.
But please, let's have no gentlemen's agreement to play to a draw. Play to win boys. Play Germany with all the fervor you can mount. As my terribly bad pun in the title states, just go(al) have fun, but play to win. If you come up short, so be it.
Let us ban from our collective communication any thoughts of, "if ONLY we'd played for a tie..." Nicht. Go out there and play German, acting as if a win is the only way to go on to the next round. (OK, if it's under five minutes in the game, then playing for a tie is not a terrible idea. It's one thing to pursue a romantic, noble cause. It's another to dumbly tilt at a windmill. In other words, if it's a close game, kindly get some guys back on defense.
Regardless of the outcome, we're proud of you. Get some sleep, hydrate and play your hearts out. We'll be cheering for you from here.
Be well my friends,