By Jack Walker
It was Christmas for just over a month for any soccer enthusiast. Perhaps the only time in history when we fell in love with the ferocious heat of Mid- Summer and dismissed humidity as the charm of the ever so fitting competition. 2014. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; the long anticipated site to serve as arguably the most dangerous and intriguing tournament the galaxy permits human knowledge of. Team USA stumbled in on the heels of doubt and scrutiny. An early dismissal for any knowledgeable “Futbol bracketeer “, the yanks played beyond commendably, surpassing any and every expectation after emerging from the “Group of Death” after a sling-shot 1-0 loss to eventual champion Germany. Unfortunately Team USA bowed out respectively in the ‘knockout round’ of 16; pushing pesky Belgium and their early generation of soon to be super-stars to the final minutes of extra periods, losing 2-1. America:, now home from their travel; turned journey; turned quest: meant bad news for the bars and pubs and any liquor vending, watering-holes that had a television or two inside their establishments. Or did it…? Despite the absence of our turf warriors clad in stars and stripes, we kept watching. We watched Costa Rica sweat blood and cry tears of gold. CONCACAF, the North American qualifying group that determines the teams that will represent the region in the ‘Soccer Olympics’ is no longer considered the troubled acronym who’s offspring is an automatic warm-up for the next round. [Still not following …? Villanova 1985…. 8th Seed……] If I were to say that social media exploded when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit an Italian defender in the final game of pool play; perhaps Wikipedia will someday recognize me at the first sports writer to use that term in proper context. #SmartMouth Although we all enjoyed the sun-kissed hoopla and the long-shot teams that at times appeared to wear glass slippers instead of soccer cleats –as the theme persists-the gold register allowed passage for only the most decorated and proven nations. Countries whom the citizens of have and always will whole-heartedly believe that the players that wear those special colors are beyond supernatural. Silver-lining emphasized, the Dutch were a pair of penalty kicks and a questionable coaching decision away from the final for the third straight time! That’s 12 years! High School, College and two Master’s degrees will marinate in bronze for the Netherlands… Still. The World got what the world wanted though: Messi vs. the Machine. A 26 year old, 5’6 wizard, perhaps the most feared finisher globally since the fighter formally known as Cassius Clay. Germany was no surprise to make the final whereas the majority of professional soccer analysts’ reservations held a very loose grip on the notion as to whether or not the world’s greatest player possessed the magic to single-handedly secure his legacy in front of a lackluster supplementary unit That’s when the nightmares and flashbacks became saltier…Mexico City: 1986: Argentina stifled the German’s valiant sweat-soaked attempt to defy the idea that weather was never a factor. 3-2: Argentina. Four years later: Rome: 1990: Germany, back on European soil, dispatches Argentina 1-0. It rained that day…. According to Diego Maradona atleast….. Rio, 2014…. The beloved statue of “Christ the Redeemer” welcomed the showcase that even the Cosmos bought tickets for and let the universe have the day off. A long-story short, the wise-man’s paradigm prevailed… There is an “I” in Messi…. But no “I” in team….. Or something like that…. Germany 1. Argentina 0. 120 plus minutes for four years of what the world may never know. Truly a soccer spectacle, turned travel, turned journey, turned quest…. In the sweltering sunny city where there stands a giant statue of whom many consider to be the game –and worlds’- greatest fan, we’re still watching… the never-ending tournament of the galaxy.#LOVE
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