My World Cup diary on the game between the USA and England.
0:00 – Game begins. Normally when you say a game has a tremendous buzz, that’s a good thing. Not here. Game already marred by what sounds like an attack of bees in the broadcast booth. I learn that the buzz is coming from South Africans using ‘vuvuelas’ [plastic horns]. Apparently it is a form of protest. They want all the tourists out of the stadium and spending money among the locals.
0:30 – While clock is clearly moving, we may be in some sort of warm-up period. Action very low-key.
1:15 – ABC announcer just assured us viewers that the action is “not low-key” despite appearances.
1:47 – OK, this has to be a warm-up. Ball went out of bounds at 1:27 and they could not find another ball to use until 1:47. The USA player waiting to in-bounds, Carlos Bocanegra, was not even bothered, i.e. ‘hey, this is soccer, so what if the clock is running, nothing is really gonna happen when we do get the ball anyways.’ The NBA could have fit 4 commercials, 5 possessions and 6 free throws into those 20 seconds.
3:47 – England’s captain, Steven Gerrard, scores around 3:47. His slide ends around 4:47. Really inappropriate use of broken glass enters my sub-conscious. ABC commentators debate whether the US team still has a chance.
9:10 – USA goalie, Tim Howard, has apparently been added to the team right before the game. He seems shocked how bad his defense is and he is determined to alert soccer fans the world over that they, not he, are to blame for whatever English scoring may occur during today’s game. I think I spot a Kobe Bryant tattoo on his left arm.
11:47 – Buzzing continues unabated.
18:37 – USA misses on scoring opportunity. A Landon Donovan pass near the goal just missed being a header by Jozy Altidore.
22:40 – In an ominous sign, announcer describes history of 10 year old stadium the game is being played in. Buzzing continues unabated.
25:30 – USA gets free kick off foul and yellow card on James Milner. Altidore just misses header. Altidore, is very tall [6’5″] and features a Milwaukee Buck-era Abdul-Jabbar beard.
28:25 – England just misses on another scoring opportunity. The USA goalie Howard has apparently had enough. He pulls the by now classic soccer player ‘I’m going to exaggerate how hurt I really am although you can’t even tell in the replay how it happened’ stunt. His agent, disguised as a trainer, comes out to urge him to remain in the game. When the ‘trainer’ returns to the sideline, he gives the USA Coach the universal Jerry Maguire to Generic GM ‘you owe me’ glance. Replays show that Howard was actually spiked in the chest on the play. Everyone is shocked.
38:35 – USA ties game 1-1 on a Clint Dempsey kick. England’s goalie, Robert Greene, allows a goal which would have gotten him pulled even from a weekend co-ed corporate game played between HR and Accounting which features a condensed field and cones. Good time to note that England has a coach names Fabio who wears the type of glasses featured by a young Michael Caine.
38:36 – Howard tweets that “he is embarrassed to be on the same field with his defense and the other team’s goalie.”
42:14 – England’s Emile Heskey takes fake injury to another level as he interrupts the game for a couple of minutes to allow everyone to debate whether the Dempsy goal was the worst defended goal in World Cup history. Fans urge Heskey to rise since there was an immediate consensus brokered by Greene’s parents. Man, there must be some kind of feud between Heskey and Greene.
45:01 – 2nd half begins, buzzing continues unabated.
48:10 – England just misses around the goal. Howard punches teammate.
50:55 – On a breakaway, Heskey kicks the ball right into Howards midsection as a way of highlighting Greene’s earlier failure. The thing between Heskey and Greene must involve the wives.
59:58 – England’s Gerrard is yellow carded on a foul on Dempsey. In a breach of protocol, Dempsey gets up after an embarrassingly brief ground-writhing routine and seems to be laughing.
64:00 – Altidore just misses scoring on a rush which resulted in the ball being deflected off the left goal post. Greene gets partial redemption. Heskey seems upset.
65:05 – Game stopped because England’s Glen Johnson was bleeding from the lip. Johnson was offered an opportunity to fall to the ground, but declined.
71:15 – Buzzing continues unabated.
74:30 – Another point blank save by Howard. His Trainer/Agent is seen taunting Coach Bradley.
75:33 – In an embarrassing example of the dangers of live TV, a cut-away to scenes outside the stadium revealed the Argentinian coach, Diego Maradona, either selling or purchasing a crack pipe in the background of one shot. [Apparently, as a way of combating aggressive police tactics, drug lords have turned to the use of midgets in public drug transactions since there is a dearth of little persons in law enforcement, especially under-cover.] On the positive side, it afforded his son, Diego Sinagra, a rare opportunity to see his father.
80’s – Nothing good every happened in the 80’s.
91:15 – Buzzing continues unabated despite everyone — players, crowd and announcers — seeming very tired. I begin to wonder if there is an actual crowd or one of those fake crowd backgrounds featured in Droopy Dog cartoons involving sporting events. An English fan yawning answers my question.
93:35 – Viewer mercy rule invoked and game ended in a 1-1 tie. Apparently, everyone wanted to get an early start in ruining the rest of Robert Greene’s life.