Yesterday, Americans called in sick and took a vacation day to watch soccer. Think about that, bathe in that fact, let it soak. SOCCER! They flooded Grant Park in Chicago, swarmed Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. and packed bars, pubs, and restaurants in cities across the country to watch America play soccer. SOCCER!!! The sport we “don’t care” about; the sport so many have ridiculed and thumbed our noses at for decades. We woke up and decided, “ohhhh, I get it now.” People clad in red, white and blue are suddenly everywhere — on a non-American holidays — in support of our national soccer team. MOTHERFUCKIN’ SOCCER!!!! The camaraderie has spread like a disease. So when Jürgen Klinsmann wrote America an absent note, I decided to use it.
6:45 am: Wake up in a cold sweat to the sound of what could only be a baby dinosaur’s scream.
6:49 am: Realize that sound was my alarm blaring for the past four minutes — proceed to hate life.
6:53 am: Fight a losing battle trying to wrangle free from my burrito wrapped blanket.
7:00 am: Remembers today is the fourth most important day in United States history (behind Brett Favre’s birthday, July 4th 1776, and the day KFC invented the Double Down).
7:03 am: Finally get out of bed.
7:10 am: Shower, dust off my imaginary Pulitzer, watch Miguel Herrera YouTube videos for inspiration, download Rocky IV soundtrack to Spotify.
7:30 am: Hop on the Freedom train.
7:45 am: Get to the bar expecting a line of raucous red, white and blue clad patriots, who haven’t slept since Sunday, ready to throw down.
7:50 am: Realize me and my friend are the first two people at the bar.
7:51 am: Feel like an overzealous fool.
7:51:30 am: Feel like a proud American.
8:00 am: Bar opens. Grab prime seats at the bar. Finish coffee.
8:15 am: Figure waiting fifteen minutes was a respectable amount of self restraint before ordering first beer — Yuengling (the oldest brewery in AMERICA.) Make conscious decision to look up the definition to moderation.
8:40 am:Every seat at the main bar is taken. Bob Ley — American hero — has yet to appear on the television.
9:00 am: Apparently there is a monsoon in Recife of Jumanji-esque proportions. Images are flashing across the screens of waist-high flooding and fans abandoning cars to walk to the stadium. Rumors surface that FIFA might be forced to postpone the game due to field conditions. Jeremy Schaap makes an appearance as well as a lot of hand gestures.
9:50 am: FIFA announces Luis Suarez’ four-month and nine international game suspension. Guy next to me brags that he broke the news before ESPN. I order Guinness.
10:30 am: Seven Nation Army starts blaring from the speakers.
10:50 am: Born In The USA starts playing. My privates begin to tingle. The bar is at capacity.
11:01 am: BOB LEY —THE PRIDE OF BLOOMFIELD NEW JERSEY — SPEAKS LIVE FROM COPACABANA BEACH!
11:17 am: ESPN shows a montage that includes late night hosts talking about the USMNT and fans celebrating in parks. Order Yeungling.
11:25 am: Michael Ballack’s tan makes Alexi Lalas look impossibly pale.
11:33 am: My leg’s nervous bounce has reached speeds of 25 mph. Ronaldo’s new haircut flashed across the screen. Time is crawling.
11:49 am: So much tension — Bob Ley’s smoothing voice can no longer keep me calm. An eerie quiet settles over the bar.
11:51 am: Kiefer Sutherland’s voice sends shivers down my spine.
11:52 am: Live coverage begins. Philipp Lahm and Clint Dempsey’s stares could cut steel.
11:57 am: Everyone is singing the national anthem except Clint “Badass” Dempsey. He looks downright terrifying. At this moment I am incredibly proud to be an American — without a hint of sarcasm.
11:59 am: Cue Seven Nation Army.
12:05 pm: The only time the US touched the ball in the first five minutes was the kickoff. Germany looks like they’re toying with us. Joachim Löw’s hair looks awful.
12:06 pm: Kevin Durant jersey sighting in the crowd.
12:12 pm: Bar erupts when German player gets a yellow card. It’s the most productive thing the US has done in the game so far.
12:15 pm: First Ian Darke backlash.
12:18 pm: While discussing the flooding in Recife, color commentator Taylor Twellman says to Ian Darke “You got to feel for the locals, right Ian?” This was followed by a hilariously long awkward pause until Darke finally answered “Yeah.” No elaboration. Leading me to believe Ian Darke gives zero fucks about flooding — only football.
12:21 pm: Graham Zuzi Da Gawd rips a bending shot from just outside the ‘18 that sails a couple feet over the crossbar. Remains handsome despite not scoring.
12:23 pm: Joachim Löw’s carefully put together outfit looks really stupid when waterlogged.
12:30 pm: PORT-U-GAL. PORT-U-GAL. America’s favorite European team takes a 1-0 lead over Ghana on an own goal.
12:46 pm: Clock runs out on the first half with us clinging to a 0-0 tie. Zusi’s strike was the only positive play in the first half. Kinda scared.
1:02 pm: Recife is still very wet.
1:08 pm: Germany is still very good.
1:13 pm: Timmy Howard makes YET ANOTHER amazing sav…
1:13:10 pm: FUCKKKKKKKK. German-engineered goal machine Thomas Müller scored on the rebound. It’s okay though, Portugal is still up 1-0. We’re fine. I order another Yuengling.
1:15 pm: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Ghana ties up the game 1-1. [Breathes deep] [Buries face in hands]. If both scores stay the same we still advance, but we’re one Ghana goal away from elimination.
1:16 pm: A handful of drunk idiots celebrate the Ghana goal having NO CLUE that it put us a half step away from dying.
1:23 pm: Barely watching the USA game anymore. Staring at the Ghana—Portugal game as Ghana squanders about a five chances to score. My heart has traveled into my throat. Breathing is now a voluntary bodily function.
1:28 pm: Petrified. Convinced moving an inch would disrupt the balance of the universe.
1:31 pm: Dangerously close to pissing myself as Ghana wastes another chance.
1:32 pm: Bite my tongue really hard as “know-it-alls” complain that Michael Bradley “doesn’t care.”
1:33 pm: Beginning to prepare myself for the eventual Ghana goal that is going to toss my heart in a wood chipper.
1:35 pm: Considers praying.
1:37 pm: [Flatlines]
1:38 pm: RONALDO SCORES THE EASIEST GOAL OF HIS CAREER. DOESN’T CELEBRATE. DOESN’T SMILE. IMMEDIATELY BECOMES AN AMERICAN HERO!!!! LOOK AT HIS BEAUTIFUL DOUCHE-Y HAIR AND HIS SMUG SMILE!!!! HE’S MY FAVORITE ASSHOLE IN THE WORLD!
1:39 pm: Makes a blood oath with the bartender that I’ll name my first born Cristiano — boy or girl.
1:40 pm: [Reconsiders oath] [Orders another Yuengling]
1:47 pm: The Michael Bradley hate is OUT OF CONTROL and pulls me down from cloud nine, but too focused on the game to get into it. Also the hate-spewers are stronger and drunker than me so I keep my mouth shut. Moderation = Responsible Decisions.
1:50 pm: [Stares intently as the seconds slip off each game]
1:51 pm: USA ALMOST SCORES. The crowd is ready to explode.
1:52 pm: [Closes tab] [Smiles because President of the Universe Jürgen Klinsmann is smiling]
1:54 pm: The United States of America escapes the vaunted “Group of Death.”
1:55 pm: Exhales.
1:57 pm: [Walks outside]