OK, yeah, that title doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And having been out of work from writer-world for the last 8 months now, it strikes me as horrific that Isiah Thomas got a job before I did.
However, today was a day where I was glad to hang out at home and watch the Champions League, with no other responsibilities taking me away. I’ll make it clear – I can’t stand Chelsea or Liverpool. I’ve hated both since Isiah was sharing kisses with Magic Johnson two decades ago.
And now Isiah is coaching at Florida International, Magic is doing Rent-a-Center commercials, and I’m sitting here watching TV. Hmmm.
Anyway, I’m not even going to tell you how the game ended today. I don’t want to spoil it for all the unfortunate souls who want so desperately not to know the score of a soccer game, but spend their day on a soccer web site anyway. For just this once, I’ll be nice and not give away the result. (If you want to know, click here.)
But here’s what you should know. It was a hell of a show. Both teams fought hard, there were plenty of goals … perhaps the defense was a little lacking, but hey, that’s fine. It’s OK to have games every once in a while where the offenses overwhelm the defenses. I’ve never believed in the theory that some 80% of all goals are defensive mistakes – and even if I’m wrong in that, that’s fine. I like goals.
What soccer doesn’t often provide us are games that a month, year, or a few years later, you would sit down and watch again in their entirety, even though you of course know the result. MLS has had precious few … the 2004 Eastern Conference final between DC United and New England (who play Friday night on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.) comes to mind; as does the San Jose-Chicago MLS Cup final from 2003 (I found that one highly entertaining anyway). But that’s fine, too, the league is still an infant in age compared to its English cousins (or most other countries).
I don’t know if ESPN is going to trot out today’s match as an “Instant Classic” on ESPN Classic. They should, but it is still soccer, so you never know. But at the end, Derek Rae had it right – the game will probably live forever for the fans of the two combatants, and while one set of fans are going to enjoy it more than the other … it’s a rare game where a team can come up short of advancing and fans be so genuinely proud of their efforts. Sure, fans of the losing team on aggregate are probably going to litter BigSoccer with all the technical, nit-picky points about why they didn’t get it done. Blame the ref! Blame the manager! Blame the captain! Blame the ref again!
But I’d say, spare us all that for a while. As a person who can’t stand either team … perhaps the purest of neutral in that I turned on the game only hoping for carnage … well, I was impressed.
Bravo to Liverpool and Chelsea for a great show.