I had hoped that at some point I would post fairly regularly about soccer. But, that has not happened. There are a lot of reasons why that has not happened.
First, I am a Napoli fan. And they have sucked this year. And by year, I mean 2009. They were amazing in the first half of the season – the part that was in 2008. But in 2009 – they have been not so hot. If they had not been such a strong team early on, they’d be fighting to remain in Serie A. One coach was fired and now they have Donadoni. I like Donadoni. Many don’t. Many were angered by what he did to the National Team during the Euro. And while I agree that he really didn’t seem to put together the best team, I wonder how much of that was him or how much was him bowing to pressure as to what players to bring forward. I think he has the talent to bring together a young time and think creatively. Of course, he’s dealing with the big name talent wanting to leave. I am of the “let him go” mentality. The team signed the fabulously talented Fabio Quagliarella. He’s home grown talent and could do well in Lavezzi’s spot. But that’s next year. This past half season was hard to watch. It was hard to muster excitement for a team that could not manage to win. (Except for when they beat first place Inter Milan.)
Secondly, soccer is sacred to me. I’m afraid that if I write about my fandom, it loses a bit of it’s luster. But, I also talk about it obsessively, so it’s hard to balance that line.
Thirdly, I was thinking it was not a big summer soccer year. And then I remembered the Confederations Cup. Plus there’s some nifty World Cup qualifiers coming up around the bend.
And Fourthly, I never really know what to write about when it comes to soccer. Or calcio. Or football. I mean, do I focus on silly things like horrible kits. Or do what the ladies at http://www.kickette.com/ do so well. Or do I pretend to know what the hell I’m talking about when discussing the play.
I think I’ll tackle all of these things. Watching soccer is sacred. How I watch soccer is sacred. I don’t like being distracted when I’m watching a match I care about. I don’t like being around people who don’t understand the sport when I’m watching any match.
I’ve written about the wonder of community during a soccer match. I’ve written about my distress at seeing my favorite team flounder this past year. I’ve written about how pretty a game it is to watch. For, um, many reasons.
The FIFA Confederations Cup starts soon. And that makes me happy. It makes me very happy to be able to watch international soccer again. I look forward to watching Italy play the United States in a few days. However, I’m worried as well.
I’ll root for the US to do well. It’s what I do. I may have been brought up on Italian soccer but the US is still where I live. And I would like them to do well. Except. Well…
Okay, so I’ve watched the last two US World Cup qualifiers. And it was not a pretty affair. Far from it in fact. It pissed me off. They won the second match thanks to a BEAUTIFUL goal by the equally beautiful Carlos Bocanegra. (Incidentally, this goal led to me recieving a text from a friend proclaiming “I want Boca’s baby.” And my reply which was “You’ll have to fight me for him.”) But the team lacked something.
And this is where I find myself quoting Alexi Lalas (God help me…) – they didn’t have heart. They did not seem to care that much. Not the whole team. I mean, Ricardo Clarke was incredible. And I do have to give it up for Conor Casey aka the battering ram. But I’m really just proclaiming my love of a guy one of the commentators referred to as a battering ram. Nothing more there.
But, the big names. The ones that US Soccer has been talking about for years. They didn’t have heart consistently. And that’s a problem. To win anything in life you have to want it. And they did not. Or at least that’s what it looked like to me. Even though they won on Saturday, I’m still worried that after almost EIGHT years no one knows what to do with Landon Donovan. He’s clearly gifted. And when he cares, his play is incredible. But then there are those moments where he just sort of phones it in.
You don’t phone it in on the pitch.
And I get angry.
But that anger is part of what makes me love this sport so much. Being so passionately angry about how badly my team may be messing it up is what makes me love this sport so much.