Friday, January 3, 2014

2013, The Year In Soccer (Sort Of)

2013, The Year In Soccer (Sort Of)

By: Vidda “JibJab” Grubin

So, I promised this guy I know that I would write some pieces about soccer, the Columbus Crew, and well, stuff I write about in the way I write about...stuff. So far, I think I’m off to a good start.

Let’s set soccer aside for a moment. (I might get back to the bitch of a sport later. I can’t promise though) 2013 has been like the following for me. You know that “moment” when you’re with friends, sharing a pint of Guinness plus five or six plates of oven-warm bite-sized appetizers, all of you sitting or standing around thick oak tables of such permanence they seem to have been carved from the trunk of an eight foot in diameter, two hundred foot tall tree growing through the floor of the pub? That “moment” when the friend next to you says “Cathy and I are going to split up.”

You say (because you’re really not surprised at all) “Oh, man, that sucks! You guys are such a great couple.”

And then you spend the next five minutes trying to judge whether your friend wants to unload his underground cave full of mucous like misery on you or enlist you to begin the process of turning (the not present) Cathy into a psychopathic, homicidal, syphilitic whore. You know that moment, I know you do.

Well, for all of 2013, I’ve been the guy breaking-up with Cathy.

I’ve been the guy who’s like a ghost when you’re around him. You pretty much want that guy to turn Cathy into the psychopathic, homicidal, syphilitic whore: because, damn-it, that’s some fun-ass shit. Instead, for all of 2013, I’ve been the guy who you can’t quite figure out in that incredibly important five minutes after you said “Oh, man, that sucks! You guys are such a great couple.”

I don’t really care. Sometimes being the “ghost” is the only role available. So, I guess that’s the point, if there is one. (Which there’s not)

The nice thing about 2013, for me, soccer has been my “ghost.” I’ve wanted to hang out with soccer, but I can’t figure the bitch out. Does she want me to sit and listen to her underground cave full of mucous like misery (match fixing scandals; player cannibalism; Brazilians, rightfully, protesting the billions their country is spending on stadiums while millions are still living in squalor; the continued decision to send her most important moment to countries full of homophobes, close minded jerk-offs, and religious zealots in 2018/2022; referee beheadings, and a Major League Soccer Championship which resembled a UFC battle for an entire half)? Or, does the arbitrary, indiscriminate, erratic bitch want me to join her in painting the rest of the world as a psychopathic, homicidal, syphilitic whore?

I don’t know what the unpredictable “ghost” of soccer wants. Therefore, I have wavered between avoiding her and sneaking-up on her at opportune moments of my own choosing, much like my friends have done with me.

Like a sweet riff by Prince, maybe a bit of Let’s Go Crazy, I enjoyed the United States’ campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. A campaign capped off with another resounding victory in Columbus, Ohio. Eddie Johnson, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and the boys finished the final round of six with confidence.

I mostly hated watching EPL; although, seeing Luis Suarez resort to cannibalism on the pitch brought new meaning to “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Perhaps “You’ll Never Eat Alone,” or “You’ll Never Eat His Liver With Some Vava Beans and a Nice Chianti If You Start With the Arm...Alone.”

I did enjoy watching Major League Soccer games broadcast from Portland and Seattle. Now, I’m a Crew fan, but that doesn’t (necessarily) make me stupid. I wish the Crew were on national broadcasts more often, yet how can you argue with putting MLS sides on TV that pack their stadiums full of boisterous, passionate fans. It’s simply good for the sport, which leads me to my “ghostly” wench’s next bit of 2013 irony. (I realize there’s no irony above)

With all the expansion going on in here (Sheikhy New York City FC, The Orlando Purple Pride, the probable addition of Beckham’s Miami David Beckham United Beckham’s FC and the Atlanta Gorillas) one can easily miss the elephant in the room. TV and Internet broadcast partnerships bringing in large SUMS of money are the next logical step for MLS. Nothing else comes close. Attractive, intimate stadiums in big city downtown environments, filled to capacity with the above mentioned passionate fans are of huge importance to the continued rise of the, bitch, soccer in this country.

Finally, 2013 saw the end of an era here in Columbus. As of right now, not a single player remains from the MLS Cup winning side of 2008. It’s weird, changing coaches was long overdue, but I have a hard time coming up with a professional soccer team anywhere/anytime in the history of the world (bold statement, probably the smallest bit of hyperbole) that only five years after winning their domestic championship sports not a single player from said championship. There’s something so wrong about this particular situation that I want to sit down with the cantankerous wench, pour a few pints and figure out just what the hell is going on.

Maybe in 2014 she’ll fess up, show her true colors, take off the mask, drop the pretense of mystery. Maybe, but deep inside you and I both know that’s not going to happen. You may as well get used to her the way she is; because, that moment I was talking about earlier, the one where your friend tells you a secret that’s not so secret, that’s the bitch, or bastard if you like, soccer. She’ll always be the “ghost” and you can’t do a damn thing about it.

Happy New Year!

Photo: Ghost-the movie

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