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US soccer missing that love spark

brazil-papiermache

I’ve wondered for some time now why there’s such resistance to a full-bodied embrace of soccer/football in the United States. I think I’m finally able to articulate my hypothesis.

Prostitutes.

A number of current events stories in recent weeks/months has led me to the conclusion that America will never be as enthusiastic about soccer; never deify their league-leading players; never bring communities/societies to standstills as the rest of the world does until it has the full support of its sex workers. And since prostitution is illegal in the U.S. (save Nevada), it makes logical sense that soccer enthusiasts will remain pocketed throughout the country.

My proof:

  • Nigeria’s women of the night/day/mid-afternoon provided extra incentive by offering a full week of free sex if the men’s national team won the African Cup of Nations. They did.
  • Brazil’s associated sex workers are business savvy women. They’re preparing themselves for Confederations Cup 2013 and World Cup 2014 with free language classes. Must diversify.
  • In Greece, a couple of bordellos have emerged as the main sponsors/saviors for some amateur teams. Never fear; pros to the rescue.

In this light, the Mexican contingent that was sent to the 2011 Copa América was only attempting to maintain positive soccer-prostitute international relations.

Disclaimer: This is neither pro- nor anti- advocacy, just well-observed facts.

PHOTO: Credit REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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el grito de Wembley

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron oro! ¡Viva Peralta! ¡Viva Dos Santos! ¡Viva Corona! ¡Viva Fabián! ¡Vivan Chatón y Herrera! ¡Viva el orgullo nacional! ¡Viva el campeón olímpico! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

If it’s not perfectly obvious yet, Mexico won Olympic gold — hell, an Olympic medal — for the first time. Congratulations to the team, staff and fans who never stopped believing. This is my version of El Grito de Dolores, our independence proclamation.

 

On the edge of glory

Did anyone else catch the song playing in the stadium after Olympic soccer semi? What I heard from my web stream was Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.”

A tense final minutes, followed by an intense few seconds. Goosebumps. Jumping. Yelling. Watery eyes.

Heart rate settles back down and I hear Gaga. Whoa! Who knew that a song about getting a guy would be the PERFECT thing for this Olympic occasion?

I don’t know who was considered the favorite coming in to today’s game. What was known was that Japan had not conceded a single goal in the competition. Those odds were definitely not in Mexico’s favor when it found itself on the wrong side of a 1-0 score in the early minutes of the game.

Those plucky Mexicans came back to tie. To lead. And to extend it in additional time.

Now, they’ll face Brazil, a team who is on its own windmill-chasing quest. Brazil hasn’t won a medal since 1988. They’ve never won gold. Everyone says it’s their time. They’ve put in the effort and they’ve waited through the years.

I say, Screw that! Mexico hasn’t won a medal, period. We need this more than Brazil. They’re already established in the upper-echelons of football. Mexico is one of those good-but-not-great teams that’s easily dismissed by Europe and South America.

¡No más!

Don’t push us cuz we’re close to the edge… of glory!

PHOTOS: Oribe Peralta (9) falls to his knees at the end of the match that will send Mexico to finals; Other teammates celebrate.

No que no!!! Mexico goes for gold

I told you so!

The worn-out refrain of any Mexico fan is that we are going to win — the match, the tournament, the gold medal. People will always support their teams, but Mexico fans are blindingly optimistic that borders on naïve. We are fanatics. The country can be going to shit but if El TRI performs well (even the u-17), all’s well in the world.

The flipside of that coin is the contingent of naysayers who always think Mexico will lose. The people who think we have a bunch of talent but no idea how to convert it to goals and wins. The low-expectation crowd that isn’t disappointed when we lose and is surprised when we win.

Like my cousin…

That first text arrived shortly after the start of the second half of the Mexico-Japan Olympic semifinal. They were tied 1-1. She says Mexico will play their hearts out but lose, like always. I “politely” tell her to shut up. And seconds later, Mexico scores!!! GOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL de MEXICOOOOOOOO

Eat it!

Mexico will be on the medal stand. The quest for Olympic gold continues.

Rocky-style victory lap for Mexico

Play this to set the reading mood.

I’m imagining the Rocky soundtrack playing in the background as Hector Herrera starts running around the field, arms wide open, grin even wider. Mexico will — at least — equal their best appearance in an Olympic games. They’re going to the semifinals.

That victory lap is very well-deserved. Those quarterfinal games of Men’s Olympic Soccer over the weekend were a cardiac-arrest moment for fans all over the world. Honduras took an early lead on Brazil, only to see it stripped away. Team GB goes all the way to penalty kicks against Korea. Only one player — the last player — missed his PK, which unfortunately knocked out the host team.

And Mexico, yes mis tricolores, played 120 minutes to secure a spot in the semifinals. Tied 2-2 after regulation, Mexico scored in the first 15 minutes of extra time.

It’s way more stressful to watch as a team hangs to the slimmest of leads. It’s in those situations when you realize that time really is a fickle bitch  — if you want to savor a moment, it flies; if you want it to hurry up and be done; it feels like it goes backwards.

Herrera brought the collective sigh of relief when he scored the definitive 4-2 goal against Senegal.

The semifinal round starts tomorrow. Mexico will face off against Japan at 9 a.m. PST. Then, Brazil and Korea play at 11:45 a.m. PST.  

As I settle in for another excruciating 90 minutes, I’ll blast up the Rocky theme song and let the boys in green relish in a little more running… and jumping.

PHOTOS (from top): Mexico’s four goal-scorers celebrate during the game. Hector Herrera runs like mad in the final goal of the match. Gio Dos Santos, Jorge Enriquez and  Javier Aquino celebrate. Aquino keeps the piggy-back party alive. Herrera, Dos Santos, Aquino and Enriquez each scored a goal.

TRIumphant Olympic return

The Olympics 2012 opening ceremony is this Friday night, but any soccer football fan worth their salt knows that the road to the medal podium started today. The women’s teams got the ball rolling, and men follow suit tomorrow.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Mexico plays its first group game. Mexico hasn’t been to the Olympics since Athens, and they’ve never medaled. But they’re peaking at a great time — steam-rolling their way to London with key victories in international tournaments (CONCACAF, Toulon, WC U17).

Since NBC realized you can’t “Spoiler Alert” the Internet, it smartly decided to air The Games live, regardless of your position in relation to the Prime Meridian. So for a California girl, like me, that’s an eight hour difference. According to my calculations, that’s 6:30 a.m. I’d normally be pissed at such ludicrous timing. This time around, I’m looking forward to it.

I can get up. Go for an early-morning run. (Who isn’t inspired to get off their fat asses watching Olympians?) Watch the game. Get ready during halftime. And be at work by 9:30 a.m.

Barring any North Korean-style protests, that could be my most productive morning in months.

PHOTOS: Players training in London, and dressed in their Olympic uniforms.

SPAIN: The Holy Trinity. The Mighty Triumvirate. The football version of Qarth.

Wow! I should dream big more often, voice my desires to the cosmos.

Spain is officially the best team there is and ever will be. (In my mind’s eye, there’s an ascending Mexico so I l have to leave some wiggle room.)

On Sunday, Spain won its third consecutive national championship — Euro Cup ’12. It was a decisive 4-0 show over Italy.  No “boring” Spanish play on display.  La Furia Roja came out attacking and went to halftime up 2-0.  The third goal came late in the second half from substitute extraordinaire Fernando Torres.

And there’s more!  Minutes later he manuevers a brilliant pass for his Chelsea teammate Mata.

So if you’re counting, that’s three goals and an assist for Torres for the tournament.

In the end, what catapulted Torres to the top of the leaderboard was what handicapped him too:  He had been benched for much of the tournament. Playing far fewer minutes than the other top-scorers.

That Spain won wasn’t a big surprise, but that freaking Fernando Torres took the Euro Cup 2012 Golden Boot award was.  I couldn’t dream that.  I just wanted him to get a chance to play in the final.

All who thought that would happen, please raise your hand. Bend at the elbow. Pat yourself on the back. And go buy a lottery ticket.

The cosmos are on your side.

PHOTOS: Spain celebrates in Kiev, and screenshot of UEFA Golden Boot website.