Well, well, well. Who knew that Day One of the quarterfinals would leave me in such a charitable frame of mind towards Bruce "La Bruce" Arena and the much-maligned US side? After Jose Pekerman comic mismanagement of Argentina, that team's heartwarming display of post-game sportsmanship, and Ukraine's shambolic performance, I have to say that Team America Fighting's record and comportment doesn't look bad at all.
I took in the morning fixture at Red Wing, a spacious Southeast Portland cafe. The place was absolutely packed, with about a 60/40 partisan tilt towards Argentina. (Predictable in right-on Southeast—give Portland a Spanish-inflected anything with a hint of developing-world chic to it and you've got us at hello.) Weirdly, a lot of people seemed psyched at the prospect of penalties, which remain the most ridiculous way to settle a 120-minute deadlock except for just about any other method I can think of.
Despite their caterwauling and bad behavior afterward, Argentina's departure is a major tragedy for the tournament. Though I sorta like these Sexy Jurgenified Germans, they are still...Ze Germans. Great country. Awesome sausage. Wonderful beer. Football that is about as much fun to watch as dogs playing Frisbee. Ah, well—they're surely on track for a beautiful, riveting, free-flowing encounter with Italy. Eh?
But something tells me that today was a mere appetizer for tomorrow. Can either/both England and Portugal overcome their neurotic, self-destructive tendencies? Will Figo, at the very least, drop a skull-bomb on Rooney? And will France/Brasil be as great as it could be, realizing all the latent promise of this World Cup, or will it be yet another slightly over-hyped minor disappointment?
Tune in, kids! Meanwhile, I hope you're all reading the good stuff over at A Pretty Move, Portland's finer soccer blog.