Well, England certainly did manage to make a drama out of winning their completely, relentlessly average group, didn't they? Paraguayan and Trinibogian sides that would be lucky to finish atop the USL First Division in a full league season made them look average, while Sweden made them look...hilarious!
I don't know why I'm taking unaccustomed joy in rooting against this England team. Maybe the endless anti-Yank jibes in the Brit press, which I follow with masochistic and time-wasting faithfulness, finally got to me. Or maybe it's because of the fans—and I'm not talking about the actual Englishmen who follow the team, bellowing and attempting to rid the world of lager. They have an excuse: they're English. With all due respect to my new friends at A Pretty Move, who seem to be pulling for the Lions, England's many American supporters are beginning to drive me cross-eyed crazy.
Example: I caught the second half of today's match at a Portland Parks community center. Though I'd heard reports of weak crowds at this particular venue, the room was just about packed, with say 50-60 people, almost all supporting England. Fine, fine. I too went in hoping they would stick a few goals down heretofore uninteresting Sweden's gullet, opening the way for a Trinidad miracle. However, Sweden's hell-bent resolve to try to win the group, combined with Wayne Rooney's demented-infant face and bench tantrum (lord, I hate that—you got to play in a World Cup match, son) quickly won me over to Team Sverige. The final straw: when, after Gerrard's excellent goal, an obvious American started yelling "Scous-ah! Scous-ah!"
Man. It's the football equivalent of pronouncing "Nicaragua" with a phlegmy faux-Spanish accent.
ANYWAY, to conclude this rambling post (who needs editors?), I've always liked and cheered for England in the past. Something has come between us. I expect that if they pull off a miracle defeat of feisty Ecuador, I'll slowly come around to wishing them well—maybe even cheering them on if they come up against Ze Germans or anyone else I find less sympathetic. For now, though, we are...estranged.