I trekked to the Pearl District—which is what passes for a snooty neighborhood here in the egalitarian Northwest—for the Brasil/Hrvatska (I think I have that right) match, the better to rendez vous with my pal Tom. Luckily, today's action provided timely reminders—timely after yesterday's unpleasantness, that is—that the World Cup can make one happy as well as atom-splittingly furious.
ITEM: I show up at On Deck, a crisply corporate sports bar with approx. one billion televisions. One of them is tuned, I kid not, to WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY'S SPRING GRIDIRON SCRIMMAGE. For reals? Anyway, I approach the bar, and ask the fella behind the stick if they're showing the Brazil game. He looks at me like I'm crazy—a look all American soccer fans are used to, right? But then he says, "Of course."
ITEM: The place is dead right up to kick off, when this Latino guy I've never seen before in my life comes bounding in. This dude is wearing a Madrid jacket WITH a Barcelona patch OVER a Jaguares T-shirt—now that is what I call fucking enthusiasm. He and I give each other a look, and we both just grin. He's practically dancing in place, he's so excited.
ITEM: Togo's goal.
ITEM: Togo's nickname. Allez Sparrowhawks!
ITEM: Both South Korea goals.
ITEM: Croatian fans.
ITEM: Brasilian fans—especially those two honeys in the Indian headresses. Jogo bonito, indeed.
ITEM: Kaka's goal.
ITEM: Croatia's second-half performance.
ITEM: As we walk down the street afterwards, Tom runs into some co-workers from his reasonably fancy firm. "Is anyone at work?" he asks. "Nah," they say. "Brasil is playing." Hmm. Maybe the game's future in this country isn't entirely dependent on Bobby Convey, after all.
In all, not quite the eruption of glory (ew) some expected, but I'd say Brasil is getting the gears oiled, and that Croatia is likely to paste the Aussies and Japanese to go through. (For a dramatic Round of 16 collision with the United States! HA HA HA!) But a good time was had by all—especially since that France/Suisse game never really happened. Did it?