Thanks to the infinite patience of my wife, and the resilience of my nine-day-old son (who is directly to blame for the lack of Eleven Devils activity), I packed the entire family off to Kells for an evening of elimination-round futbol. The air con was on, the U-20s were on one screen with the ArgoMexican match on the big enchilada, the Stella was icy and my wife, who is still recovering from months of pregnancy-related sobriety, gave me her Sierra Nevada after about a sip and a half. Sometimes life is good; sometimes Lionel Messi bags an delectable chip while your first born is at your feet, and life is very very very good indeed.
Despite all the reproducing I've been doing, I am aware that two superb football tournaments have been underway. From what I've seen on YouTube (and courtesy the Emanuel Hospital cable system), both Copa America and the U-20 World Cup feature the kind of football that make the sport a global obsession. Huge goals, fanatical fans, players going ballz-out for king and country—a refreshing change from the uptight play that too often pervades the game. Plus, after the USA's C team bowed out quietly in la Copa, the American young guns put together some of the most swaggering, game and (frankly) damn lucky football ever played by a US team. The Adu-captained Yanks are a sight to behold, and I was psyched to catch the last half of their knock-out with los Uruguayanos.
A big crowd of endearingly rowdy Argentinians were on hand, lending the faux-Irish pub a welcome Porteno flair. Songs followed all la Republica's goals. Two of 'em—Heinze going deep for a flying side-foot volley, Messi lofting it home—were mind-searing affairs. Mexico played a ferocious first half and for a time seemed set to kick, thrash and pummel their way to an upset. But by the end, Argentina was playing a kind of football that only they seem to play with such aplomb: virtually walking from pass to pass; one-touching it from one hemsisphere to the other; daring any and all to try to take the rock. Too bad such pure fuuuuuutbol can only really be played when there's nothing more to decide.
Meanwhile, Freddy and the Jets pulled off a classic heist in extra time, stealing a match Uruguay thought it deserved to win. the Urus acted like little putas after the whistle, while the USA imperiously departed with their quarterfinal berth in their collective shoulder holster. (Well, look, I haven't been getting a lot of sleep.) It was a refreshing change from that senior side of ours—those boys who have so often out-played the opposition in big games only to see a goal or two separate them from victory.
Good times. I think the boy liked it okay—he managed to sleep through the whole thing.