I am a big sports fan, but soccer is not a sport I watch too often. I love the World Cup and I grew up playing International Superstar Soccer 98 and FIFA 2002 (shut up, they're both great games and the reason why I know 80 percent of what I know right now about soccer...which isn't too much).
Other than that, I don't follow soccer too much.
So in my never-ending quest to become the greatest sportswriter that the world has ever seen—a la Stephen A. Smith—I decided that I must do more soccer related pieces. What better place to start than the World Cup Qualifying match between bitter rivals Mexico and the United States?
I am writing this as I watch the game and it's my first soccer-related piece, so excuse the crudeness. If you're looking for meaningful insight for this game, I suggest you look elsewhere. But if you want to see what the game is like from the perspective of a typical American who doesn't watch much soccer, then enjoy.
(By the way, all times are EST...Don't ask why I did real time instead of game time)
4:02 – We’re underway and USA is in white while Mexico in green. USA's uniforms lack pizzazz in my opinion.
4:06 – It seems that there’s a player on USA from Green Bay…how interesting.
4:12 – GOAL USA!
4:12 - It was by Davies. I am excited beyond belief…he ran towards the goal and just struck it in. That was very nice.
4:13 – The field looks mad cool. It's like a big green bar code.
4:16 – Apparently USA's Tim Howard is one of the best goalies in the world…good, stop them goals today Timmy.
4:17 – The corner kick is sponsored by Degree.
4:17 – Corner kick goes from corner to sideline which is not very exciting
4:19 – Whenever I watch a sports game (especially with a sport I don't watch very much) I try to find the player who looks the least like a professional athlete. Today, it's Mexico's Blanco. He looks like a junior high badminton coach.
4:21 – Landon Donovan essentially gets flipped by a Mexico player...no penalty or card was given.
4:22 – Goal Mexico! It's a long straight shot that looks too high, but it hit the crossbar and went in.
4:22 – According to the announcers, the equalizer was scored by the guy "most likely not to score." Are they saying he sucks?
4:22 - The goal-scorer was a fella by the name of Israel Castro…he wears number 8 so he’s alright if you ask me.
4:24 – Another non-call in which Donovan gets hit hard by a Mexico defender.
4:27 – Pushing foul on USA…I'm starting to sense a bit of a ref bias
4:30 – Yellow card on USA's Onyewu…he’s out for the next game against El Salvador. I think a few earlier tackles by Mexico were a bit worse than his.
4:32 – Yellow card on No. 15 DeMerit…this one looked more deserving of a card than Onyewu's.
4:33 – Apparently DeMerit is the guy from Green Bay…c’mon, he’s just trying to summon his inner Reggie White. Cut him a break.
4:35 – I turn my back to the TV for a minute, and it seems that Mexico's De Santos did something that should have warranted a yellow card. Of course, he didn't get one.
4:37 – USA finally gets a whistle for them, but no card. They have the ball in a ”dangerous position” for a free kick.
4:38 – Free kick sails out of bounds left of the goal. To me, it looked like a US player was pulled down which I'm pretty sure is illegal, but the refs disagree I suppose.
4:47 – We’re approaching the final minute of the first half
4:48 – The announcers are calling it a successful first half for the US, and the goal given up by them was not a cheap one.
4:49 – USA's Bocanegra gets a yellow card, which is the third one for the US. Now, I'm getting weary of the officiating because some of the tackles by the Mexico players were a lot worse than Bocanegra's.
4:50 – At the end of the first half, the score is 1-1. The referee's calls were a bit spotty in my opinion.
5:06 – The second half is underway.
5:17 – Mexico made a substitution, apparently a legend is being subbed out for the next generation of something
5:19 – Not to be outdone, the US makes a substitution as well.
5:20 – Santos almost had a goal, but Howard punches it out beautifully
5:24 – Game is slowing down…short American attention span is starting to kick in.
5:30 – Another unnecessary penalty is called against the US. It seems that all the calls are going Mexico’s way
5:32 – Davies almost had another goal. He goes for the header but just barely misses. I think it would have gone in if he was able to hit it.
5:33 – Yet again, Davies almost gets another goal, but he is just barely offsides as he is running down the pitch. I am liking this Davies fella with his earlier goal and his recent near-goals.
5:33 – Nery Castillo checks in. Apparently, he is one of the most talented but also one of the most controversial players in Mexico. What the hell does that even mean?
5:35 – Free kick for Mexico right in front of the box. The ball looks like it was deflected by somebody's hand and is called out on the US so it's Mexico ball.
5:36 – Now it's getting interesting for me. A fight is breaking out with some pushing and shoving going down. I hope this really escalates a la "Malice at the Palace" or Miami/FIU.
5:37 – I have no idea who is part of the fight, but look for a card soon.
5:37 – Wow, I knew these soccer guys flopped but even when they are shoved they are over-exaggerating it. Be a man!
5:38 – US substitution: Jozy Altidore comes in, Davies is out. No, not Davies, he's really good.
5:41 – Another Degree corner kick for Mexico
5:43 – Goal Mexico. Once again, the ball almost goes above the crossbar but stays in.
5:44 – It seems that the goal was scored by a character by the name of Miguel Sabah.
5:48 – 5 minutes and some change left, US needs to hold on to the ball so they can do something.
5:49 – One thing that weirded me out about soccer is that once a player is substituted, he’s out for good. I don't like that, I wouldn’t mind getting Davies back in.
5:50 – Corner kick USA, punched away by the goalie out of bounds, throw in for USA.
5:51 – Announcers are pretty much declaring the game over. US still have a chance in my estimation.
5:54 – US have the ball at midfield, one last chance.
5:55 – Ball is kicked deep, Mexico recovers and take it down field.
5:55 – Time over, Mexico wins. I’m not too thrilled.
5:57 – Ooh, a Degree for men commercial that I see every day in Spanish. That’s quite exciting. Guess those 5 levels of high school Spanish paid off in the end after all.
Final Thoughts: That was a pretty exciting game for me. I enjoyed it especially since it was the first game I watched since the 2006 World Cup. I see what people are talking about with the USA-Mexico rivalry, it was enjoyable and hard-fought.
It just seemed to me that too many of the calls went Mexico's way which doesn't make me too happy. I don't know what this means for the US going into the next World Cup, but I think that they did pretty well in a game that many people said they really didn't have a chance in.