A Footy Evening

Thanks to my boys and girls at MFF, ‘lissa and I (and a few soccer-loving friends) enjoyed an complete evening’s worth of world-class quality soccer yesterday. Indeed, a triple-header treat.

We first caught up with the last US Men’s international friendly versus Guatemala. We were 2-0-1 against Canada, Norway, and Japan going in, and only expected to win. Once again the quality play showed that a team composed of MLS players can compete on a world-class level; classic American grit and spit mixed with the simple yet deadly play that distinguishes the best soccer form. 4-0 against a opponent that was clearly outmatched.

Next, we watched the second half of the first leg of the European Champion’s League semifinal between Real Madrid and Arsenal. Spike Lee’s team, outspent in talent and star quality, staggered the Old World by beating the Galaticos at home, the first English team to ever accomplish that feat. Thierry Henry, in a game full of superstars, was the only one backed up the hype by putting the ball into the net.

We then got to the finale match of the night, the second consecutive year that my boys in Barcelona have drawn the infamous English darlings of Russian oil billionaires everywhere, Chelsea. Last year’s home-and-away series was absolutely the best soccer I’ve ever seen. This year Chelsea manager Jose “The Special One” Mourinho’s mouth has been running in a non-stop fashion all the way to kickoff. Barca have been on top of their league from the beginning game of the season, as have Chelsea. This was a match between the best two teams in the world. Barcelona, going down 0-1 off of an excusable own goal, created a come-from-behind victory at Chelsea off the golden-headed dome of Samuel Eto’o. Many gorgeous moments in the match, but the two that remain today are of incoherent rage at Chelsea’s Del Horno for a flying, chest-first tackle of the Lionel “Little Mouse” Messi (I was ready to storm the pitch and punch him myself, hours afterward and thousands of miles away), and fist-pumping joy at the beautiful play which produced the game-winner for the Catalans. Ronaldinho “Horsey” Gaucho, the best player in the world but silent most of the night, swept in a curving cross that Eto’o rammed down into the net with such power that I’m pretty sure Chuck Norris cried.

The best part is, next week we get to feast again. Barcelona plays Chelsea at home, Arsenal play Real at home, and the US MNT play Poland.

February 24th, 2006 | Soccer