Monday, September 10, 2007

20 Hours of Soccer

9:00 Sunday: my hopelessly overmatched women's team took the field against a new team with nifty new uniforms and stenciled shorts and color-coordinated practice balls, for chrissakes. The temperature was already pushing the mid-90s, the humidity was high, the sky cloudless, and the air dead still. By the ten-minute mark in the second half it was 5-0 not in our favor and the left back was vomiting on the sideline. One of the assistant referees sympathetically asked me if it was my first time playing keeper. No, I said, amazingly managing to both keep my voice calm and not invite him to eat a bag of dicks, it only looks that way.

1:00 Sunday: I hit the line with my assistant referee's flag for the first of two women's matches I was working. The temperature was now well over 100, the sun absolutely beating down, no breeze, a few clouds on the horizon laughing at me. By halftime I had stopped sweating and was starting to shiver. Started in on gallon of water #2 for the day and hoped I wouldn't pass out.

3:00 Sunday: the second match started with a light breeze and a large cloud mercifully parked over the field. The teams were equally grabby and pushy, so I didn't feel inordinately awful about my brain being too fried to be able to decide who to call a foul on.

5:00 Sunday: returned home and made token effort at urination after eight hours in the sun and a couple of gallons of water and Gatorade. Was not overly successful.

7:00 Sunday: parked freshly showered but exhausted butt in bleachers at Murphey Field to watch the Arizona Wildcats women's team take on #4 Texas, expecting a blowout. The Cats were down to their #3 keeper, freshman Danielle Nicolai, after knee injuries sidelined the top two keepers in the past week. She stopped everything and did everything short of standing on her head to shut out the Longhorns. Jasmin Day scored a great goal early on and cemented her status as my favorite player on the team--the woman has an amazing work rate, moves beautifully off the ball, and as a converted high jumper can cover ground and get up for balls in the air like nobody else. 2-0 Arizona in the most intense game I have seen in person at any level.

5:00 am Monday: the Women's World Cup opened with defending champion Germany taking on Argentina. It was close for about 5 minutes and finished 11-0 and wasn't as close as the score indicated. Yes, the Argentine keeper bookended the scoring with own goals. But I took exception at Tony DiCicco's blasting her for each of the first, oh, eight goals or so before noticing that the German crosses were deadly accurate and the German target players were completely unmarked in front of the net. JP Dellacamera, who makes me nuts under any circumstances, piled on so eagerly it makes me think he must have been the consummate weasel sidekick as a boy, waiting to see who the bully would target and soften up with a few punches before joining in to taunt from a safe distance. The Argentine defense was caught ball-watching on nearly all of those goals, leaving two or three German attackers wide open. When you watch an EPL match, a ball that curves in from 40 yards directly to the foot of an unmarked attacker on the 6 for a one-touch volley to the opposite post usually elicits a comment of "nothing the keeper could do on that one." Get off it, DiCicco. I liked you much better as a coach than a color man.

So it's begun, meaning my sleep schedule will be severely disrupted for the next couple of weeks, and if ESPN keeps running those fucking Jim Mike ads at this morning's clip of four per game, my eating will be disrupted as well. And possibly the flat-screen when I heave a box fan through it.

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