On the eve of Mexico vs. the United States in the Gold Cup Final, I reflect on Daniel's passion for the sport. I am only now coming to appreciate the beauty and complexity of soccer as I try to see it through Daniels eyes.
Ode to Futbol
“Patience, paa-tience, Paaa-tience…
Keep it, Keeep it
You got time, you got time”
The game is very fluid
guys taking breaks as needed
a breather on the way
to get some water.
I watch a pick up game
seemingly simple and informal
soon I’m in awe
players from all over the world, literally:
I counted five or six different races, nationalities.
Old guys playing
with the joy of a child
young guys playing with egos in check
the pace dictated solely by strategy
moving the ball creating space
passing, passing, passing
short distances across to center, or
long and back out to the halfway line
to slow the game down.
“Slow it down!”
“Make him commit, make him commit”
The young, stocky Chinese man
now in enemy territory
moves toward the defender
kicks it sharply to the older Vietnamese man
his hamstring wrapped
cutting towards the goal
just 5 feet away
the goalie freezes
the ball squirts through the narrow goal
small orange cones just 3 feet apart
the quick kick
accurate hard and swift.
The goalkeeper never had a chance.
the tall scrawny white kid
controls the ball
passes unselfishly to the left wing
the forward attacks
the goalkeeper is there
kicks out and towards the middle.
The kid gets the ball again and
this time measured and sure
he delivers a goal
the ball is still rolling
he is pumped, ecstatic even,
yet for all his skill and grace,
He downplays his shot with a soft exuberance.
As if to prove that his earlier goal was no fluke
the Vietnamese man shows off his dexterity again:
It’s three on one
move into attack mode
the Goalkeeper is all by himself
he charges the outside forward
to force a play
the left forward passes
the veteran Vietnamese dude
breaks to the goal
he taps the ball with his left foot
absorbing the force of the pass
effortlessly (or so it seemed)
switches the ball to his right foot
for an easy shot with his outside toe
The Goalkeeper had not given up
and was back in his face
to make a play of it…
all in one motion
the Vietnamese man
pulls the ball and scores with a reverse kick behind his body…
feet of fire!
They know the score
They go home,
back to the office,
back to the world of reality
refreshed and ready.
I in turn,
I am completely satisfied,
so glad to have witnessed
such a triumph of the human spirit
to play for the sake of playing
to try because it feels good,
to never give up.