Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Sportswriter: On the Americans' Annoying Loss to Costa Rica

Besides the fact that I had to wait until my usual bedtime (10p) to begin watching the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Costa Rica last night, the Americans' 3-1 loss was annoying for the following reasons:

1. One frustrating streak continues, while another frustrating streak was (barely) snapped.
Costa Rica's shredding of the Americans last night stretched the latter's winless streak in that Central American country during World Cup qualifying to eight games. Entering last night's match, the Americans were 0-6-1 in World Cup qualifying games played in Costa Rica, with a goal differential of 13-4. Of course, the Yankees' punchless attack and flaccid defense last night ensured the winless record was stretched to 0-7-1 and the goal differential widened to 16-5.

The only bright spot in the evening was Landon Donovan's penalty kick in extra time--in other words, well beyond the point in which it was obvious the Americans would lose--was the first goal the Americans had scored in a World Cup qualifying match in Costa Rica since July 2000.

2. The United States lost to a country smaller than West Virginia.
The United States is nearly 200 times larger than Costa Rica, has 75 times more people than the Central American country, and its GDP is nearly 300 times greater. So when the Americans win a CONCACAF qualifying match, I must always temper my enthusiasm, because, really, shouldn't we always win against such teams as Honduras (Saturday, 8p), El Salvador, and Trinidad and Tobago? To be sure, the passion for soccer in each of these countries is probably 100 times greater per capita than in the United States, where the sport barely registers a blip on the Richter scale of our sporting scene. But still, we lost to puny Costa Rica--again.

3. I hate artificial turf, I hate artificial turf, I hate artificial turf. Did I mention I hate artificial turf?
Turf and soccer mix about as well as, well, I'm too tired (see above) to think of a sharp analogy to stress just how much artificial turf and soccer do not complement one another. Besides all the romantic reasons associated with an anti-turf outlook (the fragrance of grass and earth vs. the stench of plastic and rubber, for instance), there's the simple fact that a quick surface such as the turf at Costa Rica's Estadio Saprissa simply robs the Beautiful Game of all its nuance. Too often, a nice touch or clever pass is simply negated by the ball skittering out of play, beyond the pace of an attacker who would've reached the ball had the game been played on natural turf.

I curse the day when FIFA gave such a playing surface the stamp of approval.

- John C.L. Morgan

Related: The Sportswriter: Thoughts on Tonight's U.S. vs. Mexico World Cup Qualifier (February 11, 2009)
Related: The Sportswriter: Three Ideas for a Better American Soccer Fan (November 1, 2008)

No comments: