I know that it’s the very end of the work day at the very end of the work week, and there are only so many options available to distract you during these final interminable minutes before the weekend’s sweet release from responsibility, but I cannot in good faith advise you to spend even a minute of it watching this sad excuse of a soccer game between the USMNT and Cuba.
You probably saw the U.S.’s lineup for the curiously timed match and were intrigued by the possibilities of some real entertainment to close out the week. Two true strikers, a young and promising goalkeeper, the rare Julian Green sighting, and of course the Wonderteen himself. All of that young and exciting firepower, pitted against a weak Cuba team—it had to mean fun and goals, right?
Well, if you made the mistake of tuning in for the kickoff, you probably immediately realized the problem with that thinking. Namely, that the “grass” “pitch” the “soccer game” was supposed to be “played” on looks like the backyard of that creepy old lady whom all the kids in town claim is a witch. There’s just about as much brown and yellow on the field as green, and more little potholes and barren spots than continuous stretches of grass. There was no way these beautiful attacking cherubs of ours would be able to pass and dribble or even control the ball with the assuredness needed to put together the kind of performance we’d otherwise expect from this group, or even a display that was merely watchable.
Sure enough, both teams have spent basically the entire first half punting the ball as far forward as possible, hoping for it to hit a divot and bounce backwards to prevent it from running out of bounds before an on-charging attacker can get to it. It’s nearly impossible to run with the ball and extremely hard to judge the trajectory of any bouncing pass (and with the uneven pitch, every pass is a bouncing pass). The game has sucked so far, and there is no reason to believe it will get any better in what’s left of the second half.
Chris Wondolowski just scored the go-ahead goal, conjured in unremarkable fashion, and thus the USMNT will probably go home happy as long as Cuba don’t haphazardly bundle their way into an equalizer. But after seeing the pitch in this condition, and hearing the announcers talk about how the stadium has no running water and that the game was played at this odd hour because they needed to wrap the whole thing up while there was still daylight because the floodlights don’t work or something, the only real winner today is capitalism. So hooray America!