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A Day Of Footie Atonement

Illustration for article titled A Day Of Footie Atonement

David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.

Imagine how much more pleasant my weekend would have been if only I had heeded Osama's plea and converted to Islam. Normally I listen to my fellow Gunners — and Bin Laden is a well-documented supporter of Arsenal — but in this case I like alcohol too much, and I haven't had a thing for virgins since 2005.


Believe me, I thought about it. With the Days of Atonement nearly upon us, it would have gotten me out of 24 hours of fasting (OK, seven), and I won't have to repent for all the sins I have committed against MLS and David Beckham.

But remaining true to my tribe made watching England open up a can of whup-tuchus with a 3-0 beatdown of Israel that much more painful, to say nothing of the $20 Setanta shook us down for at Kinsale Tavern. After all, when it comes down to choosing between the British and Yiddish, I vote with my foreskin — or what's left of it.

Not that I gave Yossi's Posse much of a chance against the cortisone-injected toes of Gerrard and Terry plus the withering pace of Wright-Phillips who was subbing for the busted, rusting chassis that is Beckham. It's one thing to hold England to a scoreless draw in Tel Aviv, as Israel heroically did in the first leg of their Euro qualifier, but it's asking an awful lot to expect a similar miracle at Wembley where the baying, flag-waving Brits act as if it's still 1966.

But, sweet Moses, did Israel have to make it so easy for England, the same England, I might add, that couldn't score a goal against Macefuckindonia? Did they have to play so cluelessly and tentatively that they made Owen and Heskey look like Ronaldo and Ronaldinho instead of a couple of guys who last lit it up against Argentina in 1998? I know Jews don't like to exert themselves on the Sabbath, but how could three Israeli defenders allow Owen to spin like a dreidel in the box and smash in that second goal unmolested? Mercifully, I didn't get to see the first goal because just as Joe Cole curled the ball toward Wright-Phillips — who was as wide open as the Negev desert — Setanta lost the transmission. "That's what happens," said my friend British Brad, as riot police used tear gas to quell all the rowdy fans at Kinsale screaming for a refund, "when you put a TV company in the hands of the Irish rather than the Jews."

Unlike me, British Brad was torn between rooting for his tribesmen or the country of his birth to run up the score, because that morning he had put down five pounds at 12-1 for England to win 4-0. When Micah Richard powered in a free header in the 66th minute, thanks to Owen barging into the Israeli keeper, BB actually looked like he might salvage something from this wretched morning other than the three Guinnesses he had consumed by noon. Me, I took a small measure of delight from watching Benayoun, otherwise useless all game, crunch into his club teammate Gerrard, a tackle that could be heard all the way in Liverpool .. where Rafa Benitez was pulling out the hairs from his chiney, chin, chin, as he agonized over Stevie G's damaged toe. When Gerrard hobbled off, Benayoun must have been hoping that he had improved his chances of getting some more playing time in Liverpool's crowded midfield.

Minutes later, Owen dribbled around the keeper and was about to make British Brad $100 richer when an Israeli defender slid in at the last second to clear the ball off the line. "It's OK," said a forlorn BB, "I still have enough money to last me the rest of my life. So long as I don't buy anything."