“Argentina tried to be cute, Germany aimed for handsome.” –West Coast Craig
CORCOVADO, BRAZIL – No, Messi Against the Mannschaft was not a feature playing at West Hollywood’s Tomkat Theater, it was the culmination of sixty-four soccer matches across the first month of summer that pretty much dominated the zeitgeist by sheer force of global will. For most readers of this site, our long national nightmare is finally over… but for others, a sense of emptiness sets in. Now our ready-made rationalization for going to a pub and drinking during the workday is over.
At least we had a compelling inter-continental contest in the end that lived up to its billing.
While the record for most goals had already been set this World Cup, a scoreless final may have felt inevitable…but even as it came to pass, it stayed entertaining thanks to great defense and some dramatic misses, and a wonderful game-winner, sparing us the dreaded PKs (though I’ve somewhat come around on them: It’s not just a coin flip, there’s a lot of stuff going on there, and they are pretty dramatic you have to admit).
Zee Germans had marched through this tournament without breaking a sweat, skillfully and efficiently adapting and outlasting when they weren’t outright hammering teams – like the humiliated hosts.
The Argentinians weren’t quite as dynamic, openly relying on the World’s Greatest Player (sorry, Ronaldo), but they had a few things going for them: No European team had raised the Cup in South America, and they had the schadenfreude of playing in their arch rival’s home stadium. Unfortunately, while you can argue that the inter-continental clash of styles doesn’t mean as much as it used to–they mostly all play each other in the same leagues and systems these days–there was a clear difference between these styles that boiled down to this: Argentina tried to be cute, Germany aimed for handsome.
Higuain, who seemed to live off-sides, was standing behind the defensive line again when an errant German header landed at his feet, and not believing his luck he – shanked it… Rodrigo Palacio found himself with the ball in the German box near the end of regulation and instead of hammering it home, it looked like he tried to alley-oop a pass to himself, for even less style points than his horrific mid-skull rat-tail thing. Even the great Messi wasn’t immune; his best chance shaved at too fine an angle and pushing wide by inches. Messi looked so sad afterwards. Almost as sad as Pele appearing in Subway commercials.
My closing thought (or Klose-ing thought): Messi may have been an arguably sentimental winner of the Golden Ball trophy as the tourney’s best player, cold comfort for sure, but one person who came out of this World Cup with his legend sincerely cemented was announcer Ian Darke. How good was he? He was so good he seamlessly earned his paycheck when he convincingly pitched an upcoming New York Red Bulls vs Philadelphia Union match and said “If you’ve enjoyed watching this World Cup, then you’ll enjoy watching the MLS!” For most folks, that translates to: See you in four years!
Walter “Grinding Ax” Hynes, tomorrow.