I did it. I caved to the cultural and societal pressure. I took the advice of my nephew and my son. I was prepared for an hour of relentless nothingness. I steeled myself for the slow motion, yawn-inducing experience of watching grown women running aimlessly by telling myself that it was my patriotic duty. As if on cue, there was my President urging all of America to root, root root for our women. Well, I was going to do it, even if it killed me.
Our girls had already dispatched the Germans several days ago and now would be facing the Japanese. Sound familiar? All of the studio commentators were unanimous in their opinion that Tokyo's finest didn't stand a chance. I was dubious. They looked awfully determined. While the American girls were all smiles during the pregame introductions, the Japanese looked dead serious, grim and single minded, especially during the playing of their nation's anthem, a slow dirge that must have been composed the day after Hiroshima. I became fearful of them, suspicious of the lengths to which they might go for victory.
My biggest complaint about soccer is the amount of time that players spend seemingly determined not to score. There is much pointless passing, fruitless scampering, and dramatic flailing about for no apparent purpose. So, none of the knowledge about soccer I had managed to accrue had prepared me for what I was about to see. Within the first ten minutes, the Americans had scored 4 goals, three of them by one player, and one of those from a mile away! This is the baseball equivalent of a team hitting three grand slams in the top of the first inning, the football equivalent of scoring five touchdowns in the first quarter. The Japanese players looked shell shocked, as if they couldn't believe what they were seeing, a sort of a Pearl Harbor in reverse.
As is always the case, the best part of the telecast were the camera shots of brightly painted and wildly enthusiastic fans. I have to hand it to soccer fans, they are the absolute best when it comes to unhinged passion.
By the end of the first half the Japanese had managed a face saving goal, but the game was essentially over after that initial burst of goal-scoring lunacy by the Americans. I had done my part. I had watched the entire first half! But then the Nationals game came on ESPN. I switched over to watch Bryce Harper hit, but I kept a sharp eye on the ticker at the bottom of the screen for any Japanese treachery in the second half. I was fully prepared to switch back if something nefarious was afoot. But it was not to be. The U.S. Won in a rout 5-2. World Cup champions! Good for them.