Thursday, August 23, 2007

More soccer

Yesterday I ran a seven-miler during the noon hour at an 8:24 pace, the best run I've had in weeks. I ran across an office mate running on the Mall and I signaled for him to join me on a "Bridge Run" over to Virginia on the Memorial Bridge and back to DC on the 14th Street Bridge. He was game and we pushed each other. He's going to his H.S. reunion in Germany in a matter of weeks and wants to look good for it so he's working hard in the interim (he's faster than me). He said they won't be doing any running but they're going to drink a lot of beer. German beer out of steins.

My kind of reunion. My last H.S. reunion only confronted me with the fact that both of my high school roommates have passed on. Sigh.

Yesterday evening I went with someone from work to see a MLS game at RFK, the second professional soccer game I've seen in two weeks. It's a long story. (Whatever happened to the NASL?)

Anyway, the seats were highest up in the extreme corner of the lower deck. I could look down and see the top of the head of anyone taking a corner kick from that side. There was a foul pole in the way of my seeing some of the goalie box. (RFK is a baseball stadium.)

Good thing we arrived on time. DC United scored in the sixth and eighth minutes, both goals occurring right in front of us. It was pretty exciting. That was pretty much it. The other 82 minutes, the two sides swapped penalty kicks. DC beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1.

There were lots of balls the attacking team sent from inside their opponent's goalie box back to midfield, then back to their end of the field, then back to their goalie. This apparently is how you set up the attack in soccer, by slowly sending the ball backwards 80 yards.

The GK would hold the ball for forty seconds while everyone on offense and defense settled into their places on the long field nicely and then he'd loft a 50-50 ball back to midfield. This is as exciting as watching Mark Brunnell take snaps to throw passes.

But the DC United penalty kick was historic. You see, there's a guy on the United named Jaime Moreno. He's 33. In his eleven years in the MLS he had scored 108 goals.

He had scored three times this season, all on penalty kicks. His last goal was three months ago.

United Striker Luciano Emilio, this season's leading MLS scorer, was taken down in the box as he got free with the ball. Ignoring both the fullback's and Emilio's obligatory hands beseeching the heavens from their knees, the ref set the ball up on the 12 yard line and signaled for a PK. PK is referee shorthand for, I'm awarding this team an automatic point and probably the game.

Unlike the NBA where the fouled player takes the shot, anyone can shoot the PK. Moreno stepped up to the plate. (Sorry.) At the end of the season, if Emilio misses the scoring crown by one goal, do you think he'll remember this moment in a different light?

The dumb thing about PKs is that the GK can't move until the ball is struck. Motionless one moment, he's diving by guess and by golly the next. Yawn.

So Moreno took this PK and rolled his 109th lifetime goal inside the side of net two feet past one upright bar while the GK dove towards the other upright bar. Egg on your face! I swear the announcer bellowed "goal" as one word for ninety seconds. (Who is #19?)

You see, Moreno broke the record for the most lifetime goals ever in the MLS. Once the announcer had completely run down his copious breath pronouncing the one word "goal" for a minute and a half, he next announced that we could purchase "109, I was there" t-shirts in the concourse. How long were those suckers on ice waiting to be sold?

Here's the problem that soccer has in America as a major professional sport. Have you heard that Hank Aaron's lifetime homerun record was broken earlier this month? Did you hear that Jason Kreis's (who?) lifetime goal record was broken last night? See what I mean?

Next post: If there was $8 in cash lying on the floor in a crowded room that wasn't yours, would you claim it? Come on now! What if it was yours and somebody swifter than you claimed it and stuck it away in their pocket. What would you do? Come on now! It's a jungle out there!


Susan said...

I would not claim the $8. My parents would roll over in their graves if I did!

jeanne said...

I would grab that eight bucks so fast your head would spin.

Dori said...

Sounds like a nice run, Peter. And a great game. The only thing I know about soccer is the color of the ball, but that was an exciting account of the game.

I usually keep the money I find, but last Christmas I attended a dinner at a country club for my husband's work. It was for the senior execs and board directors. During the cocktail hour, someone had dropped a $20. I spotted it after everyone had sat down and I was returning from the restroom. It was impossible to guess whose it was, but it didn't feel right to keep it so I gave it to the waitress. I figured she could use the money more than that crowd anyway. Later I realized it fell out of the pocket of the VP of Marketing while he was sitting at the table, but I wasn't about to ask for it back from the waitress. I can afford to be generous with other people's money. :-)

Mia said...

I love soccer fans =) I'm so jealous you get a chance to see pro games down there...

Looking forward to hearing more about your marathon training to get me hyped for maybe a winter or spring marathon??

So glad to hear you're well again...