The Sharks have been eliminated from the playoffs on a gut-punch ending: A missed call by the refs led to a tying goal with thirteen seconds left in regulation time, then in the second overtime the puck took a bizarre bounce and landed on the stick of the only guy on the ice who knew where it was.
For the final, I think I have to root for Boston. I’d lean Canadian, but Vancouver has the Sedin twins, who think their little douchebag goatees constitute playoff beards. They are wrong. Boston, on the other hand, ran Joe Thornton out of town, much to the benefit of San Jose. I was really hoping for a Sharks-Bruins final.
So I’m sitting a Goosetown, a local bar with a ‘dive’ leaning, not afraid to let the juke box get loud (Jane’s Addiction right now), which inexplicably has an excellent WiFi signal. On the big screen is San Jose’s other professional team, one I once saw in person. The San Jose Earthquake is playing the Chicago Fire, kicking a ball listlessly around a field.
That both teams are named after disasters that caused suffering and death is probably indicative of something. For a while this game was just goalkeepers kicking the ball back and forth. At the half, there had been exactly one shot on goal. The other four shots were off-target, but one of them hit both posts. Credit where due, that was a pretty damn exciting moment, and one that provides a payoff for the fan(s).
Overall, however, the level of play is pretty low. I’ve not seen anyone lying on the grass with a feigned injury, but that’s largely because defenders seem afraid of the ball. Set plays send the ball into empty space and passes are not crisp. Overall, there is a lack of hustle, and that’s what I can’t forgive. You can suck at a sport, but if you give it your all I’m with you. The game would seem a lot less tedious if the guys on the field showed more urgency.
So: Soccer without people lying on the ground crying like little girls (not little girls who play soccer – in this country those kids are tough) is not the only problem with the game. It may remain forever a mystery what soccer would be like if the best players in the world actually played like men, let alone like middle-school American girls.