Hey, sports fans! How ’bout that US soccer team? Our dauntless squad of sporting pseudo-celebrities continue their unlikely climb up the World Cup bracket, having defeated Algeria yesterday, 1 – 0. This means that the Americans will play Ghana on Saturday, and that for at least three more days, people in the United States will pretend they understand, enjoy, and care about soccer.
I kid, I kid. Some of my best friends are soccer players. I have nothing but respect for the tremendous stresses they put on their bodies, and the relentless effort with which they play. But, come on, let’s face it: when it comes to the World Cup, America has always been the red-headed stepchild of the competition. We’re the people who were so arrogant and xenophobic that we had to make up two entirely new sports (warped and bastardized adaptations of existing games, to be sure) just to keep the world’s most popular and most practical game from taking root here in this, our nation, unique among all others. But once every four years, we kick the doors open to whatever international venue FIFA has chosen and swagger in like we’ve been a part of it since the Aztecs were playing for beating human hearts instead of a garish golden trophy. It’s so shallow, so disingenuous, so…American.
But, seriously, I wish Team USA the best. I mean, it’s hard not to cheer on these guys. Strictly by virtue of being the American soccer team, they’re underdogs. Who doesn’t want to root for the underdog? Plus, when you have squad members like Benny Feilhaber putting videos like the one embedded below on YouTube for the world to see, how could you not want to see them succeed?
Can I just say…honestly, Benny Feilhaber? It’s not enough that you’re good enough at soccer to earn a place on the national squad which competes in the world’s most elite competition, but you have to be humorous and self-effacing as well? Is it really necessary for you to be a better lip-syncher than any contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, what with your funny faces and diva gesticulations and punning literal dance moves? Must you have a perfectly shaped dome, a strong and confident chin, rakish facial hair that I’m sure requires little or no maintenance (it just grows in cool that way), pouty lips that frame a dental hygienist’s wet dream, and those steel cobalt eyes that are simultaneously so cold and so warm, so hard and so soft, which slowly and inexorably draw me in, more effective than any state fair hypnotist’s pocket watch could ever hope to be, and delicately yet insistently command me to surrender control to you, Benny Feilhaber? Why must you toy with us mere mortals on this earthly realm, Benny Feilhaber? Do you understand the paradox your very existence suggests? Tell me, Benny Feilhaber, is it fair?
I submit that it is not.