Ten years ago yesterday, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team completed one of its biggest and most epic victories of all time, a 3-2 nail-bitter in the World Cup over Portugal. It had everything—drama, brilliance, grittiness and, most importantly, it gave the fans hope. Hope that a team nobody expected to do anything ever on the big stage could hang with some of the top footballing nations. I watched that match, alone by myself, at 5:00 am. You better believe the silent fist-pumps and muted fuck yeahs were abundant.
Fast-forward exactly 10 years later to yesterday’s epic Boston Celtics win. While the two teams are not necessarily similar in their makeup (Celtics are grizzled vets while that USMNT outfit sported two up-and-comers named Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasely) the games certainly had a similar feel for me.
For starters, due to work, I was forced to watch yesterday’s game alone on the DVR, late into the wee hours of the morning. Yes, last night’s game was by accompanied by something I could not swing as a 16-year-old—two glasses of vodka (isn’t growing up great!)—but you better believe the evening was once again filled with silent fist-pumps and muted fuck yeahs.
My favorite play—Rondo’s tip-pass rebound to Mickael Peaches for an ice-cold, momentum-shifting trey—encouraged flashbacks of Brian McBride’s gutsy, game-winning, diving header. Here are two guys, with no regard for their own human life, sacrificing their bodies for the name on the front of their shirt.
We all become jaded when we get older—in terms of just about anything, really, but particularly as far as sports go. I mean, how many NBA games have we all watched over the years? How many soccer games have I wasted my time freaking out over? Here we go, another pick-and-roll, another corner kick. Every once in a while though, we are reminded why we care so much about people we have never met playing a silly game.
That reminder: hope. Hope that a group everyone cast off as too old, injured, slow and tired can still hang with the Heatles. Hope that another title is still possible. And hope that teams playing as teams are still critical in a star-driven league.
Last night’s game pumped me so full of hope I could barely sleep. The Celtics can do this again, as a unit, like it should be. This win was a fun as that soccer game was 10 years ago.
Thank you, sports.