The Seattle Sounders won a wild one last night against CD Olimpia, 2-1, in last-minute stoppage-time drama and controversy. Last night’s victory was a narrative as crafted by a master storyteller.
Poetically, it was mostly the boys of summer, the dirty eleven who limped through June and July losing 8 of 9, who took the pitch and the victory last night. A key victory in a CCL campaign that could’ve died a very premature death. For most of the night, Like June and July, the Sounders couldn’t buy a goal. Kovar hit the post (TWICE!), Pineda just skied a dangerous free kick, Neagle was a hair off sides and other juicy chances were left wanting.
And on top of that unfortunately familiar frustration was all the elements of farce. The game was so CONCACAF. Mercurial ref? Check. Wild flopping? Check? Dirty fouls? Check. Bench clearing melee? Check. And despite all of that, the Sounders showed their character and gritted out a victory. Sure “grit” and “character” are neo-Platonic bullcrap that can’t be quantified (and in 21st century tech-addicted America if it isn’t objective, it doesn’t exist), but they were clearly on display in Sodo.
Soccer is postmodern. The game leaves a lot of the big decisions up to a single referee: the amount of stoppage time, the severity of a foul, offsides, etc. With no instant replay, one official stands on the pitch and calls it how he, inevitably subjectively, sees it.
That is one thing I love about soccer. The human animal craves patterns and context and causality. But, like a Kurt Vonnegut novel, those things rarely exist in real life. Life is chaos and random and mostly meaningless. But sometimes life clicks like tumblers in a lock. And when it does, everything feels sooo right.
Standing in the cheap seats last night, I witnessed the most perfectly woven narrative I have ever seen contained in a sporting event. Sounders vs. Olimpia was storytelling at its best. The game had it all: good versus evil, rising action, redemption and catharsis all at once. The game was a Shakespearian comedy, having all the elements of tragedy, but with a happy ending.
Now it’s tempting to say “team of destiny,” but that really doesn’t mean anything. Unless you think Captain Brad Evans icing a cold-blooded penalty to take all 3 points mere days after again being demoted from a preferred position is poetry.
I sure as hell do.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,