The worst thing we can remember from early childhood was the performance of one of our classmates in an oral presentation. Fifth grade. Topic: something ridiculous, like "Why I want to join 4-H," or "How DeBarge changed my life." The kid giving the speech steps up, adjusts his geek strap and his glasses, and then leans over the podium with a sick, green expression on his face before depositing his breakfast--obviously pop tarts and orange juice--in a single, chunky explosion onto the front row of class. He stood for a second, attempted to say something, and despite the screaming of the befouled girls in the front row, was heard to say "I think I ahhhgghhh" before peristalsis went in violent reverse and retrieved the second half of his breakfast, which ended up politely on the floor away from the first targets.
This was bad, but not unprecedented: kids puked in fifth grade all the time, though in Tennessee this might have been less from the bad hygiene and more from the heavy drinking. The coup de grace came as the kid was being escorted from class by the teacher, who was holding the exploding fifth-grader around the shoulders like he wished he had a very long pair of tongs to handle him. Just exiting the room, perched on the threshold of leaving the vinegar smelling pop-tart goo and three permanently traumatized girls behind, he paused in the doorway, lurched again, and released a pestilant, hissing fart with a watery edge everyone instanty assumed was diarrhea. We do not remember this child's name, since we're sure that he committed suicide as soon as he was within grabbing distance of the nearest sharp edge, or perhaps dove head-first off the nearest promontory.
This describes precisely what the United States did in Czechoslovakia in their execrable defeat today. The team appeared to be incapable of performing the simplest of soccer tasks: passing, ball-handling, winning headers, screening oncoming attackers...not a single element failure here, just a litany of flubs more reminiscent of what you'll see in a Saudi match than what anyone expected from the United States in their opener. Zero attacking. Zero ball movement. Zero defensive cohesion.
Nut-punch comes close to describing it, but not quite: that would imply some effort followed by cruel, unjust failure. This was more like abject surrender from the instant they took the field. If there was strategy, it evaporated after Lurch Koller placed his lofty noggin on a cross for the Czechs' first goal. Rosicky only added to the pain by scoring two Shaolin goals that had Arsenal fans eating their coasters with anticipation. (As Kanu informed me, they just signed him. Um, nice move, to say the least.)
Donovan was effete. Beasley flew around the field like an ineffective, rabid emu, sending passes wide and attempting to charge into the mob the Czechs had assembled in the middle despite the Americans' only successes coming down the sidelines. Bobby Convey was deplorable. The only American to show any sign of life was Eddie Johnson, who along with Claudio Reyna were the only Americans who showed any semblance of fight.
We ran out of words when Rosicky scored his third, resorting to animal noises that in any other circumstance would have gotten us kicked out of the establishment. Surrounded by soccer fans, all we got was sympathy. That may be the worst part of this fucktangle. Four years ago, the fans came around to the American team, with more coming on board with each victory. This time we were waiting at the start of the game. Pity our team never showed.