Monday, June 14, 2010

Picture Perfect Soccer Saturday

Maybe I don’t understand soccer, but in my book, a win is a win and a tie is a tie. A tie is not a win. In fact, it’s hardly a reason to celebrate. But on Saturday, when USA tied England in one of the first World Cup games of the tournament, the crowd at Director Park (Portland's new piazza in the heart of downtown) went nuts.

I’m stumped.

What’s so great about a miserable score of one to one? I’m the type who needs more points—more goals, people!—to stay entertained. (Good thing Director Park had a beer garden to keep me amused.) Near the end of the match, the JumboTron outside Nordstrom showed groups of crazed fans from New York and Chicago, screaming barbarically at the camera. They all were thrilled to have tied—to have scored one goal.

Perhaps it’s my preference for basketball—a fast-paced sport with which my family is obsessed—or the fact that at age twelve, I was forced to watch my eight-year-old sister play countless games of “soccer” (otherwise known as kick-the-ball-and-chase-it-even-though-there’s-no-plan-and-you-don’t-know-which-way-your-own-goal-is) against my will, but I’m not much one to get pumped for a soccer match. Soccer’s just too dang slow.

So on Saturday, when Jeff realizes we’re driving in circles and looking for Director Park in the wrong place, I’m not upset. We’re supposed to meet friends at the new quadrangle on Ninth and Yamhill, but after succumbing to the Rose Festival’s many detours, we’re turned around. We park, grab a sandwich, and eat as we walk toward Director Park, where we’ve been promised lots of beer and a JumboTron broadcasting USA vs. England. The line to get inside the beer garden is a good twenty minutes long, but we wait patiently until reaching the front.

After USA’s “victory” (I still don’t get it), our group eats and drinks at On Deck on NW 14th and Kearney in the Pearl, and then we relocate to another park—this one with real grass and trees and folks lounging on blankets in the shade—where we sit in a circle and play childhood games such as Duck, Duck Goose and Frisbee. I borrow a baseball and a glove and talk three different people into playing catch with me, something I haven’t done since I was sixteen.

Minus the booze, Saturday is reminiscent of summertime as a kid. It’s picture perfect.

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  1. I love sunny days in Portland...