June 10, 2002

Four pints equal one point.: msacheson stays up late to watch the World Cup US-S. Korea match.

Tony, the bartender at McNally's Irish Pub in Oakland, was being coy. When I asked if he would be open late on a Sunday night to show the US-S. Korea match (Pacific time, the start was 11:30, running until about 1:20), he asked, "Who's calling?" Now, by law, the pub can serve drinks until 2 am, but Tony wanted the normal quiet Sunday night, last call bell at about 11:00. Not to be. By the way, don't let the name fool ya: Tony is not ee-tal-yan, but quite British, thank you very little. He knows his footie. Smartly, I showed up thirty minutes early for the match, when the bar was still riveted to RPM2Night on ESPN2. As I chose my seat carefully (corner, plenty of room to lean on the wall for support), the bar filled with people who hadn't seen this side of Sunday night since finals week in college. I settled in near Melissa, a TV producer who covers MLS and WUSA games, and her boyfriend Peter. He wears a Nike soccer shirt but doesn't understand why there's no two minute warning in this football game. On the other hand, Melissa thinks Landon Donovan is hot. She is soccer-smart. When the U.S. scored on it's only chance of the first half, the place erupted. I haven't seen McNally's like this since the wet T-shirt contest on St. Patrick's Day. If I had watched this game at home, I'd have really ticked off the missus with my shirt off, cartwheeling GOOOOOOAAALLL celebration. As it was, I had tucked my wife in at 10:30, 'borrowed' some cash from her purse and gone to the pub. Oh, yeah: Great goal by Clint Mathis. Bad look with the mohawk. I grabbed pint #2 just after the goal, beating the halftime rush. Potty break and refill woud come near end of halftime. Plan your drink, drink your plan, my Dad always said. Play-o-the-game, I say: Friedel stopped a penalty kick that would have evened the score and energized the home crowd at halftime. The save was as huge as the U.S. scoring a goal. The Koreans really controlled the play throughout. Good scoring chances early, speed to the ball. The U.S. midfield and defense connected on less passes than Ryan Leaf. No control for the U.S., but the Americans maintained the lead. God Bless Friedel. As the second half wore on, I began to sense that the U.S. attackers were dropping back more often, protecting the 1-0 lead instead of trying to pad it. If the U.S. didn't attack at all, then the Korean could 'cheat' forward a little and go nuts. Also, I sensed that getting pints #3 AND #4 at the end of half was smart. Tony rang the bell for last call in the 75th minute. Instead of rushing the bar and missing action, I had a full pint o' Guinness in front of me still. Sure-nuf, the Koreans scored the equalizer in the 78th minute. The goal was a nice volley and header. Friedel had no chance and barely moved. But the foul call that set up the shot was bogus. Replays showed that before the Korean attacker tumbled, outside the area, the U.S. defender had poked the ball away and taken out the Korean's legs after playing the ball. The referee, from the supposedly-neutral country of Switzerland, awarded the home team a chance it took advantage of. That's it: no more Swiss cheese, Swiss Miss or Martina Hingis for me. I'm even emptying my Swiss bank accounts and putting my money in the Bahamas. Holding onto a 1-1 tie was imperative for the Americans, and at least that was accomplished. Me, I enjoyed my time out of the house and the company of others. I wonder if McNally's will be open for the 4:30 am PDT game against Poland on June 14?

posted by msacheson to commentary at 05:27 AM - 0 comments

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.