It's 5:30 in the morning here in Los Angeles, and Ururguay and Egypt are scoreless in the first half. Of course, by the time you read this, the game will be old news.
Once every four years, life more or less stops for the World Cup. Okay, yes, we all still have to make a living and pay rent, so, annoyingly, people strill expect us to get some actual work done, but it's all secondary to what is going on in Russia over the next month.
It also means that there is only one thing I have any interest in writing about..
I have been trying to decide whether to write about that one time when I tried out for Seattle Sounders. It was several years ago, before they were in MLS. It's a true story, though. I've written about it before, but not here on Simple Displeasures, and the old post is not available anywhere right now. I think I'll save that for another time, though. What I really want to write about today, is that one time I tried - as a forward - to get past a World Cup winning defender.
About ten years ago, when I had begun a five-year stretch splitting my time betwen Seattle and L.A., I played for about four months with an amateur L.A. team named Westside Rovers. We played in a very competitive league. The league had teams with the odd retired ex-professional in their lineup. A few of the teams in this league were incredible. We, on the other hand, were sort of the 'Bad News Bears' of the league. We had some good players, but we were disorganized and haphazard.
One Saturday afternoon we lined up across from a team named Hollywood United.
With a name like that you might expect that they were damn good. It didn't take long for us to go down a goal. They were running circles aorund us.
I was a forward, tasked with finding a way through the Hollywood United defense.
The bald guy in their defensive line...that guy looked familiar to me. He seemed to know every move I wanted to make... BEFORE I made it.
That face....I recognized that face. Where had I seen this guy before?
I needed to stay focused on the game at hand, but I was distracted.
As the game wore on we fell further and further behind - three goals, four goals.
We managed a single goal of our own, thanks to a penalty kick.
Then finally it hit me!
This bald guy! This seemingly telepathic defender who knew my every move....this was Frank Leboeuf!
Frank Leboeuf had raised the World Cup trophy ten years earlier, as a teammate of Zinedine Zidane's on the France National team.
I became a little star struck.
We lost the game...BADLY!
But I left with some sort of new bragging rights.
I never broke through to goal, but I felt okay about it. That guy won the World Cup. I should never have scored against him anyway. I mean, that would have gone against some sort of unwritten world order.
Since then I have occasionally found myself playing the game, "Two truths and a lie," with friends. I always include, as one of my 'truths' the comment that I have played with and against professional soccer players.
Everyone thinks it's a lie.
I didn't accomplish anything going up against Frank Lebeouf, but I was out there on the field against him.
Oh, and Uruguay won the early morning game.
But this World Cup is still young. Many more early mornings to come!
June 15, 2018