Friday, June 29, 2007

Hanging with the guys

In the Net host Brad Feldman was in town yesterday and emailed me asking about a place to watch the Argentina/U.S. game. Since I don't have GolTV myself, I told him I'd like to see the match somewhere as well.

We settled on the Fox and Hounds pub in Studio City. Brad was stuck in traffic when I got there and found a table in the back. He called to give me an update of how far away he was just as the match started.

He asked if there were any U.S. fans there. I told him that I had spotted one guy in a Beasley "Don't Tread" T-shirt, but the rest of them looked like the usual crowd of expats and hipsters that lounge at the FnH regularly. No one one was wearing a U.S. jersey, for example, and the guys at the table next to me were discussing stock options.

Well, I was wrong, or I just am not good at spotting the underground U.S. fan. Brad was still on the road when Johnson earned the penalty and a cheer went up in the pub. A couple of people jumped off their seats in excitement.

On the other hand, maybe the English expats were thrilled to think arch-enemy Argentina could actually lose to the Yanks.

By the time Brad showed up, Argentina had equalized. There were plenty of nice moments for the U.S., and a few quality plays, but I kept warning Brad that I was worried the U.S. would tire.

"Speed and good teamwork is saving them right now," I pointed out. "The question is, can they hang on long enough to make Argentina nervous? Teams that are anxious make mistakes and that would give Bradley's boys a sliver of a chance."

Just when I was thinking it would only take a bit longer to get to nervous time - Argentina scored.

Frankly, watching in a pub instead of a press box, I understood more completely the undeniable link between alcohol and sports. If the team you're pulling for does well, you want to celebrate, and a soft drink doesn't really cut it. People clinked glasses and ordered rounds for their tables after Johnson scored the penalty.

Of course, when Argentina pulled ahead, a host of long faces looked down at their beer pints and decided they weren't full enough. They ordered more.

"Keep 'em coming," one guy said to the waitress after Argentina tucked away the third goal. "They're not letting up - why should we?"

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