It’s never too early to panic in soccer. It’s never too early for the critics to bring out the surgical instruments for use on the coach and the players, without anesthetic. It’s all madness of course, all nonsense, feeding on the savory flavors of fatalism.
So let’s join in! Help! The USA failed to open its World Cup qualifying account, losing to Honduras, 2-1 on Wednesday. In sweltering Central American heat, the players trudged around, some of them looking as if their pre-game orange slices had been spiked by NyQuil. The pressure to win the next game against Costa Rica in March is on. A loss then will put the USA in big trouble heading to game three – away to Mexico.
Fatalism - what would happen if the USA finds itself in the darkest of caves, zero points after three games? The sounds of waves on the beaches of Rio getting further away. What if we need a miracle by June?
Hmm…let’s see…well, it is Oscar season…open the popcorn…THE SAVIOR starring Landon Donovan.
Donovan has taken to the wilderness to discover himself. He is “taking a break.” An odd ventilation for a high profile soccer star to open when not yet old enough for the retirement home. Searching for answers – the temptation of money and success are not enough for him. The rituals of yearly acclaim, the same daft questions to answer, the confines of existence within four lines. He is struck by emptiness. And he lives in Los Angeles.
Roll it. He returns from the wilderness. And the light shines on old glories.
He has played the role before, scoring in the last second against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup to keep the dream alive. Jesus Saved But Donovan Scored on the Re-bound.
US searchlights will be scouring the planet to locate the man. A message will be sent. Landon, your country needs you. For the sound of the waves on the beaches of Rio will bring peace to American soccer fans. Whatever cave you are in, come out, and lead us to the promised land.
Roll the Credits.
Read Alan Black’s weekly soccer column in the San Francisco Chronicle, every Friday.