The pre-game shift was intense but manageable. Families decked out in the red, white and blue, a few young folk who may have been wearing the same kit since the Independence day celebrations the night before, the odd pair in blue jerseys sporting a rising sun painted on their cheeks, piling in to get a feed and a beer or three in them before heading off to the stadium where the price of hotdogs rises exponentially and the only alcohol available is a choice cat-piss or watered-down cat piss. The rush was over by about 3, the last of the customers off to watch the game live gone by 20-to. Vancouver woke up yesterday to a sky of red and yellow, a layer of smoke and ash from one of the many raging wildfires colouring the sunlight like stained glass. I growled out a greeting along the lines of “something’s on fire” to one of my room mates and remembered a few of the blood red sunsets I’d seen back home. By the time the day was over the city would be reminiscent of old stereotypes of London covered in smog and the air would taste like ash. But before then two teams of women, one from across the sea in Japan and the other from across the border in the USA, needed to sort out who’d be wearing the crown as queens of football for the next four years, and everyone was expecting a hell of a match.
And it fuckin’ was. One of the bartenders and I ducked into one of the places nearby to grab some food that we hadn’t had a hundred times before and keep an eye on the game, with her boyfriend due to join us there. We settled in to what I’d heard predicted time and again would be a long, low-scoring battle of attrition between two top teams. My co-worker ducked off not long after kick-off to the restroom. Not long after that the Americans had a corner. I was watching with some interest, expecting the Japanese to go on the counter-attack as soon as… Holy shit the Americans scored. A section of the back wall and corner of the restaurant burst into cheers and it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out where they were from. My friend came back.
“The Americans just scored,” I said.
She responded with some equivalent of “No way!”
Then the Americans scored again. The back wall of patrons exploded in cheers again. I think I swore quite loudly. My friend was shocked at how little time had passed since the beginning of the game. I began trying to assure her (and myself) that the Japanese could recover, that being 2-nil down wasn’t the end of the world. They could still win it.
Then they scored a third goal. Bloody hell. Was that the same girl who scored the second? I was sure it was the same who’d scored the first. Yep. Nup. Carli Lloyd scored the first two. Lauren Holliday scored the third. Right. Good. Bit of variety in their scoring. Could the Japanese still-
Nope. Carli Lloyd scores again, for her third and final goal of the match and the USA sit at 4 nil. I can’t see the timer on the television, since I’m a touch short-sighted (just barely legal to drive without glasses) so I check my watch. Christ. It’s only been about fifteen minutes. Great goal though, straight over the Japanese goalie who’d strayed too far from her line, kicked from the American half of the field. Even still, she almost reached it. Almost…
My colleague’s boyfriend arrived, we ordered food, and didn’t pay near as much attention to the game. I look over everytime part of the restaurant cheers, but the result had been more or less decided. The Japanese fight back, and a 5-2 loss has a little less sting than a 4-0 loss would. Maybe. Possibly. Probably still sucks. But goddamn, well done Team USA. A well-earned and well-deserved win. I’m positive the Matildas would’ve beaten you in what would have been a fantastic second outing, but such is life. They’ll get you at the Olympics next year. Yes, they will. Yes, they will. It doesn’t matter if I’m biased, so are you! Well, we’ll just see, won’t we?
We had to return to work before the end of the game and watched the trophy ceremony while preparing for the inevitable post-game rush of Yanks celebrating what was a fantastic victory.
Something that was a little disappointing was the number of people cheering for the Japanese out of an attitude of wanting “anyone but the Americans” to win. It seems a little bitter, doesn’t it? I myself was cheering for the Japanese, mainly because when given the choice I tend to cheer for an Asian team playing. We come from that group, and showing some solidarity for our fellow Asian teams seems like the right thing to do. I’d certainly rather a country cheer for the Aussies out of a sense of fraternity and respect than because they don’t like where the other team was born. Then again, I also quite like Americans. They’re polite, friendly, outgoing, helpful, generous, understanding and tip well. I’m quite happy to not judge them by the stupider members of their society (same as I’d appreciate them not judging every Aussie by their experience of Queenslanders). They also came out in force to support their national women’s team, which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of other nationalities with teams in the World Cup.
So, as I said. Well done Team USA. You played fucking brilliantly and deserved the win. Good luck in the future, and next time we meet the Aussie ladies are going to crush you.