So what happened was: I healed the torn muscle in my left calf from trying to convince Malabar to canter on a twenty metre circle within bounds.

It only took about two weeks, which was a total miracle. Then I was back on for two.

Then the USA scored a third goal in a match against Slovenia in the World Cup.

Now, if I could distill my life down into two passions, other than, you know, it would be footie and horses.

The soccer is more of a sentimental passion, if that’s possible. I don’t follow the Premiere league, don’t support a particular team, but I love me some international championship play, the likes of the Euro-fest that falls in the second year between World Cup. And, naturally, the World Cup itself.

I was an avid Cosmos Fan in my youth, and the North American Soccer League still rates conversation in a taxi, all these years later. I went to Soccer Bowl ’81 in Washington DC [Cosmos won!] and when the US hosted the World Cup in ’94, I went to four matches, including the semi-final between Italy and Bulgaria. If some higher power hadn’t have intervened, I would have found a way out to the final in Pasadena; happily, some higher power did intervene, because that was a fairly boring match. I remember watching in that place near Houston, the Brazilian place, what’s that place called? — and swallowing confetti when the last penalty was taken, and Brazil won.

Having the US in the final tournament has been something that we have been taking for granted in the last several go-rounds, but getting out of the round of 32 and into the quarterfinals hasn’t been anything that we could sit back and puff our cigars over, complacently. So when they drew with England and came back from a deficit to draw with Slovenia going into the final minutes, it was definitely something to shout about.

When they scored their third goal to take the lead, I leapt to my feet — and found myself on the ground. All I felt at first was the shame of falling down on the ground. Then it felt like — it felt like I had thumped my foot against a chair, or something? I had to sit there ans wait and see what the hell was going on in foot — and meanwhile, a little bit of hell broke loose on the pitch in South Africa, and the American goal was [wrongly!] called offside.

I got up, and the pain was so shocking it was all I cold do to limp to a taxi and get myself home.

Basically? I had torn the muscle again, badly pulled the Achilles tendon, and did something to my heel that made it feel like a little cup of concrete. The arch of my foot was numb. If I thought the first round had been bad, I hadn’t seen nothin’ yet.

*The place is called SOB’s [Sounds of Brazil] and happily it’s still there on Varick Street.

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