The pressure must have been intense on the players. The crowd, all steamed up and full of vigor, were chanting for a goal. Any kind of goal. Just one stinking goal from the blue and white of Honduras, so that they could claim a small, tiny sliver of glory from the 2014 World Cup. It was compelling to watch, even knowing that there were maybe 1,342 actual true Honduran supporters in the crowd who gave a damn.
And it happened. The goal came courtesy of a broken play, sloppy tackling and a rifled shot in the upper left corner of the goal. After 500 minutes of World Cup play. After 32 years of missed World Cup games. Honduras can now, finally, be happy — even though they lost and failed to make it out of group play. They will leave Brasil without much more than the memory of that singular moment of glory, a memory that will have to keep generations happy for at least another decade. Or two.
All of that is more than England gets. Indeed, the entire episode reminds me of poor Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and the pathetically limp hopes and dreams of the England team. Sometimes the most compelling storyline isn’t about those that rise to greatness and glory, but the ones who fail over and over and over and over, who stumble over cleats and turn the wrong way. It’s those sad sack stories and the desperate crusade to get a tiny taste of the sweet. Wayne Rooney has tried for a decade to score a World Cup goal, and he finally does it – only to lose the game after fellow Lion-hearted stalwart Steven Gerrard heads the ball to the wrong player. Oops. Tragedy. Misery.
Soccer is all about the tears, the sweet misery of awaiting the next time, the coming opportunity. The someday. The next perfect cross, ball at your foot or on your head. Except that the ball will bounce up and you will hit the post. Right Wayne? And that’s soccer. Failure measured in 90 minute increments, misery made beautiful, moments of international anguish made intense and even more real and romantic than victory.