World Cup: Take 2

I have an idea.

Instead of relying on the impotent pawns of Satan — BP, the government, Kevin Costner, et. al. — to stop the oil geyser from destroying the Gulf of Mexico, why not make the call to South Africa to recruit the U.S. World Cup soccer team?

These guys could do it.

Enough of the blurry Webcam. It's time to send Clint Dempsey on a single-man deep diving mission a mile below the surface. We need a pair of human eyeballs to see what's really going on down there.

Dempsey could survive it. Our gritty midfielder played two games with a freakin' broken jaw in 2004. Only after the second game did Dempsey hit up the team doc, who gave him the seemingly bad news. Demp shrugged it off and returned to action, playing the next games on a sprained ankle to pair with the broken jaw.

Picture Dempsey sitting before some candy arse congressional panel on MSNBC, thrown out there to be an election-year punching bag for a pack of flabby millionaire elitists.

Demp would listen to exactly 12 syllables of doublespeak garbage from an energy commissioner before he vaulted over the table and delivered a Zidane-style headbutt to the empty suit and the three soulless politicos sitting beside him.

Clogging the damn thing would take a coordinated attack from Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley and America's newest folk hero, Landon Donovan.

Nothing shakes these dudes. Not going down because of an early goal to our former colonialist masters, the English. Not scoring beautifully executed, clutch goals only to have them ripped from their grasp by incompetent referees.

(A note about the refs. I say give them a break. Consider these guys have had to officiate a string of 90-minute games to the brain-filleting whine of vuvuzelas. By this time their eardrums most likely are scarred for life and the sound vibrations have probably ruined large sections of their cerebrums. We should use the evil vuvuzela to force out a murderous drug baron the next time we have one holed up inside his house in some backwater nation.)

Not, well, unprotected exposure to vuvuzelas.

I'm certain these guys can kick enough soccer balls into the mouth of the gusher to give the relief wells enough time to bottom kill the thing.

Afterward, they could line 30 or so BP execs across the deck of an oil rig and have Altidore and Donovan drive point-blank penalty kicks into their skulls that would toss them overboard into the greasy poison surf they created.

I'm convinced Team USA could accomplish this by tomorrow, in time to thrash out a one-goal victory over Ghana.

In all seriousness, this country needs this team right now.

Yeah, cliché. And I don't do sentimentality all that well, but, man, when Donovan hit the winning goal in the 91st minute, injury time, to seal victory over Algeria and send us to the next round, I dropped to my knees in front of the television, tears of ecstasy streaming down my face.

Immediately, I called my best friend back home, who nearly scrambled out my eardrums with his vuvuzela-like greeting."GGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he screamed through the phone, through tears of his own.

I have no illusions about our chances of winning the World Cup. We can get by Ghana in this round, and by the grace of Odin, we can beat any of the teams we are scheduled to meet in the next round.

However, when we meet the Netherlands or any of the South American teams, it's curtains.

The very fact that we are competing honorably and dodging our way through this Cup via doggedness, grit and more than a little insanity has reminded me why I still enjoy living in this godforsaken country.

I've been reading endless Cup coverage in foreign newspapers and blogs, and for once in my life people outside the Bible Belt are actually rooting for the U.S. to do well in a sporting event.

You can read this a number of ways. One being that our empire has suffered such a decline since 2003 that we have lowered ourselves to the point where it's not cool to root against us anymore.

Or that we have lowered expectations of what America is capable of so far that just playing a game by the rules and not complaining too loud when we get screwed is considered a progressive improvement in the American character.


All I know is that the past eight years has been nothing but a string of bad news, interrupted briefly by tidbits of terrible news and stretches of crappy news.

If it takes a second-tier soccer team needing extra minutes to beat a lower-ranked squad lest we be sent packing, I'll take it.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail

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