FULL-TIME: Well, that sucked. I mean, it wasn’t actually all that bad, but that somehow makes it worse, you know? I felt like I was watching a Team USA friendly from the late ’90s—a particularly dire match against Israel comes to mind. That just underscores that our side is in pretty much exactly the same place as it’s been for 10 years. We’re okay (but never exciting). We’re getting better (arguably). We have a few boys with initiative, a few with enough skill to get a game in the bottom half of the Premiership, a decent goalkeeper. We can beat Mexico. But any marginally competent European team doesn’t even have to play well to beat us.
87th: Finally—the USA forces a real save from the Swedish ‘keeper.
78th: The Swedes just inserted a 12-year-old Bosnian kid, which I believe means garbage time has commenced.
75th: Spector concedes a free kick in a dangerous spot. Real good luck charm, Spector—if you want to be relegated or nearly relegated, take him on.
73rd: Convey’s useless on the right, as well.
69th: Wow. The second promising counter dies at Convey’s feet.
63rd: Feilhaberino gets seriously pissed at the ref, and looks very much like the singer for a nu-metal band. Nice chinstrap, man. Off comes Landycakes, who’s had his usual invisible performance. On with Kamani “Yeah, My Fucking Name is ‘Kamami'” Hill and Young Jack Spector.
58th: What’s Swedish for GOOOOOOL-AZO! (?) Bound to happen eventually. The USA has played the better football overall, but the defense has been leaky and the attack lacks killer instinct. Sweden’s barely been there, but a rocket from outside the area may be all they need.
54th: Nice to see Convey ambulatory, even though he can’t put a decent all in either.
50th: Desperate saves at both ends…Zeppelin on the stereo.
48th: Beasley gets murdered. Bobby Sands Brigade of the Revolutionary Provisional Continuity IRA claims responsibility.
STILL HALF-TIME. Is it me, or is this taking a gilded eternity? Where my Swedes at? Oh, there they are.
HALF-TIME: Riveting stuff. It’s a friendly, and I think everyone is having a very pleasant time.
40th: Some meaty Swede treats Dempsey like a jailhouse informant. Resulting free kick leads to nothing but embarassment for all concerned.
37th: How is that the United States can singlehandedly remake the Middle East into a prosperous bastion of Islamic democracy by toppling one single dictator, yet cannot put a decent ball into the box?
30th: Semi-half-decent stuff from the White Buffalo so far. They’re moving the rock okay and appear to be in a creative mood, or as close as they get to one. Bradley unleashed big-time but went wide, proving he should be stitching people up instead. Big saves from Howard and the crossbar in quick succession.
20th: After conceding 148 corners in a row, all of which Sweden took awfully, USA mounts a thrust. Gross, huh? Feilhaber’s Brazilian touch lets him down in the area. “Glory Days” has now played six consecutive times.
10th: Where is my Boddington’s?
9th: Sweden’s uniforms are even worse than ours.
7th minute: I want Michael Bradley to stitch someone up RIGHT NOW to prove to me he’s not just Daddy’s boy. Oh, nice backheel by Deuce—utterly wasted of course.
4th minute: Sound system at Portland’s own Thirsty Lion Pub playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.” Landon Donovan is crying inside.
Sweden v. USA. Half-empty Nordic stadium. Third minute. Both sides have already missed chances they should have buried. DMB too distracted by his newfound hatred of the Pope and the Irish Republican Army to convert.