I was trying to watch a World Cup Qualifier and I ended up watching a telenovela. Around the 60th minute, Salvadoran players started dropping like flies. None of their injuries were particularly brutal – most of them rolled around on their backs and grabbed their calves – but it was the theatre of it all.
A brief description, which may or may have come from a script found in the trash at Estadio Cuzcatlán.
Salvadorans, seemingly in peak physical condition, were struck down by the vile US players. They yelled and collapsed to the ground, screaming for their mothers and wives and an end to it all. One or two of them shed a tear. I mean, not even Christian Bale can cry on demand. Well, maybe he can, but I’m scared to ask him about it. Teammates gathered around their fallen comrade and solemnly looked on; manly hand-holding ensued. There was, perhaps, some yelling in Spanish or Spanglish at the offending US player; if there was no offender, the closest player in a snazzy white striped shirt would due. The crowd hushed. The stretcher arrived, carried by 4 EMTs (or whatever the Salvadoran equivalent to EMTs is), and was laid carefully beside the fallen player. The player was gingerly lifted onto the stretcher and carried off the field to thunderous applause from his teammates and the crowd. The courage! The bravery! How could he ever go on?
The EMTs stood back after lowering the stretcher to the ground, safely off the pitch. El Salvador’s head trainer began his work, relying mostly on the Magical Soccer Spray. It is a tribute to their dedication to the Salvadoran national team, to pride itself, that the injured players, near death in all likelihood, stood up and re-entered the game. I can’t be sure if the clouds parted and sun shone only on them, but I’ll assume that’s what happened.
I half expected Half-Squat to present a little wooden Oscar to the keeper, Miguel Montés, who managed to delay 6 minutes. That’s right: he was down, inside his net, for 6 minutes. It was a masterful performance.
On a side note, the US came back to draw, 2-2. Frankie Hejduk was the best player in San Salvador on this particular evening.