After squeaking past Guatemala, the US soccer team is back on the road for their second match in their World Cup Qualifying semifinal group on Saturday. And as the AP reports, while the fact that they are playing the 92nd-ranked team in the world should ensure the usual lack of interest from the average sports fan, just who they are traveling to play might be of some interest: Cuba.
Although Cuba pours huge resources into world sports like baseball, track & field, and boxing (and frequently are able to compete with and beat the US), soccer is a different story.
Cuba is a minnow compared to the US, having looked overwhelmed in their 3-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago in the opening match of the semifinal group. But despite this, the Cuban government has been playing up the importance of this game and encourging fans to attend. Plus, I’m sure even the Cuban people will want to turn out and get a glimpse of international icon David Beckham as he laces up his boots for the Red, White & Blue.
Wait…what? I thought he moved to the US? How is he still playing for England when he hasn’t lived there in five years? Oh well, I hope the Cubans fans are really charged up to see Landon Donovan.
Win or lose, this match is certain to be a lot more successful than the last time a Cuban soccer team played the US. Back in March, the Cuban under-23 team played in Florida as part of Olympic qualifying. Although they tied the US 1-1, the real loss came when seven of their players slipped away from the team hotel after the game and defected, causing them to have to play with only ten men in their next match.
I doubt that there will be any worries about this happening with any US players after Saturday night’s game, but you can’t be 100 percent sure: DaMarcus Beasley always seemed like he could be some sort of Commie sympathizer, and he did play for several years in Holland - and aren’t they socialist or something? Someone keep an eye on him and make sure he gets on the team plane.
Of course, if there’s any fouls or penalty kick calls that the Cubans don’t like, we know that Fidel Castro has no problem with his players taking matters into their own…um…feet. In fact, if I were the US team, I’d make sure that I didn’t see that taekwando fighter from the Olympics slipped into the roster. If so, I’d give him some distance and watch my face.