If you're an American and enjoy your national soccer team, like most people in most countries do around the world, last night felt like getting punched in the face while slipping and falling through a hole in the earth. Meaning has been stripped from the minutiae in your daily existence, and joy feels like the faded new-shirt smell that slipped away from your clothes long ago.
But hark, what is this? Amidst the darkened post-USA-not-qualifying-for-the-World-Cup dystopia, there is a light in the world. And of course it is tethered to the US's fate.
In case you weren't keen to the algebra of qualification last night, the US needed either Panama or Honduras to tie or lose in order to move on. It looked like things were somewhat safe, with Panama lingering at a tie, but then Roman Torres scored a late winner for Panama in the 88th minute to beat Costa Rica. All Panama needed was a bit more time—and a hero. And that hero came from off the pitch.
Shortly after Torres's goal, the ball was kicked out of bounds, and Costa Rica came to collect the ball for a throw in. But right before the Costa Rican player could gather it, a sub for Panama (mistaken by many online to be a ball boy) sprinted at the ball and launched it into the stands, to delay the game just a bit more. Check it out:
The player, José González, according to Telegraph, may be punished—or he just earned himself a starting spot. Either way, he brought us a glimmer of joy in such dark times. You can feel for Panama's victory—empathetically—even despite their first "ghost" goal. They're overjoyed. Hell, the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, even declared today a national holiday in celebration.
Ah yes, that's what it looks like when a country watches its national team. Oh, and when that national team wins.