I believe that we will win.
That was fast. It's Thursday. You had to wait a full week between John Brooks's joy/relief/collapse goal celebration and the Portugal game, and now you're sitting in a meeting sketching out lineup formations in the margins of a memo you haven't read. You pencil Brad Davis's fresh legs into left midfield. It's almost 10:45 a.m.
You've recovered from Sunday's game: the ecstasy and the agony. But you haven't watched Silvestre Varela's 95th minute goal again, certain that the experience would be tantamount to having your heart stuffed in a blender and pulsed into pulp. You can still hear the awful silence that descended on the crowded bar as Cristiano's cross swerved in front of Howard's goal.
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At 11:06, you examine potential exit routes, measuring the distance from your chair to the door, eyeing any potential obstacles that could interfere with your escape. If you can manage to glide between the office manager and your boss, the Scylla and Charybdis of the small conference room, you should be able to mumble something about an early lunch and get out the door by 11:25 and down the street to the bar by 11:30. You're confident. You believe that you can escape.
Throughout the week, you've followed all the narratives jostling for supremacy: Michael Bradley's lost form, the post-Manaus hangover, the record American T.V. audience, the truce of '82, and, lest you forget, all the Suarez GIFs. You're well read, thoroughly previewed. For all your bandwagoning friends, you've effectively explained the mechanics of goal difference tiebreakers. Hearing them banter about the quality of Fabian Johnson makes you briefly feel like you're back in high school, watching your longtime crush dip into the arms of stranger.
They still don't understand CONCACAF.
It's 11:20. You're nervous now, thinking about Thomas Müller and Mesut ?-zil and Mario Götze and the rest of the German front six. You saw what they did to Portugal. Shivering, you wonder if the US defense is ready to scramble, claw, and slide. Yes, you say. Jurgen Klinsmann is our leader, and we shall not be moved.
You know the US will need to defend as a unit, spring Fabian on the counter, attack the German fullbacks with pace, and let the midfield trio—Bradley, Beckerman, and Jones—contain Germany's attackers. It might not be pretty, but this is American soccer: sweat, blood, skill.
Thinking about Germany makes you scared. Your stomach tightens. When you're scared you think about Ghana-Portugal. Last night and for the first and late time ever, you prayed that Cristiano Ronaldo plays well (but not too well). You hope that the Ghanaians, stuffed with fresh wads of cash, lack the hunger to play with the reckless abandon that almost beat the United States.
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But we beat Ghana. Ghana tied Germany. Therefore, we will beat Germany, you say, dusting out the transitive property for one final misappropriated use.
It's hot in Recife you hear, sticky and wet. Almost as hot as Manaus. Can Beckerman, Jones, and Bradley go another full 90 minutes in that weather? If anyone can do, it's the Americans, you think.
The conversation in your head is growing circular. You've just vowed to name your first-born son Jermaine Junior. Seconds tick away. Your pencil raps against your notebook. Across the room, you see others fidgeting, checking watches, knees pulsing under the table.
Let the game be boring, let it end in a draw. Let us stay just here just a moment or two longer.
But if this is it for another four years, let's go down firing with everything we've got. I want to see Aron Johannasson running at Per Mertesacker in the 87th minute. I want every Jermaine Jones turn to make Manuel Neuer shiver in his boots. I want to see Deuce and Zusi and Bedoya and Brooks wave the American flag, wrap themselves in the embrace of a new America, reborn in the image of our national team. Let us all lift our voices and sing out to the heavens a battle rally cry for a new generation: give me Mix or give me death.
Time moves slowly until it doesn't.
I believe that.
I believe that we.
I believe that we will win.
It's 11:25, and you're out of your chair. Someone calls your name. You don't turn around, don't look back. You're out the door. The sky is clear and shimmering blue.
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