I’m writing this earlier than usual from a stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut. I could ramble about the child that was crying about not wanting to go to Texas on my train ride there, but that’s where the story ends. I’ll pick something else instead.
Ramble of the Day
I was in East Hartford to cover the matches covering one of two international women’s friendlies that day, the first one seeing Japan face Brazil. The first half saw Japan get a number of big chances, but couldn’t score because of the play of Aline, Brazil’s goalkeeper. (The match ended in a 2-1 victory for Brazil, as Aline’s clean sheet was lost in the dying minutes of the match.) She may have been the most entertaining player to watch in that first half.
She is my favorite type of goalkeeper, one who is unafraid to come off her line and put herself and her team in a risky situation. To someone with a vested interest, that type of goalkeeper isn’t always welcome, but I enjoy the thrill of these ‘keepers. With Aline, every time the ball got close to her, the moment carried some suspense. What is she about to do?, you’d ask yourself before she drags herself out and somehow stops a shot. Maybe the next time, she’ll leave herself exposed to being chipped by an opponent, but it still may work out in her favor.
Honestly, I cannot resist the entertainingly bold goalkeeper or a similarly daring defender. These positions are so synonymous with a need to be safe; further up the pitch, one can take risks, but defensive players must take play with a high degree of caution. It is hard to blame the players that end up taking this strategy, too. It’s a practical approach that makes it much easier for a player to have a good reputation than a bad one, and it’s not as if appreciating a traditional defender is hard to do. However, those who go a little bit against the grain, successfully or not, automatically earn a soft spot in my heart.
That touches on something I said leaving Red Bull Arena on Saturday night (yes, I watched three matches from two different press boxes this weekend): “I find bad defending amusing.” This was in response to the New York Red Bulls going down 3-0 to the Columbus Crew after little more than half an hour, because it really was a case of bad defending. Blunders, big or small, are only selectively amusing, but when a defender just ends up making questionable decisions, it’s like a train wreck you just cannot take your eyes off of. Again, you watch every move that player makes and wonder, What is he going to do? Is it going to make even a little bit of sense this time? The suspense is gripping.
Ultimately, it’s the most impressive when they actually go boldly and somehow pull it off. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s like a captivating thriller (and unlike Skyscraper in that regard). It ends up being a smaller storyline in a bigger story that is important and entertaining all on its own.
tl;dr: Go boldly, defensive players.
Links of the Day
Today’s longer read: Dan Kilpatrick interviewed Tottenham chief executive Donna-Marie Cullen on the process of building the new stadium for The Evening Standard