I hope you watched some of the U.S.-Algeria soccer game on Wednesday.
All told, I saw about three-quarters of it, missing only about the first 25 minutes.
As I've documented here recently, I'm not the biggest soccer fan.
But I know an entertaining soccer game when I see it - and that was an entertaining soccer game.
More than that, though, it was a great sporting event - and one that had to leave you feeling good as a sports fan...even, I think, if the United States had lost.
I hate when a team doesn't give it their all...When something is left on the table.
I think that's part of what made Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS so hard to stomach - the Mets loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. And while that was emblematic of the Mets' best effort (you can't come much closer than that as far as giving yourself a chance to win the game).....it also was glaring with unfulfilled potential when the game ended with the bases loaded and Carlos Beltran watching a called strike three.
I don't think it's too much of a leap to contrast that game with what was essentially an elimination game for the United States on Wednesday. They needed to win that game - and they took every possible shot they could at winning that game. They left nothing on the table...no one was passively watching the action go by a la Beltran.
As a sports fan, I don't know that you could ask for anything more than that.
Had the U.S. lost, you could point to the first half against Slovenia, where they came out flat and gave up two early goals before they roared back into the game. A win in that game makes Wednesday's game much less dramatic.
The tie with Slovenia, though, ended up making the Algeria game an edge-of-your-seat nailbiter...in which you couldn't say the U.S. wasn't making every effort to control the game. They took chances, and most of all, put shots on net. I'm a firm believer, whether it's soccer or hockey, that you can't score without taking a shot - put it on net, see what happens. Maybe you can kick in a rebound somehow. The U.S. did that, and for 90 minutes the goal keeper was strong...or the U.S. was just nervous and missed some chances.
So, while there would have been frustration had they lost, you had to feel good about the game as a whole - after all, they wouldn't have lost, just tied. And they took chances - they didn't just sit back and wait for something to happen - they were aggressive.
And it sure was awesome that in that 91st or so minute all of the U.S.'s hard work was rewarded with Landon Donovan's goal that proved to be the game-winner.
100% effort. Entertainment through and through. And a feel-good win in the end.
That's more than you can ask for as a sports fan.