The thing with the human race is that we tend to notice the spectacular or the inadequate, yet it is usually the banal and mundane that makes life work. A smooth sidewalk is nothing compared to a beautiful west coast sunrise or sunset. Most of us don’t open a door and then take a moment to reflect on the beauty of the mechanics of the door. The hinges that are perfectly aligned, the door knob at just the right height so we can instinctually reach for it and twist it without a thought, the smooth weight distribution that makes for the level swinging of the door, the sturdy frame and on and on it goes – such a marvel of our days that go completely ignored – until the effing thing doesn’t work, yes? Stupid door. Or how about that crack in the sidewalk that causes the stumble. Didn’t notice that sidewalk much the last million stumble free steps, but that last one!!
Early in the first half of the first game of the season against Montreal, I believe “Boundary Road” was still being sung by the Southsiders, a ball was played forward by a Whitecap player from the backline that tried to bypass the midfield and lead to an early attack – I’d think based on the goal a couple of minutes later, that was also a long ball to a forward, that this was actually a planned play which is another marvel in itself – imagine the club coming onto the pitch with a plan in place. Anyway, in this earlier play, the Montreal midfield cut off the forward ball and sent Nyassi on a counter. The back line formed in the half second available, Jun Marques Davidson filled the hole behind the back line,Martin Bonjour positioned himself to force Nyassi to move to his right – and a closing in Jay DeMerit – or to his left foot. Nyassi chose his left foot and rolled a harmless ball into Joe Cannon. My reaction to the original pass was – “oh oh”.
Joe smoothers the ball, Jay takes a deep breath, the back line turns up field as does JMD, but then JMD turns back towards Joe and holds his hands up in a gesture that gives me a great deal of confidence in this team. This was almost a carbon copy of the play against Sporting Kansas City last year at the end of the first half that led to Bad Bunbury’s (as opposed to Alex) goal and in retrospect cemented our season in cracked sidewalks and broken doors. It was exciting for sure the comeback against SKC was a thrill but in a chaotic way the same way a roller coaster is exciting.
The gesture was simple – “that’s over” it said. The sidewalk is smooth and the doors are working we just need to keep taking steps and walking through the openings. No one to blame for shoddy workmanship – it’s just one of those things that happen sometimes. Every once in a while we stumble and we look back at the sidewalk behind us to see nothing…no crack, no sticks or roots – just a simple stumble.
That the Caps attempted a similar play 20 seconds later before finally allowing us a glimpse of the spectacular sunrise with the LeToux goal a minute or so later on, yet another long ball attempt, showed the appreciation they had for a smooth sidewalk and working doors. Sidewalks only get smooth with hard work and a good plan. Doors only work with craftsmanship and look good with artistry. Camilo’s sunset goal was a result of opening the field and laying the sidewalk foundation – the ball stayed on the carpet and space became available because of the mundane, the banal, and the calmness of the squad. The door opened by the smoothness of a handy carpenter and Camilo added the French stained windows with the artistry.
In between, Sunrise and Sunset was all that happens in a day but goes without fanfare. Justin Mapp had a free chance on his strong foot when Gersh got caught ball watching – he sent it high when Bonjour, Rochat and Davidson closed down and pressured him a bit, but look to the right of goal. Dede tracked back to take away the right wing option – even though after the attempt on goal he makes a bit of a gesture obviously wondering how he was the last man back in that situation. He was the last man back.
Bonjour gets turned and Arnaud should have scored – no yelling no pointing – no “what the hell-ing”…Nyassi with another chance – no big deal…YP clears a header off the line. That’s what he is supposed to do. This is how we act when we walk down a smooth sidewalk or walk through an open door – we act like things are the way they are supposed to be.
So a week after first kick we walk on down the road to LA to play an away game against a bad Chivas team. A team made worse by injury and inspired only by the 400 college students who were given free tickets to attend the match – to give their proverbial 110% in a cracking soccer atmosphere with whatever pride a man can muster playing for the “Goats”.
The game was there for the losing, or drawing, from the get go. Wet, tall grass slowed the game and took away any skill advantage the Caps may have had. The previous week’s victory was a perfect opportunity to settle for a sleepy away point and wax poetic on the difficulty of earning away points and the importance of any road result.
Sometimes in life we wake up and we’re sleepy and don’t really feel like going to work or school or wherever we have to go. But, we just start to move and we open doors leaving the bedroom, going to the bathroom, leaving the house, we walk down sidewalks and we end up getting to where we are going despite how we might feel about the day. We complete all our task and the day ends. We develop a confidence that we never consider – the confidence that no matter how sleepy or cranky or however bad you may feel that the doors will work and the sidewalk will be smooth enough to walk on without stumbling and breaking an arm.
The victory was the type of victory a good team earns without obvious effort. It was a good road win. Sure there was some good goal keeping that kept us in the match – but that’s what is supposed to happen. The smoothest sidewalks are made by people with great skill in sidewalk making who go through life uncelebrated. They are just doing their job. The game was by no stretch of perception a pretty game – definitely not a sunrise nor a sunset. But if you take a moment and look you can see the sidewalk was smooth and the doors were working. Everyone did the little thing that needed to be done that no one off the field saw – and that is what builds a winning team’s identity. When each man can look in the other man’s eye and just know.
This is the subtle confidence that makes way for all other greatness to strive. The confidence of a parents love and support allows for a child to reach greatness. Without that base confidence all other confidence is fragile – the confidence of great talent is based only on that talent and strives on the moment previous; for greatness to be truly great – there needs to be the foundational confidence that is shown when a man is proud of being the best sidewalk builder or the best door maker because he knows underneath that he is still great.
A crack will show in a long season and a door will creak. That’s just the way it is. Greatness is a positive reaction to failure. Sort of like winning a game on the road that you didn’t really deserve to win with nothing on the line and no reason to fight. Greatness is the confidence that failure is impossible and victory is inevitable. Confidence is supported by an air that is carried by an individual or group and is understood only by that individual or group and presents itself to outsiders as luck. Luck aids preparation and preparation breeds confidence – we’re going to win a lot of games this season. I just know it.