The United States Men’s National Team is playing Portugal today. Just like every World Cup match before it, this is the most important soccer game in US history. Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann and his staff of experts have been toiling away at a game plan for months. They know Portugal. They know themselves. They even read that misleadingly titled Deadspin piece just in case. The strategy has been set, reexamined, and adjusted. Yet, no matter how ready Klinsmann and his team of patriots are, they know that it is all going to come down to the bounces of a ball on a pitch in the Amazonian rainforest.
Thus, it may befit the USMNT to accept this journey into the heart of darkness and develop a strategy for total victory beyond traditional, unreliable soccer tactics. I recommend an effective adaptation of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) tactic. I don’t mean just keeping secrets and obfuscating reality for sales purposes. I mean inspiring confusion and trepidation in the souls of Portugal. Here are some ideas.
- Replace the US national anthem with an excerpt from “The Sound and the Fury” read by Garrison Keillor. “…Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.”
- Instead of a straight line upon taking the field, the players and their walking kids should form a rotating star pattern around the Portugese line.
- Tie an extra boot around every player’s waist. Just one. No cleats.
- Learn a few words in the tongue of Mordor and use only those to yell at the referee.
- Regularly ask Christiano Ronaldo how he feels about Miroslav Klose tying him for most World Cup goals scored.
- Print a 3:1 scale cutout of Gregg Popovich and move it to a different spot on the sidelines every 15 minutes.
- Send a Pura Vida rep to the captain’s pre-match meeting to explain string bracelet economics to Ronaldo.
- Perform the ritual sacrifice of a soccer ball filled with green paint at halftime.
- Put “Agoos” on the back of every player’s jersey.
- At the first injury, everybody take a water bottle and pour it out while staring at the Portuguese keeper.
- When the US scores do not celebrate. Just act like you didn’t mean to. “Sorry, I really don’t know what happened there. Keep playing?”
- Ask David Bowie to dress Klinsmann.