Champions League soccer, a perfect excuse for a midday pint. Preferably Guinness. But from the looks of this Irish pub few got the memo. Was all the momentum for more soccer in this country following the World Cup a ruse perpetuated by young, liberal hipsters or do Americans have more important things to tend to at 2:30PM on a Tuesday afternoon in September? Possibly work? Maybe exercise. Could be family. Still, bartender seems nice enough even though she hasn’t been around this joint long enough to learn how to lower the ambient 90s rock which now threatens to drown out the Dortmund crowd. Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal, first leg of the group stage. Live from Germany. Not Russia. Two well known sides. Even the two college kids are familiar but can’t trust them, they’re from New Jersey.
This guy sounds like he knows a little but more about the game. Maybe it’s the English accent. Could be the old school iPod shuffle. Nope, it’s definitely the English accent. Just finished a workout. Liverpool fan. Change channels? Why sure? Kids, you don’t mind do you? No. Ok, bye bye Dortmund/Arsenal hello Liverpool vs Ludogorets. English so happy that he decides to celebrate with an ice cold…Corona??? You’re English for crying out loud, aren’t you supposed to have better taste than that? Clearly ashamed, he redeems himself with an Americanized and Americansized portion of fish n’ chips. The English, so predictable.
First half transpires without incident, accident or any goals which is fine if you’ve got nothing personally invested in the Champions League but incredibly angst ridden if like English you’re a Liverpool fan and nervous because Ludogorets is playing an inspired brand of football even though few outside of Bulgaria have ever heard of the Eagles from Razgrad.
Halftime. Still no score. Kids order wings. Not too spicy. English has a second Corona. One Guinness good for me, it is a work day after all. Make the next one a seltzer please. Hold on hold on…with lime.
The second half goes by with limited drama. A few cooks come out of the kitchen to mingle with the bartender. One fills up a tupperware container with beer. Must get real thirsty standing by the oven. Either that or it’s for a recipe. English has been outside talking on his phone for the last few minutes. And you call yourself a serious Reds fan, Liverpool not Cincinnati? Back just in time for a well placed volley from newly acquired striker Mario Balotelli. Fists pumps from English. Cheers to the kids. Wink and a nod to the bartender who’s now busying herself with a celebratory Irish whiskey. Not for her, that would be against the rules. Must be for English. College kids are too young for coffee. And whiskey. But not cheap beer. Have another fellas, next one’s on English.
Ludogorets with the equalizer? How’s that possible? There’s like no time left on the clock. English silent, coffee mug pressed gently against his lips. Going to need to pace around the bar for a few moments while us other patrons do our best to blend in with the dark oak. Don’t want to upset the already distressed. Dinner crowd should be arriving momentarily and with only a few minutes of extra time remaining it does not seem like Liverpool is going to come out of this one with three points which has English sweating through his workout clothes for the second time this afternoon.
Leave it to a soccer referee to call a questionable foul in extra time. Wait, UEFA and FIFA are two separate entities? The goalie had an angle and the contact was of an incidental nature. Must be playing to the home crowd. Anfield. If this game were being played in Bulgaria it might have been a different story. But that’s not reality as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard calmly strikes the ball in the back right corner of the net. Final score: Reds 2 Ludogorets 1. English takes a deep sigh of relief. Finally he can have a sip of that Irish whiskey. Major props to the Bulgarian side who might prove to be the thorn of this group. What’s that? Next game against Real Madrid the reigning kings of the Champions League? Fun while it lasted Ludogorets.
Settle the tab. Thanks for your kind, considerate company Ms. Bartender. Kids, get back to your books. English, congrats on the win and enjoy that whiskey. It is 4:30 in the afternoon after all. A perfect time for soccer in America.