Slovakia 1, U.S. 0! Get used to this flag, World Cup suckas

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This is the flag of Slovakia. Get nice and familiar with it, Medal Podium.

GateHouse — I don’t write about sports very often, which is too bad, since we as a nation are running pretty low on providers of completely superfluous sports commentary (maybe we can get some of you guys on a cable TV show or something), but nevertheless I am here to report the SPORTS SHOCKER OF THE WEEK, one which will melt your face, light your mustache on fire and make it seem like you’re being punched in the tongue by Terry Bradshaw. Before you read further you may wish to sit on something concrete and put on a welding mask. (You should probably do that anyway, as swine flu is caused by the radiation that comes out of computer screens, obvs.)

Here we go: Last Saturday, the U.S. men’s national “soccer team,” which according to my research and the Internet computer machine has been around for like totally a bunch of years, lost to the nation of Slovakia in soccer, or as they call it overseas, “football, the wildly popular sport that many Americans believe to be totally boring although many of them watch baseball, things Charlie Sheen is in and movies about vampires in high school.”

The final score of the U.S./Slovakia throwdown: 1-0. ONE TO NOTHING, because when the U.S. takes on Slovakia in anything it’s always a shootout. As per Slovak custom, the afterparty was held at the White Castle in Whiting, Ind. Needless to say, the Knights of Columbus served as the hotel lobby.

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And even though soccer is America’s 35th most popular sport, just ahead of international yacht racing, unsettling contests involving Incredible Dogs and the NBA, this is a BIG DEAL for my homeland of Slovakia. And those guys could really use it these days, partly because most of you reading just went, “What the hell is Slovakia?” which is kind of the national chamber of commerce’s first problem, really. (The second is this Actual No. 2 Google News headline for Slovakia right now: “Voter Indifference Has Bottomed Out In Slovakia.” See, I told you it could be worse, South Carolina!)

Indeed, not much happens in Slovakia, except when the Von Trapp kids wander over, and yet when the U.S. faces off against Slovakia in soccer (or anything, really, although you’d be surprised how infrequently these two countries compete in anything that doesn’t necessitate a bobsled or a goat) I am a man torn between two loyalties, like Spock in the new “Star Trek” movie or Steven Tyler. In fact shortly after learning that Slovakia was winning, I took to the Twitter to tweet or twort or twunk a good-natured pro-Slovak chide that read something like YOU SUCK, AMERICA, which when taken out of the context of international soccer fury pretty much assures I’ll be denied air travel for the rest of my life.

Because, as I’ve written many times before in an attempt to snag free entrance to Whiting’s annual Pierogi Festival, I am of Slovak descent, and Slovakia — or whatever country Slovakia was when my family came over, that was like three or four names ago — is enjoying a sports resurgence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Pavol and Peter Hochschorner took Olympic gold in Canoeing Slalom in the 2004 Olympics (Bratislava got TORE UP that night, y’all). Which is helpful, because our only other recent claim to fame, pop-culture wise, was serving as the setting for the hilarious family comedy “Hostel Part II,” in which meaty, thick-handed Slovaks went all torture-y on some nubile American blondes or whatever.

So for the moment have to resort to offer congratulations and a hearty cheers with a mug full of dark beer and sauerkraut to both sides, and avoid having to pick a favorite nation for now. It is a plan I hope to hold onto as long as I can, or at least until the next Canoeing Slalom event rolls around.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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