August 4, 2012
LONDON CALLING (DAY 12)
Hat's off to Espinoza -- if I had one
By Michael Lewis
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN NEWSCASTLE AND MANCHESTER -- Can we have a moment of silence please?
It is for my lost hat, which I absent-mindedly left at my seat at the U.S.-New Zealand game on Saturday.
It never had an opportunity to get really worn and old and be retired.
It is in someone's trash bin at St. James' Park.
I give the media personnel a lot of credit. I told them about the hat and they checked with security and the proper people at the stadium to see if it was found.
The news was grave. They could not find it.
It was a unique blue and white baseball cap from Costa Rica, which said:
Incidentally, 1821 was the year Costa Rica got its independence from Spain.
My wife Joy said that we will have to go back there to get another one.
As for the quarterfinal game, well, it was an Olympic classic with the age-old David vs. Goliath scenario. David, or in this case, Honduras, got a couple of good shots in at Goliath, but the Brazilians prevailed, 3-2.
I live for games like this because the Hondurans were smelling upset and the medal round. You could not have asked any more from them.
Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza, who plays for Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer, had a game of a lifetime, leading the Central Americans with an all-around penalty area-to-penalty area performance. He played his usual, aggressive game, although it was raised to another level, some might say Olympian, considering the occasion.
Espinoza, who already served a yellow-card suspension earlier in the tournament, incurred one in the first half and received another in the 90th minute. As he walked off the field, there was a sight I had never seen before. The crowd at St. James' Park gave him a standing ovation. Brazilian players shook Espinoza's hand. Even Brazil coach Mano Menezes applauded the Honduran dynamo.
Newcastle soccer fans obviously know an inspired performance when they see one.
Unfortunately, I could not tip my hat to Espinoza. I did not have one.
After the game, I did make one major decision. I will not stay for the Brazil-South Korea game men's semifinal.
It's about time I get to London for the rest of the games and for the other semifinal that will pit Mexico against Japan.
I just wonder if I will find the time to buy a new hat.