July 3, 2018
Undisclosed Location: Russian Federation
Agent ******* Embedded
As I sit here on the eve of our nation’s Independence Day, clutching an American flag and a Russian bootleg version of season seven of “Walker, Texas Ranger,” I am reminded of home.
Of barbecues and beer; supermarkets and SUVs; free refills and overpriced college tuition; freedom and liberty; and of the fact that THE UNITED STATES MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM DID NOT QUALIFY FOR THE 2018 WORLD CUP!
It appears that our theories that we did not receive an invitation to the tournament because of NATO’s tactical maneuvers on the western flank or because of Operation ****** in Trinidad were false. After a thorough and careful investigation, I have concluded that we did not qualify for the World Cup because we have been indoctrinated by the rest of the world to believe that football is played with your hands and not your feet.
I have uncovered thousands of classified documents from behind enemy lines that reveal sovereign states around the globe refer to soccer as “football” and football as “American football.” I documented my inquiries here. The international community has clearly conspired to confound the American public and government into ignoring the world’s most popular sport in order to protect its sphere of influence and hegemonic control of the sport from American usurpation through the weaponization of Skip Bayless, radical propaganda and advanced mind control techniques.
A proportional response would be in order. Unleash the Kanye.
Analysis and Observations:
1. MESSI AND RONALDO EMPIRES COLLAPSE: The world’s two greatest soccer football empires, The Messi-anic Kingdom and the Ronaldo Realm both collapsed on the same day. It is unclear whether they are directly connected, but their trajectories have mirrored one another quite closely, so it would stand to reason as much. Apparently they have both been in pursuit of the GOAT — whether that is a weapon of mass destruction, a valuable natural resource or just a really special goat remains unclear.
The Messi-anic Kingdom was the first to crumble after being sacked and pillaged by marauding French forces that were led by the talented and charismatic Kylian Mbappé. The kingdom’s borders were ill-equipped to withstand French attacks, and though the defending forces were able to counter in a few areas, they were ultimately too weak to survive the onslaught. The kingdom will still control Catalonia and perhaps greater Spain, but it is doubtful that it will become the global superpower some feared.
The Ronaldo Realm conquered Europe in 2016 but was rebuffed from expanding further after falling at the hands of the Uruguayans. Luis “the Nibbler” Suárez and Edinson Cavani pierced the defenses while the rest of the Uruguayans built up their fortifications to neutralize CR7 strikes. The strategy succeeded, and both the realm’s expansion and its nipple necromancy were stopped before the realm could consolidate its gains.
The question of which empire is more powerful remains a tenuous one.
2. PENALTY OF PAIN: Three of the eight matches from the Round of 16 were settled by penalty shootout — a brutal ritual in which both sides launch mortar attacks on the enemies’ central citadel. Each party alternates in this perverse version of trench warfare until one side breaks through. Our database revealed that those who shoot first win 60 percent of the time, yet all three teams that went second in the round of 16 achieved victory.
The Russians were the first side to triumph after defeating Spain in a game that the Spaniards otherwise dominated in possession (74 percent)and shots (25 to Russia’s 6). The Russians were outgunned and overmatched but committed to employing a conservative, defensive style that nearly killed the civilian population of boredom but assured the Russians more favorable odds of a penalty shootout. Their bet paid off, and despite the Russians obvious shortcomings, they have made the most of their limited chances, converting on nine of their 12 shots on goal thus far this tournament. The historical record suggests that Russia may actually have a chance of achieving ultimate victory. Consider that Mussolini’s Italy hosted the 1934 edition of the tournament, which the Italians won, and the military junta of Argentina won in 1978 when Argentina hosted. It would not be unreasonable to predict that Putin’s Russia could achieve the same result.
The Croatians defeated the Danes in the first penalty shootout, in which five total saves were made — a curious outcome in an area where penalties are scored 75 percent of the time. Kasper Schmeichel and Danijel Subašić proved to have strong walls, but in the end, Croatian talent overwhelmed Denmark as Ivan Rakitić finally sent the Croats through to the next round, where their Slavic cousins await them.
The most surprising outcome was that of the England-Colombia conflict — for the first time in English history the Brits won a World Cup penalty shootout, after failing to do so on the previous three occasions in 1990, 1998 and 2006. History and the vague British predisposition toward cynicism suggested our British allies were doomed, but by the grace of Jordan Pickford’s left hand and Eric Dier’s right boot, the queen’s subjects were able to secure victory in dramatic fashion. The English history books will surely have a new addition to the list of major historical events:
1066 — Norman invasion of William The Conqueror
1215 — Signing of Magna Carta
1688 — The Glorious Revolution
1964 — The Beatles play the Ed Sullivan Show
1998 — Harry Potter defeats the dark wizard Lord Voldemort
2018 — England wins World Cup match on penalties
3. BRAZIL CEMENTS DOMINANCE: Brazil defeated the Mexican insurgency in a bloody and hard-fought affair. The Mexicans nearly took General Neymar’s left foot off during an infantry assault, their brutality and savagery knowing no bounds. He writhed in pain on the field for hours but showed true courage and bravery when he returned to the battle theatre despite his wounds and with his elaborate haircut intact. His heroism has already inspired a whole new generation to emulate his greatness.
Mexico meanwhile failed to advance beyond the round of 16 for the seventh straight time. North America has been eliminated from contention while Uruguay and Brazil remain the only states from the Western Hemisphere still alive, the European colonial powers of France and Belgium respectively awaiting to strike both. When Mexico will escape this geopolitical purgatory remains unclear, but our predictive simulation models suggest 2345 at the earliest, give or take a few centuries. However, we are conducting deep-cover operations to unlock exactly how the Mexican people created man-made earthquakes — a valuable tool we could deploy in future conflicts.
In the meantime I will send a new batch of reports at 1900 hours.
This is a satirical article written purely for entertainment purposes.
Rory O’Toole writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].