Hogan's Alley

Monday, June 12, 2006

Czech Republic 3, US 0

After much hype about the talent of the US soccer team today's loss to the Czechs was a great disappointment.

Not one single player played up to their abilities. Their passing was sloppy and there was only minimal effort displayed. I hope they feel ashamed and come back this weekend with a new spirit, but it seems that the bookmakers may be right in giving them only an 80 - 1 chance of winning the cup.

World Cup

Being forced to spend so much time at home over the next month, I was thrilled to have it coincide with the World Cup. I may get to see every game in the tournament for the first time ever.

Yes, I am one of the approximately 254 Americans who enjoys world football. It happened by accident. My kids wanted to play soccer with their friends, but the local club was desperate for coaches. Those like me, who were totally ignorant of the game were welcome and a course was offered that licensed us as "F" (the lowest) level coaches in the FIFA scheme of things.

I paired up with a neighbor, who has since become a dear friend, who grew up in Manchester in northern England. While he had never played organized football, he had played many hours of the street version. Together we were able to neutralize our insecurities enough to put on a brave, if still incompetent, front.

As luck would have it, the step-father of one of the kids assigned to our team was a retired professional player from Scotland who had even played internationally for the Scottish team. Jim traveled several days each week in his then current job and was unable to commit to any coaching duties. But he was sympathetic to our problems and, whenever he could, he came to practice and spent time with us after the session coaching us in the business of coaching football. He also contributed several colorful Scots-accented phrases, such as, "Git yer boot on it lad!"

Over the years we learned enough to produce winning seasons for the kids at the "house team" level. I even tried one year as assistant coach on a travel team since one of my sons showed some talent as a goal keeper.

Over those years I learned to love the flow of game tactics, the sudden attacks of the game and the extraordinary skill of the great players.

Tender Mercies And Close Calls

Although it took much longer than I had been led to expect, I have finally returned home following a total knee replacement on one knee. What I had expected to be 10 days to two weeks stretched into over three weeks. Most of the delay was due to the development of some atrial fibrilation a few days after the surgery.

It took an extra week for the cardiologist to find the correct levels of medication needed to stop the fibrilation and maintain what is called a good sinus rhythm. The knee itself has been doing beautifully. There has been less pain post-op than I had been experiencing daily before the operation.

After leaving the hospital, I transferred to an inpatient rehab facility for two weeks. Since I was admitted on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the first three days were largely a waste of time. What made it worse was that I was placed in a bed in the nursing home section of the facility, instead of the short-term rehab section. I was treated to an unwanted live-in preview of what the future may hold. A very depressing experience.

When the facility's decision makers returned to work on Tuesday I was quickly able to arrange a move and twice a day rehab sessions began. The physical therapy operation at the facility is locally famous, and deservedly so. My daily progress was visible and very encouraging.

In general, the staffs of both the hospital and the rehab facility were splendid. They seemed to enjoy their work and cared about the people they worked with. There were, of course two or three people who were so stupid that it was frightening to think of them going anywhere near patients who were incapable of advocating for themselves.

Now I will put the experience behind me, at least as much as I can with three-a-week outpatient physical therapy will allow. I'm not sure how much blogging I will do, given that I can't sit in front of the computer for hours at a time reading the news and reacting. We'll see.

In any event, it is certainly great to be back home and reconnected to the net.