Portugal: Day Three (terceirco dia)
I sleep like a baby here, as does Romeo:
However John doesn’t seem to sleep as well this second night as he did the first. He could be anxious: today is the third game of Mira Mar’s regular season and John’s first. Nuno (the coach) put him on the roster, but he’s not sure he’ll actually get any playing time. Mira Mar has lost the first two games of the season, and the captain (Marco, you met him in Day One) is out on injury (groin), Ken got a red card in the second game so he’ll be sitting this game out, Majiid is playing on a badly sprained ankle, and Valerio (another American) already went home because he tore his groin (or something…it happened while John was in the states). They should probably start John, but because of the soccer politics that I have come to sort of understand, since he’s been gone he’s lost some seniority. We waited around our apartment until about 40 minutes before game time. Finally, we heard the honk-honk of Pedro from the street. Someone else had driven the junior team to their away game in the Mira Mar van, so Pedro was using his sister’s pick-up truck to drive back and forth from the village to the complex picking guys up and bringing them to the game. Pedro dropped us off and told me to sit down and wait for him to come back: he had to pick someone else up. He did come back for me, and escorted me to the WAG section (I learned just before I left that this is a term used for futbol players’ Wives And Girlfriends). I sat with Ken, who couldn’t play.
I don’t know a ton about soccer, but I’ve watched a lot of it since I met John. The other team (Aguia) was much taller than Mira Mar, but that doesn’t really matter in soccer. Mira Mar totally out-possessed them for the first 20ish minutes of the first half. However, whenever Aguia did get the ball, they managed to move it around the field and actually find their players. Mira Mar did a lot of either holding onto the ball too long, or getting rid of it right away, and usually giving it up to the other team. The game was scoreless most of the first half, then Aguia finally scored and the game looked even bleaker after that. John didn’t go in. At half-time, the teams went into the locker room, but John and the few others on the bench stayed on the field and kept their pennies on. It was looking more and more like John wasn’t going to play at all. The second half started with the exact same line-up. About 15 minutes into the half, Mira Mar scored. I think it was Majiid. He rolled his ankle again in this half, and was struggling pretty bad. He went over to the trainer and got some numbing spray and continued to play. Finally, Adam slide-tackled someone and asked to be subbed out because he was tired from being one of the only guys to actually run the ball. This was one of the 50 or so fouls that wasn’t called by the ref. There were another 50 fouls that actually were called. John went in for Adam (and the crowd actually DID go nuts.. John wasn’t lying!!) and immediately had a break away and an opportunity to shoot on the goal. Fans were actually on the edge of their seats: they had unexpectedly tied the game, and now Johnny may score? But, Johnny didn’t score. Johnny got tripped up by the goalie and didn’t even shoot. A few minutes later someone else did score, and Mira Mar took the lead. I couldn’t tell you who scored, or how it happened. But people flipped out. They held the other team off for the few remaining minutes and the game was over. Mira Mar won their first game of the season. And Johnny got to play.
After much waiting around and handing-out of beers and waters, we went back to our apartment. Again, we went over to the guys’ apartment for food and wifi and eventually made our way back home.