Know Thy Enemy: Cubanos Pequeños

Posted: March 16, 2012 in KTE Report
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Get ready to bust out a victory cigar, because the USA U23’s open their Olympic qualifying campaign against Los Little Cubans on March 22.  Cuba has a long and storied history of being exceptionally bad at soccer, having failed to qualify for every single World Cup since 1930.  The lone exception: the 1938 World Cup, where Cuba qualified by default after every other CONCACAF nation withdrew.  Cuba registered their only win in a World Cup to date against European powerhouse Romania, before losing to Sweden 8-0.  Que triste, Cuba!

Elian Gonzalez

Previous encounters between Cuban youngsters and the USA have been one-sided affairs. Expect the same on March 22, minus the assault rifles.

As of now, Coach Caleb Porter has released a 19-man roster that reads like a who’s-who of up-and-coming American bad-asses.  Several of the players (Hamid, Shea, Agudelo, and Bunbury, among others) have made multiple appearances with the senior USMNT.  Although the roster won’t be finalized until March 20, I think it’s safe to say the level of talent on the field for the USA will make LP Field in Tennessee the most uncomfortable place for a Cuban to be since Monica Lewinsky’s…uh, never mind.

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: One word: dominance.  According to FIFA’s website, the USA has a 7-1-1 record against Cuba.  The one loss came in what FIFA calls a “friendly”.  I’m pretty skeptical that Cuba could ever have beat us in soccer, so I’m guessing the one loss is referring to the Bay of Pigs invasion.  While that fiasco certainly counted as a loss for the USA, I’m not sure if I’d describe it as “friendly”.  But I digress.

What I’m eating: With average wages of under $17 per month and chronic food-shortages, Cuba isn’t exactly well known for their cuisine.  If countless Che Guevara movies have taught me anything, however, it’s that they ARE well known for their fine cigars, which, being made from tobacco leaves, almost count as food.  So, to disparage our Cuban opponents during this match, I plan on smoking half a Marlboro Red (American bastardization of Cuban cigars) while devouring a full plate of food – any food (American bastardization of Cuban cuisine).  Take that, Cuba!

An empty plate.

The national dish of Cuba - an empty plate.

What I’m drinking: The national drink of Cuba?  I’m guessing tears.  But since I don’t like drinking those, a Google search of “beer in Cuba” quickly revealed a low-class lager with a high-class name: Cereveza Cristal.  Since I’m looking to be as insulting to Cuba as possible with my drink choice, I’ll go with the OTHER Cristal – the champagne I’m familiar with through my affinity for top-40 radio.  Nothing says, “F you, Cuba!”, like dropping several hundred dollars (a year’s worth of wages in Cuba) on an overpriced bottle of bubbly.  Capitalism at its finest!  (Editor’s note: due to the prohibitively high cost of Cristal, I’ll actually just be drinking Andre champagne.  But you get the idea.)

What I’m singing: “Cuba, Joke of CONCACAF”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

Cuba made the World Cup once, qualified by default
Never gonna go again, cause Cubans can’t play futbol
Cuba, joke of CONCACAF
Cuba, truly awful
Best to quit while you’re ahead, and stick to playing baseball

What to say to the Cuban fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: If you’re sitting next to a Cuban fan, that’s unfortunate – since you’re probably in Cuba.  How you got there is a mystery to me, but you better pray your USA passport doesn’t have “Havana” on it when you catch the first flight back here.

Frenemies: The Cuban national soccer team isn’t only known for being really, really bad at soccer.  They are also known for providing Cuban soccer players with the unique opportunity to defect from Cuba when playing in tournaments on foreign soil.  One such defector is Osvaldo Alonso, who said “Adios” to Cuba while in the US for the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.  And a fun fact: Alonso now plays for the Seattle Sounders, who are set to face Mexican club Santos Laguna in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on March 14th.  So Alonso, once our Cuban enemy, is now waging war against Mexico on our behalf.  How’s that for coming full circle? (Editor’s note: Alonso and the Sounders were, er, soundly defeated 6-1 by Santos on March 14.  Herc Gomez, USA striker and international man of espionage (he’s spying on Mexico – don’t tell), scored two goals for Santos.  Double frenemies!)

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