In order to channel my excitement into something productive (instead of doing something foolish like investing emotional energy in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2008 season), I've come up with a new feature of this blog: adopt your very own men's national-teamer.
Allow me to explain a little. When I was younger, I lived and breathed the Winnipeg Jets (long may they rest in peace). The team was never any good, so living and breathing the Jets was far from healthy. (You could say the same about supporting Canada, but I digress). I can remember trudging through the snow on my way to elementary school, using my precocious mathematical skills to calculate Bob Essensa's goals against average after the previous night's game.
While I obsessed over players like the amazing Teemu Selanne, and a few dimmer luminaries, I had a strange but warm spot in my heart for Luciano Borsato. I got a real kick out of this guy. There were several reasons: his unlikely name, which I would normally associate with some typical Italian occupation like opera singing, rolling pizza dough, or bricklaying; his odd jersey number, #38, a sure sign of a 4th liner; and his frequent trips to and from the farm team.
Without knowing it, I'd adopted him as my very own. His very obscurity allowed me to stake a greater claim to fandom, or so I thought.
Choosing a Canuck
Real adoption is an arduous process that requires endless paperwork, reference checks, legal fees, and the like. Adopting a professional athlete only really requires one to consciously or unconsciously follow one player a little closer than the rest, to celebrate their successes more than anyone else, and to defend them in times of trouble.
A soccer team has only 11 players, and in the course of qualifying, it is unlikely that Canada will select more than 25 or so different bodies. So obscurity (relative obscurity, of course, as more Canadians surely have heard of Kyle Wellwood than Julian de Guzman) can't be used as the primary reason to adopt. Still, everybody loves a guy like DDR or JDG; for me, it's imperative that I choose someone who flies under the radar enough that my adoration is appreciated.
I had no trouble settling on a player to adopt. In a way, he chose me. Seeing him "again for the first time" in the match against Brazil, Mike Klukowski pushed all the right buttons. As Canadian soccer fans, we're not as familiar with Kluka as we are with a player like Paul Stalteri or Jim Brennan, which made Mike's impressive play all the more exciting to watch.
To Mr. Klukowski: I've adopted you. You are the one I'll have my eye on, more closely than the rest. Deal with it.
What does this mean?
What does anything really mean, in these topsy-turvy times? In other words, does adoption of a Canadian soccer player confer any real responsibilities?
The answer, as it often is, is both yes and no. I won't be writing Mr. Klukowski any letters or helping to plan his wedding or buying him birthday presents. But I'll make special note of his performances, maybe devoting an entire post to Klukowski after each match. And any significant international or professional milestones will certainly be noted and celebrated.
And I'll talk about having a soccer boner for the guy, or at least a semi, and use more colourfully profane language if some sweaty Honduran fells him on the field.
The man, the myth, the Mike
Here's what you might like to know about Mike.
He has 15 caps for the national team, and normally plays at left back. He plays for Club Brugge, one of the better clubs in Belgium, and will be competing in UEFA Cup this year. He likes peanut butter, The Strokes, and long walks on the beach. Or so we'd like to imagine.
Some early signs of my man-love for Mike:
FUCK YEAH! GOAL FRIEND! Long ball from Klukowski, who has been perfect so far, and Friend outjumped the keeper for the ball. BONERS!
It appears that some no good Brazilian punk has kicked Klukowski in the chest. I hope he stays on, he's been great. He has a nice set of wheels to go with his left foot.
Robinho tries the same trick that worked [on Stalteri] on Klukowski on the other side, but Mike isn't buying his shit.
The revelation was Klukowski. While Stalteri, Serioux and Hastings were solid, though with occasional lapses, Klukowski seemed to blunt nearly every attack down his wing, while using his speed to get involved in the office. He hit the delicious long ball that tempted the goalie enough to come off his line and allow Friend to head over him. Maybe it's not fair, but I don't see Brennan winning the job at the left back spot for WCQ.
How to play along?
It's easy, really. Whether you've got a blog, or you're a blogless sort, of no influence on the world, you can participate too! Just pick a player on the Canadian side that appeals to you for any reason, no matter how trivial. I shy away from the big names, but I suppose they need unconditional love too. And write about why you've adopted them. Do it in the comments; I'll throw it in a catch-all post later on. Or do it on your own blog and I'll drive a meagre flow of traffic your way.
And I encourage our newest correspondent to get in on the act . . .