Friday, July 16, 2010

Orange isn’t a good color to be disappointed in

All I could think was "at least I’m not out in public in this bright orange shirt."

You’re probably thinking, "huh?"

Let me start from the beginning.

Early Sunday afternoon I dug through my drawers looking for something that is quite impossible to misplace – a bright orange Netherlands soccer jersey. In just a few hours, Spain and my adopted European nation, The Netherlands, were to meet in the World Cup finals.

Due to the fact that I have a one-year-old and a non-soccer appreciating husband, I watched the game in my jersey and matching orange hat at home.

You might be wondering, "what's the deal with the orange?" The colors of the Dutch flag are red, white and blue – no orange to be seen. So what's the Netherlands' relationship, make that borderline obsession, with the color orange?

The answer lies in Dutch history. Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family. The lineage of the current dynasty – the House of Oranje-Nassau — dates back to Willem van Oranje, or William of Orange, who organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years’ War led to an independent Dutch state. Thus, the Dutch have adopted orange as their national color, and refer to The Netherlands national soccer team as "oranje."

Back to the present. The World Cup final, a bore to many, had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The beauty of Spain’s game is unmistakable to those who know soccer; in fact, they play what is generally considered "Dutch-style soccer."

This 2010 Dutch team, however, does not play the same artistry-filled game as their Dutch World Cup Final predecessors in 1974 and 1978. This team plays structured, defensive and disciplined soccer – exactly the opposite of the aesthetically-pleasing Dutch "total football."
This squad is more of a "wear you down, force you out of your game" kind of team, and it worked for them for most of the tournament. They were like those pesky gnats that attack me outside of my house – all over their opponents, sometimes with numerous fouls, until the other team is forced to play a game they aren’t used to playing, and one that is less successful. It worked for them, as they entered the World Cup final undefeated in the tournament and in all of their World
Cup qualifying games, as well.

But the Spaniards have been ranked number one in the world numerous times in the past three years; they are the reigning European Champions, and seven of their starting 11 start together on their club team, Barcelona, which won the UEFA Champions League – the world club title – in 2009.

Spain shockingly lost their first game of the World Cup, 1-0 to Switzerland, but went on to win their remaining games, while allowing only one more goal scored on them the remainder of the tournament.

Suffice to say, my Dutchmen had quite an undertaking if they hoped to win their first World Cup title.

After the first 45 minutes it was scoreless; after the full 90 minutes of regulation it was scoreless; after the first 15-minute overtime it was scoreless; but then, in the 116th minute, Andres Iniesta broke through to score the winning, and only, goal of the game.

Spain was World Cup champions.

I was downtrodden; utterly deflated. Sitting in my living room in my bright orange jersey and hat, I was like the millions of other Dutch fans, all dressed in our "oranje," dejected yet again.