Like any red-blooded American, I was devastated by the United States Men’s National Team’s loss to Belgium in the World Cup. I saw my hopes, optimism, and pride nearly crushed as Belgium held off our final assault in the bullshit one minute of extra time after we scored our first goal, coming so close to getting to penalty kicks. It was so heart-wrenchingly disappointing that George R.R. Martin could not have written it better. But then I started thinking about it and realized that the World Cup is very similar to Game of Thrones. In fact, the War of Five Kings in Game of Thrones is just like the World Cup. For example, several nations are fighting for the crown, kicking and even biting each other to get ahead. But that’s not the only similarity.
The United States losing to Belgium reminded me a lot of the Red Wedding. George R.R. Martin loves to kill off your favorite characters at the worst and occasionally most random times and apparently the World Cup does as well. Team USA, like Rob Stark and the Northmen, were underdogs and their opponents expected them to be easy pickings. They weren’t. They beat Ghana, they almost beat Portugal, and they held Germany, easily one of the best teams in the world, to only one goal. While not undefeated in battle like Rob Stark, the United States Men’s National Team still beat all expectations and escaped the group of death. It looked like they had the potential to push through the round of sixteen with a decisive victory before having to face their toughest foe yet, our Casterly Rock, Argentina. Belgium seemed like it would be an easy enough team to beat, but we were caught off guard and knocked off after two goals in extra time and a solid defense, giving up one goal to us. It was heartbreaking.
The loss also reminded me of the Mountain versus the Viper with Tim Howard being the Viper, Oberyn Martell. Tim Howard fought hard and blocked sixteen shots, including several one-on-one saves. Like Oberyn, he fought bravely and seemed like he may actually win against the Belgian offense, but a surprise attack at the very end sealed his fate, as valiant as he was. You can fight the Mountain one-on-one, but if you don’t take him down when you have the chance, you’re fucked. Just like Oberyn’s death, the loss pissed me the fuck off because Oberyn was the shit, just like Tim Howard.
You also have an interesting cast of characters in the World Cup. Germany is a lot like Jaime Lannister. He’s the talented asshole you hate to love and he’s always entertaining to watch, even though he bangs his twin sister. Brazil is a lot like Jon Snow. Since the World Cup is in Brazil, they are expected to be the hero, but based on their round of sixteen game going to penalty kicks, they still have a lot to prove. The Netherlands proved that they are just like Littlefinger, as they used the deception of a flop to get a penalty kick and steal their game from Mexico, much like Littlefinger used his underhanded schemes to stab Ned Stark in the back. Uruguay, more specifically “The Manbiter” Suarez, is the vicious little bastard King Joffrey who met its just end in the round of sixteen. I’d call that karmic justice.
And we team USA fans? We patriots? We’re Tyrion. This loss is not the end of the world for us, as we do not take this game as seriously as the rest of the world. The rest of the teams wanted to knock us off, but we stuck in there and supported the good guys. Lions don’t concern themselves with opinions of sheep. We will survive this loss and move on, drinking and banging and just being plain awesome until our next opportunity where, once again, we’ll be pushing for the big win, underdogs or not.
I’ll still be watching the tournament even though the USA is out because it is one of the greatest sporting events in the world, but if you think this World Cup will have a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.