Match Day 17 — July 2, 2018
The Match: Belgium beat Japan 3-2 on a last-second goal.
The Venue: Back at Court Street Bagels in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
The Vibe: Stunning
A little kid with bleached blonde hair walked into the bagel shop in the third minute of added time. Right around the time Japan was lining up its fateful corner kick.
The boy arrived a few moments before Thibault Courtois easily secured the lobbed cross and lunged forward to roll the ball toward a sprinting teammate to launch a well-planned counterattack. He was standing at the counter placing his order and I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. Just like Lukaku knew Chadli was sprinting to the far post unmarked.
But unlike Lukaku, I forgot all about the boy when I jumped up and screamed HOLY SHIT as Lukaku let the ball slide through so that Chadli could slot it home and win the game on the final play.
I had been talking to a college kid wearing a lanyard who seemed moderately interested in the match for a few minutes leading up to the goal. He too leapt to celebrate the killer counter strike.
Before he arrived, I spoke with the staff members who remembered me from the Brazil-Serbia match and who let me get an iced coffee on credit since they’re a cash-only place.
That was especially kind of them because I’ve only been there twice. But the Bagel Shop has quickly become my favorites spot to watch the World Cup during what has been an often-dark tournament for me.
The darkness was fueled by xenophobia at the Upstate roadhouse, racism at the German bar, homophobia and despair at the Argentine steakhouse, disbelief at the Spanish viewing party. The darkness was exacerbated by my knack for visiting the losing venue. And the darkness also relates to my inability to set aside my own anger at the abuse of immigrants and the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, my own anxiety while starting a demanding new job.
In contrast, the kind staff and the community wall at the Cobble Hill Bagel Shop have been rays of light.
Fortunately, I encountered more sunlight yesterday afternoon when I took the 7 to Corona to report on a community art project just below the train tracks. There, I walked by several restaurants representing various nationalities all decked out with the string of ‘World Cup Here’ flags. The Croatia-Denmark match rumbled from the TVs inside.
An ad for the TV service Sling was written in Arabic on the side of an old payphone across the street from a shop draped in Mexico and USA flags. One variety store sold $10 Mexico kits for kids on an outdoor table outside. Another was covered in soccer shirts and flags.
It was a beautiful rainbow.