And Now We're Forced To Confront Our Love-Hate Relationship With Ronaldo

  • Rick Chandler

The irony here is, we should have been in love with Cristiano Ronaldo from the beginning. He’s vainglorious, talented and insufferable. He’s incapable of passing a mirror without stopping to admire himself, and most of the time when the rest of the world sees his face they just want to punch him. He’s convinced of his own manifest destiny. He was named after Ronald Reagan, for Christ’s sake. So really, is there anything more American than that? Instead of hating him, we should realize that we are Ronaldo.

The U.S. lost to Germany today, 1-0, but was able to move to the knockout round because Portugal dispatched Ghana 2-1. Ronaldo had a goal for Portugal, and so, despite his last-second cross that produced an equalizing goal for the Portuguese in their match against the U.S., he is being hailed in the U.S. as a hero right now. In truth, Ronaldo’s goal didn’t technically matter: a tie with Ghana would have produced the same result for the U.S. But there’s also no doubt that a 1-1 game is played differently than a 2-1 game in the late going, and so anything could have happened without that cushion.

Plus we’re sure that Ronaldo had other non-scoring contributions to the win. So is U.S. Soccer, apparently.

Ronaldo, actually, gets a bad rap. He’s a rather tireless philanthropist, with a soft spot for kids. In 2004, when he saw a young Indonesian tsunami victim who was wearing his No. 7 jersey on TV, Ronaldo flew to the country and donated money to help it rebuild. In many ways he can be compared to LeBron: both are full of themselves, and this rubs people the wrong way. Neither can really understand what their critics are going on about.

So now we’ve called a truce with Ronaldo, and we’ll see how long it lasts: as long as the USMNT stays alive in the World Cup, is my guess. And who know? Perhaps one day Ronaldo will really, officially be one of us: