Everyone loves when big rivals meet, when games carry so much history that the players on any individual day are almost insignificant. Sometimes the scheduling gods, or the TV programmers, smile on us and cluster those big match-ups together. In college basketball, it’s called Rivalry Week. In international soccer, it’s just your average day of World Cup qualifying.
The schedule of matches on Saturday read like a history book of world conflicts. First there was Cuba v. the USA. [Ed.‘s Note: Check out the espnthemag.com photo gallery of the match here] Relations have been spotty since at least the Spanish American war, and you haven’t been able to get a Cuban cigar up here for 46 years. Rivalry highlights include the Bay of Pigs, the missile crisis and the Elian Gonzalez affair, not to mention a few big baseball coups by the men from Havana. The US soccer team hadn’t played down there since the pre-Castro days, 61 years ago. Read the rest of my ESPN column here.