Posted on September 14, 2012
By Michael Lewis
During my many years of soccer sports and the beautiful game, I am not sure how many times I used the phrase, “must-win game.”
Like any other sportswriter, I probably did my share of labeling this match or this game a must win.
But nothing is every that absolute. Some games are more must win than others, although we use only one phrase to describe it (unlike the word snow, in which Eskimos have many words to describe it).
To help clean up the confusion and put things into more of a perspective, I have decided to put together a criteria that will separate must-win games from must-must-win games and must-must-must win games and from must-must-must-must win games.
If you remember the movie, WarGames (now I am showing my age), think of it as Defcon 1, Defcon 2, Defcon 3 and Defcon 4. In contrast to the actual numbering system, where five is the least and one is the most, I have switched it around, where one is the least and four is the most serious.
* Must win (Defcon 1)
You have to win it, but it is not necessarily the end of the world if you don’t. It might be an early-season game that will break a losing streak or boost a team out of last place. With the rest of the season ahead, the urgency might not be there as some of the scenarios listed below.
* Must-must win (Defcon 2)
It means your team is starting to run out of time. It might not be the horrible if a team loses, because there are some matches remaining in the season. Think of the Red Bulls’ situation against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. If they lose, it will hurt, but they still have six games to recover. They might have to win four of five those matches to retain their high status in the Eastern Conference, but it certainly is not impossible.
* Must-must-must-must win (Defcon 3)
This is yellow alert because the team is running out of time — fast. The best example would be the U.S. National Team’s plight against Jamaica in World Cup qualifying in Columbus, Ohio earlier on Tuesday. Had the Americans lost, they would not have been eliminated, but they would have been forced to the brink and win both of their remaining semifinal encounters to reach next year’s hexagonal.
* Must-must-must-must win (Defcon 4)
If Defcon 3 is yellow alert, then this is red alert, as in there is no tomorrow and your backs are against the wall and all those familiar sayings and clichés. Losing this game could mean elimination from the playoff race, the post-season playoffs or playing in a championship game. This is the ultimate must-win scenario. If you don’t do it today, you will never do it.
Categories: Jamaica, North America, U.S.A.
Tags: Columbus Crew, New York Red Bulls, U.S. National Team, WarGames, World Cup qualifying