David vs. Goliath* is a great story. The tale is part of Jewish, Christian and Islamic lore, but moves beyond that into common Western legend and is a reference to any contest between the small and the large. In the tale Goliath is only contested by David because every other soldier in Saul's force is scared. In sports and history David v Goliath contests happen all the time. Some of the greatest victories in military and sports history are when the "Davids" do so well. It is why Cal FC is so popular at this moment. They are David. They've met a small team, a medium team and a team that tries to be big. They beat them all. Tonight they meet Goliath. Seattle Sounders FC is as big as they come in the US Open Cup. It's the perfect tale. It is why FOX Soccer is broadcasting the game.
Let's meet some other Goliaths though. There's plenty of national attention on the David, on the minnows.
Here's a little reminder about why David's victory is such a powerful story - it is so RARE.
Hey there Genghis Khan and the Mongols. How you doing? Sure, you got rolling by facing some similar scaled empires, but whoa when you got it going everyone before you was tiny. Every one before you fell. That Khwarezmian Empire that felt they matched up well with your style? Crushed. The Kingdom of Georgia - done. Genoa's trading fortresses - goodbye. He also crushed several organizations in what should have been even fights, but our focus today is minnows vs greats. Genghis did what Goliaths do.
It isn't just in history either. Our next journey takes us to the Goliath of global football/soccer - Brazil's national team. There was their recent U23 victory against the United States full team, which sucks to say as an American, but yes Goliath beat David there. That isn't the Brazilians biggest Goliath performance. They absolutely dominated Nicaragua 14-0 in 1975. They may lose once in a while, but they don't lose to Davids.
Lord Admiral Nelson - he most often faced relatively equal forces, but in the Battle of Copenhagen (1801) he was put up against a smaller power of Denmark. Denmark bunkered. Denmark lost. During negotiations the Danes threatened to resume hostilities. Nelson scoffed and reminded them how that went. Goliath.
The United States ruled basketball for a long time. Eventually other nations caught up and won a game in the Olympics and then one of the ultimate Goliathsof sport was created - the Original Dream Team. Mike, Charles, Magic, Larry, Stockton, Malone, Ewing, Pippen, David, Mullin, Drexler and some other dude took all comers on. Everyone was a minnow. Goliath.
He may have fallen from grace, but Tiger Woods during his heyday was Goliath. The Davids did shake in fear. When Tiger roared others fell by the wayside. He held all four Majors at once, a performance named after him and never matched. His most notable performance is probably the 2000 US Open (great name for a tourney that), when he won by 15 strokes.
The USA fought in many wars. It's a part of our history. At times we've been David. At times we've been Goliath. Two notable Goliaths performances pop-up in the 80s - the Invasion of Granada and the Invasion of Panama. They stopped almost as soon as they started. For wars they were nearly non-violent. Maneuver trumped combat.
Soviet Hockey - Goliath
Mike Tyson v Spinks - Goliath v David
21st Century Canadian Hockey - Goliath
The Anglo-Zanzibar War - Goliath v David
Barcelona/Real Madrid v the rest of Spanish soccer
Sounders v Silverbacks
Michigan State v LIU Brooklyn
While the "Davids" may be more famous, it is because they are so rare. Goliath tends to win a lot. Being a Goliath doesn't ensure wins, just ask the Timbers. But it does mean that the win is expected. As the American soccer world wants to call tonight's match David v Goliath, the only way that's true is if Cal FC wins. Otherwise they are just another not-David, just another Kitsap, Portland, Portland, Atlanta, Denmark, Spinks, Els, Granada, Panama, Angola, LIU Brooklyn, Nicaragua, Georgia, Genoa or Khwarezmia.
Thanks for the great narrative national media, but don't jump the gun. David won. Until Cal FC does that they join history's massive list of not-Davids. Thank you for recognizing the Seattle Sounders FC as Goliath of the Open Cup though.
#SE4TTLE is the goal.
*Ed. note: Seattle in fact invented the tale of David and Goliath.