The World Cup is here, and to me, that means it`s time to pay another visit to the Gino Astone, the South Side`s “Sage of Soccer.”
I measure the years in blocks of four when it comes to Gino. It’s been four since I saw him last and 12 since I first met him.
He was excited about America`s World Cup chances then, and that hasn`t changed.
“Oh yes!” he shouts. “We go for the first place this time!”
Hold that thought. Gino doesn`t just watch every World Cup game. “I`ll be here all the time,” he says, pointing to his easy chair. “Soccer game.”
He records them and re-watches them for years.
“I have here World Cup 2002,” he says, grabbing a random VHS tape with a worn label. “Japan-Korea.”
He`s already on his second viewing of today`s opener between Brazil and Croatia.
“That penalty kick? It was not there. It was not.”
Nobody can watch, talk and go off on a tangent about World Cup soccer like Gino. Nobody.
“You go on the field, you have to think about his player, your player, too,” he rambles. “That`s it! You don`t have to give it up!”
Okay, time to get him back on point. How will the United States do this year?
“This time, we go easy for the final. At least we go for the second or third place.”
That`s a bold pick! If he`s right, I`ll pat him on the back… in 2018.
USA plays Ghana on Monday.