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Next Goal Wins (2023) | Transcript

The story of the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team, known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0
Next Goal Wins (2023)

Next Goal Wins
Year: 2023
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Taika Waititi, Iain Morris
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Oscar Kightley, Kaimana
Running time: 1h 44m

Story of the American Samoa soccer team, who suffered the worst loss in World Cup history, losing to Australia 31-0 in 2001. With the 2014 World Cup approaching, the team recruits a down on his luck, maverick coach (Fassbender) to help turn their fate around.

Next Goal Wins premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2023, and was released in the United States on November 17, 2023, by Searchlight Pictures.

* * *

* * *

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(BELL TOLLING)

(CHOIR SINGING)

(PLAYERS CHANTING INDISTINCTLY)

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

(CHOIR SINGING CONTINUES)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

Oh, hello, there!

Didn’t see you creeping up behind me.

Welcome. Come on, come in here and listen to this wonderful tale of woe.

Not woe as in, “Ah, bummer, man!”

But woe as in, “Whoa! That’s amazing!

“I can’t believe that pretty much actually happened!

“With a couple of embellishments along the way.”

Our tale is a tale of two islands.

One is a teeny-weeny beautiful, little tropical island in the Pacific Ocean called American Samoa.

Home to a wonderful people, who are deeply religious, hardworking and deeply religious.

But the other island, that was a man.

The Palagi white man!

And just like any incredible story, our tale begins with utter humiliation.

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

COMMENTATOR 1: Well, here they come. American Samoa.

A bit of smiling going on, but some apprehension as well.

Well, that’s the first one.

Goal! It’s three.

They scored again. Five for the Socceroos.

Goodness me. Humiliation. Boys against men.

Oh dear, oh dear. Hard to keep count.

It’s getting embarrassing.

Goal. Goal. Goal.

Just too easy. Goal.

(GOALKEEPER GRUNTS)

(SIGHS) COMMENTATOR 2: Thirty-one. American Samoa on the wrong end of the biggest World Cup hammering ever.

PRIEST: And 10 years later, they were just as bad.

In fact, I think they had actually gotten worse.

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

Come on!

(PLAYERS CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) American Samoa!

(PLAYERS CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

TEAM: (IN ENGLISH) Samoa!

PLAYER 1: Samoa!

You guys suck!

OPPOSITION PLAYER: Oh, we’re going to lose.

(MUSIKA MALIE BY L.E.A.O PLAYING)

PLAYER 1: Okay, we can do it. Come on.

We’re going already!

(PLAYERS CHATTERING)

TAVITA: What are you doing?

COMMENTATOR: Goal!

Oh, my gloves weren’t even on yet.

Pisa, put your gloves on. I’m not even ready!

PLAYER 2: Come on!

(PLAYERS CHATTERING)

(LAUGHING) Help, help, help!

COMMENTATOR: Goal!

Move out. Move out.

(PISA GRUNTS)

COMMENTATOR: Goal! (LAUGHING)

(PISA GRUNTS) Goal!

(PISA SOBBING) (WHISTLE BLOWS)

That was a terrible first half.

And now I’m forced to give you a growling.

Are you ready for the growling? Hmm?

TEAM: Yes.

ACE: Okay, you asked for it.

Get ready.

You were bad. You are bad.

That was bad.

Where’s the heart? Where’s the spirit?

You have to play with heart and spirit.

You’re bad. Bad!

Okay, Ace, I’ll take over from here.

Yeah, I think that’s best, yeah.

Okay, gentlemen, listen up.

In case you don’t know me, I’m Tavita Taumua.

I’m the President of the Football Federation of American Samoa.

But I think you all do know me.

Hi, son. Hey, Dad.

TAVITA: I’m here to beg something from you for the second half.

I know we’ve never ever scored a goal, ever!

But we have to because I’ve made a bet with the heads of the football federations from the other islands that we could.

And if we don’t, they’re going to draw a lady boobs on my face.

That’s some pretty powerful motivation.

ANNOUNCER: (ON SPEAKER) Both teams, please return to the field. Okay! 45 minutes left!

Let’s go, American Samoa!

(TEAM CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

ALL: (IN ENGLISH) One heart!

(CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

(ALL CHEERING)

ACE: (IN ENGLISH) Hey, guys, heads up.

Not all of the goals went in.

So, that’s heart and spirit. Right, Tavita?

Ace, you’re a lovely guy, but you’re a terrible coach.

You’re sacked.

Okay, cool. That seems fair.

Yeah, take a look.

Count the boobs.

Count them.

Individual boobs or pairs?

I’ll save you the trouble. There’s 11 pairs.

Eleven pairs. (WHISTLES)

They drew these with permanent marker.

You know what permanent means?

Forever!

Aren’t you guys sick of losing?

We haven’t scored one goal in the history of our country trying to have a soccer team.

Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

Mark my words, things are going to change.

I’m going to get us a new coach.

TEAM: Huh?

New coach.

(SIGHS) Where am I going to find a new coach?

You have to look off-island.

No, that’s treason.

Treason is sending that poor team to play games they have no hope of winning.

You have to think outside the box.

Hmm, well, sometimes the box is too small to think inside of.

Maybe I will do it.

I’ve already done it.

I’ve rung the American Football Federation to put an ad up for the job.

Dad, we don’t need some Palagi with his white savior complex to come teach us how to play soccer.

Daru!

But there’s so many other great coaches on the island.

Like who? Like Ace.

I sacked him.

He’s no good with pressure. He hates pressure.

You hate pressure, don’t you, Ace?

Yeah, that’s true. I hate it.

There’s only four weeks to the World Cup qualifier, Dad.

We should just get a coach from the island.

(EXCLAIMS) Don’t make me hit you with this sandal. (WHIMPERS)

We are getting a real coach. That’s it!

And don’t think I haven’t noticed those big boobs on your face.

Whose boobs are those?

I don’t know, they’re drawings.

Drawings of boobs are a gateway to the real thing.

Be careful, my mister.

(EXHALES)

THOMAS: Look, I know this season didn’t go as planned.

It’s known as the beautiful game, but let’s face it, it’s a complicated game, guys.

Football, soccer, as you like to call it, is like life. You know?

You’re riding high in April and shot down in May.

Um, next season, I think, we have a real shot.

As long as you, uh, trust me and allow me

to play the system that I like to play.

ALEX: Uh, I’m sorry, uh, Thomas, did nobody tell you?

You’re… You’re fired.

Did honestly nobody tell you?

Rhys, did you not…

RHYS: Yeah, of course, I…

I’m fired? Are you joking? Are you kidding me?

Obviously, you’re in shock, which is understandable.

And it is only natural that you go through the five stages of grief, which Rhys, I think, you have a…

RHYS: Yes. Thank you, Alex. We’ll just quickly run this…

Thank you, Chris. There we go. Yep, too far. Release it.

Now, to… You’ve lost it.

Settle it there. Just, yep, there we go.

Thanks, Chris. Spin it round.

No, you got to flip it.

ALEX: Flip the…

Yep, there we go. And spin it round.

Stage one, denial.

This is not happening.

There it is. That’s it, that’s classic denial.

Good news is, you got two options. Rhys?

Option one, that’s where you’re currently at.

ALEX: Or…

RHYS: Chris?

Pacific Ocean?

Uh, well, yes. Uh, but, no. Specifically, American Samoa.

THOMAS: American Samoa?

Are you serious? Is this a joke?

Gail, do you know about this?

Yes, it was my idea.

Can’t believe you’d do this to me!

I deserve some respect. Oh, boy.

I’m the only one in this room that knows anything about this game.

Stage two. Anger.

ALEX: That anger is real.

Was he this angry when you were married?

He was calmer before.

Thomas, you need to stop thinking about this as some kind of punishment.

This could be a chance to heal.

Maybe find a new direction.

ALEX: Oh, Gail!

God, I love that, Gail. That is so good. Excellent.

I played this game at the top level.

This isn’t fair.

ALEX: Fair?

You want to know about fair?

Oh, here we go.

ALEX: Let me tell you a story, buddy.

(CLEARS THROAT) When I was a kid, I had this dog.

And I loved this dog.

But then, he got older.

And I guess he had some anger issues.

Wasn’t the same dog.

My dad said that we needed to put the dog down.

So, we take him outside, and this dog, he is whimpering.

We’re taking him out. “Oh, no, this isn’t fair. Remember how good I was in the past?”

And my dad made me take that dog outside and drown him in the pond. (RHYS SIGHS)

I’m the dog in this story?

No, of course not. I’m just telling you the story about my dog when I was growing up.

And the fact that my dad was a bit of an asshole.

Okay, look.

I can change.

I’m flexible, guys.

Let’s not make any rash decisions here.

ALEX: Really, really good stuff, Thomas.

You are smoking through these.

RHYS: There’s only two left.

ALEX: Oh, that’s great.

(SIGHS) ‘Cause I got to…

Wow. Chris?

We only got one left.

And it’s my favorite one of all.

(SIGHS)

(PACIFIC OCEAN BY SHAFT PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT PA ANNOUNCEMENT)

Mr. Rongen? Mr. Rongen, hello, Mr. Rongen.

Welcome to American Samoa.

What is this shit?

(CHUCKLES) No naughty words, pretty please.

This is Who’s On The Plane?

American Samoa’s top-rated show.

We interview people who travel to the island on the plane.

Well, I guess what everyone at home wants to know is why have you come halfway across the world to coach the worst soccer team in the world?

I have a very particular set of skills.

Skills I’ve acquired over a very long career.

Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

I’ve come here to impasse my knowledge and unique insight into the beautiful game and turn this team around.

I’m not God, but I may as well be.

Because I perform more miracles than him.

Okay, well, one thing’s for sure.

The new coach is very friendly and outgoing.

We’ll see you next time for another edition of Who’s On The Plane?

Mr. Thomas Rongen!

(SIGHS) It’s very nice to meet you.

I am Tavita, I’m the President of the Football Federation of American Samoa.

And also the cameraman for Who’s On The Plane?

It’s a small island. We all have lots of jobs.

Now, as an honored guest, we have a very special surprise waiting outside. Okay?

So, Gus will look after you.

Yeah, you’ll love this.

This is so exciting! Guys! Guys!

Dad, why are we here?

It’s all part of my exciting master surprise plan.

Gentlemen, I am proud to officially announce our new official national coach of the American Samoa soccer team.

(TEAM MUTTERING EXCITEDLY)

He’s played with some of the top players in the world.

TEAM: Oh.

And, he’s originally from Europe.

TEAM: Oh.

So, let’s give him a warm American Samoan welcome!

ACE: Um, okay, guys, hey…

(TEAM SINGING IN SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Your chariot awaits.

(TEAM VOCALIZING)

Okay, okay.

Yeah, great stuff, guys.

I think he feels really welcome.

We’ll see you at training.

Hey. Dad,

how many offshore people applied for the job?

Oh, the response was incredible!

Yeah? How many people responded?

TAVITA: Well, there was him.

Yeah, it was just him.

But the fact that he responded, absolutely incredible.

I really think things are gonna turn around. You know, son?

It’s like in The Matrix.

I think this man is the Neo.

(INTRIGUING MUSIC PLAYING)

TAVITA: Welcome to American Samoa.

With a population of 57,534 people, American Samoa is a United States territory like Puerto Rico, but much smaller and further away.

The two main exports are NFL players and tuna.

It should not be confused with the independent nation of Samoa with their cocky, stuck-up people always bragging about their 24-hour McDonald’s.

Even though we are both Samoan… Hey.

…there are two Samoas.

Can you drive faster?

Oh, I would never break the speed limit.

It’s 20 miles per hour across the whole island.

Interesting fact. The bird on the flag of American Samoa…

Welcome to your new accommodation.

Oh, that’s your car, so you can move around the island at will.

Mmm-hmm.

And now, the piece de residence.

Your castle awaits.

Your landlord is Sione.

He lives in the house next door.

And he is available seven-twenty-four to address your every need.

Seven-twenty-four?

Seven days out of every twenty-four.

Well, I’ll let you get settled in.

And I will leave this Welcome to American Samoa video here for you to peruse at your leisure.

The qualifiers are only four weeks away, Mr. Rongen.

All I want from our team is just one goal.

One goal.

One goal.

(NAUMATI LAGONA BY THE FIVE STARS PLAYING)

(CHIMES)

(CHIMES)

(PHONE OPERATOR SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Hello?

Hello? Can I use the phone?

REPORTER: (ON TV) Rongen won the MLS Coach of the Year award and coached the US men’s national team.

But his career went mysteriously off the rails two years ago.

And I think the question we’re all wondering is…

Why have you come halfway across the world to coach the worst soccer team in the world?

REPORTER: Coach Rongen has a colorful reputation. What, what, what, what?

(BLEEPING)

But the team is hopeful he can save them from another international humiliation.

We caught up with him as he got off the plane.

Welcome to American Samoa.

What is this (BLEEP) ?

Oh, you’re from TV. Famous guy.

Welcome to the convenience store.

I see you found our conveniently located libation station.

And conveniently, we’re the local movie rental place.

And the convenient Dreamcatcher outlet.

You guys have a public phone that I could use?

(BELL TOLLING)

THOMAS: Hello?

Excuse me?

Hello?

What the…

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

(THOMAS GASPS)

(GRUNTS, WHIMPERS)

Now, we gonna do the Hollywood.

Ah, and that’s where you grab your leg.

Ah, and it’s really sore, and you fall down. Hollywood.

(EXCLAIMS) Arnold!

(TEAM EXCLAIMS, GROANS)

Get up! Up, up, up!

Oh, nice. Now, we’re gonna practice pointing and blaming where you point to someone and just blame them.

SAMSON: Wait, wait, wait.

(SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(TEAM LAUGHS)

Ah. Mr. Rongen. (CHUCKLES)

Nice, little buddy. Okay.

Go into the shop, get me that bottle we talked about.

Off you go. Thanks, little buddy.

Run!

Well, gentlemen.

I’ve been watching you.

And it’s safe to say, you’re useless.

You have zero talent, skill or understanding of the game.

That is why we’re gonna work on two very simple things.

Fitness and discipline.

Cacio and the pepe.

Cheese and pepper.

Simple dish but when made well, exquisite.

So, this is what we’re gonna do.

We’re gonna get into two lines and we’re gonna do sprints.

Down to the goal and back.

Two lines! Suicides!

Cheese and pepper! Come on, let’s go! Go!

Why are we doing this?

Because I want to see what you’re made of.

You’re all a bunch of Daniel-sans.

And I’m Mr. Miyagi.

I want to see how many of you can make the full 90 minutes.

Let’s go! Cacio pepe!

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING)

Oh, Jaiyah. Hi!

Hi, boys.

Hey, hey, guys! What’s going on?

What were we just talking about? Discipline.

All right. 200 sit-ups down at the goal.

Go! (TEAM GROANING)

Go, go, 200!

Hey, coach, I’m so sorry I’m late.

THOMAS: Oh. Ah, ah.

I just came in from Hawaii.

I’m in middle of, uh, talking to the squad right now.

So, uh…

You must be team masseuse.

Why don’t you, uh, set up in the…

Oh. No, no, no. I’m not the team masseuse.

I’m one of the players.

Oh, no, I don’t know where the women’s team train, but it isn’t here.

Oh, no, no, no. Jaiyah’s placed in the team.

This team.

She’s a woman.

Well, (CHUCKLES) not yet.

What the hell’s going on? Ace?

ACE: That’s Jaiyah.

She’s our center forward. Jaiyah.

(CHUCKLES) Okay. Good one.

Humor. I get it.

Sure, Jaiyah, go ahead. Join the squad over there.

Thanks so much, coach.

Joke’s on you now. She’s playing.

(CHUCKLING) Very good.

Something not right about this guy.

Well, he is white. (GRUNTS)

No. Something else.

Let’s keep our eye on him.

All right, Ace.

Let’s see what they’re made of.

Look alive, bitches!

All right, come on. We’re up.

Wow, a ball! Mr. Miyagi is really shaking things up.

(PLAYERS SHOUTING)

Okay, Ace. Run me through the team. Who we got?

Okay, uh, that’s Smiley.

He’s the D’Angelo of soccer.

PLAYER: Hey, Smiley!

Yeah. Oh! And that’s Daru.

He’s known as the Bad Boy of soccer.

He’s always sliding in and getting carded. Very bad.

Oh, that is Samson.

What? Because of his hair?

No, Samsung.

He’s named after the giant Korean tech company.

His father’s name is Sony.

Oh, and there’s Jaiyah, the Cindy Crawford of soccer.

What’s his real name?

Jaiyah. No, registered name.

Oh, it’s Johnny. But you never want to call her that.

Yeah. She’s Fa’afafine.

THOMAS: What does that mean?

ACE: It’s part of our culture.

They’re just one of us. But different.

But you guys are all cool with this?

ACE: How can I put this? It’s like

imagine a world without flowers.

Well, Fa’afafine are our flowers.

Be a pretty dull world without them.

Hmm? They’re beautiful. (CHUCKLES)

And who’s that large body in goal?

ACE: Oh, that’s Pisa.

He’s not really a goalkeeper. He’s a midfielder, but he found the gloves

when Nicky… Wait, wait, wait.

Who’s that?

That’s Jonah. He’s the Knight Rider Car of soccer.

(PLAYERS GRUNTING)

(WHISTLES)

Bring it in.

Whistle, whistle. Bring it in.

Bring it in, team!

Sit down, sit down.

That was terrible.

You’re just pissing around out there.

You need passion to play this game.

(SCOFFS) It’s embarrassing.

I’ve every right to put my foot up all your asses.

(LAUGHING)

Oh, that’s funny to you?

Well, yeah. I mean, it’s a funny image.

Sorry. Just trying to have fun.

Football’s fun.

Football’s fun.

I’ll tell you what’s not fun.

Watching you prancing and parading, fixing your hair like My Little Pony.

That’s not fun.

Armani.

This young gentleman here is what I’m talking about.

This is passion personified.

If I had 11 Armani’s, I could conquer the world.

But alas, I only have the one.

I’ll take that.

You know what? I’ve had it for today.

I’m going to leave Armani in charge.

He’s going to be my eyes and my ears.

Anything Armani says, you do.

Armani? What shall we do today?

Everybody, shoulder exercise up.

Up, down, up, down. Double time.

VOICEMAIL: Welcome to your voice mailbox.

You have 18 saved messages.

First saved message.

NICOLE: (ON VOICEMAIL) Hey, Dad.

I just saw you called.

Where are you?

Seriously. Like, where in the world is Thomas Rongen?

Okay, call me back.

(WAVES LAPPING)

(TIN CANS RATTLING)

(INTRIGUING MUSIC PLAYING)

WOMAN: Old tin cans, old tin cans!

That’s what I’m collecting.

People just throw them away. They wash up on the shore.

They used to be valuable. Not so much anymore.

Is she talking to me?

You’re feeling alone, because you are alone.

Like these old metal cans.

This isn’t happening. It’s a mirage.

Yes, this is happening.

You’re just a skinny white guy, sitting there looking out to sea for answers.

But maybe the answers you seek are right in front of you.

Everybody deserves a second chance.

Even tin cans.

Not that plastic bottle there, though.

Not that. Not touching that.

Family is what you make it.

Here I come, the old tin can lady.

Looking for my tin cans… Tin cans.

…that’s what I do all day. Oh!

TAVITA: Darling!

RUTH: Oh, Tavita, you idiot! Did you speak to him?

Yes, but what was all that tin can mumbo-jumbo shit you made me say and all that “family is what you make it” crap?

It sounded like that old lady from The Matrix.

Nah, he’s a Palagi.

White people love all that spiritual stuff.

Can you imagine the world without yoga?

There’d be all this unstretchy white people around with no ethnic tattoos. And no white dreadlocks.

Exactly! They need us.

And I need that coach.

ACE: Hey, guys! That’s great warming-upping.

Doing really well.

THOMAS: Ace.

Oh! Mr. Rongen.

Ace. Yeah?

You know, I just had the most profound conversation.

It was all about tin cans.

Our team, they’re like a bunch of tin cans.

Look at them.

Discarded, crumpled, sitting in a bunker, waiting for an apocalypse that may never come.

But guess what, Ace, we’re gonna give those cans a purpose.

What’s that, boss?

We’re going to start a nuclear war.

Gather around, tin cans.

ACE: Come on, tin cans.

THOMAS: We’re going to practice free kicks.

Hustle, double time!

ACE: Double time, double time, hustle.

The art of taking the free kick is about distraction.

Here we go.

Whoa, whoa.

TEAM: Oh.

And that’s how it’s done.

ALL: Distraction!

Distraction. Follow my move.

ALL: Hey!

A small game called the Human Hurdle.

And jump! And jump! (ACE SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Stop. You go around.

Cheese and pepper, cheese and pepper!

The object of the game is to hit the moving target.

Useless.

ALL: ♪ Baa, baa black sheep

♪ Have you any wool? ♪

Keep the melody, please.

TEAM: ♪ Yes, sir, yes, sir ♪

THOMAS: Everybody wait.

Stop play. Stop play.

Jaiyah, any reason why you’re late?

Everybody else seemed to turn up on time for training today.

Why don’t you run over there and do some slaloms.

Off you go. Let’s go.

Talk to one another.

Come on! Concentrate.

(9 TO 5 BY DOLLY PARTON PLAYING)

The object is turning speed. Hustle, hustle.

ACE: Hustle, hustle, bustle.

You know what? Forget about it.

Forget about it. Hup, hup, hup.

Guys, head up, head up.

THOMAS: Get low, get low.

ACE: Cheese and pepper! Get out of the way here.

ACE: Cheese and pepper!

The object is to get the ball in the net.

Concentrate.

Look where you’re shooting it.

What the hell!

(PISA EXCLAIMS)

Don’t look at me, look at the ball.

(TEAM WHOOPING)

(TEAM LAUGHING)

THOMAS: Control it, Daru. What is that? Is that a pass?

One touch. Pass.

One touch. Pass, pass. Come on.

Jaiyah, focus.

You’re controlling the back line, let’s go!

And how would I say,

“You’re all useless. I’m out of here”?

(SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Way too long. Forget it.

Trust.

Trust. Trust, okay. Trust.

(GRUNTS)

That’s it, don’t touch me. Trust is broken.

All right. It’s getting serious now.

We’re going to play full 90 minutes with the ball.

Shirts versus bibs. Three touches only. Go!

PLAYER: Go, go, go! (PLAYERS SHOUTING)

THOMAS: That’s it, push up, push up.

Pressure, pressure, pressure.

A little bit of urgency.

Look at him, he’s got all the space in the world.

Jaiyah! Look alive.

Concentrate. Focus, Jaiyah.

What are you waiting for? Pressure, pressure, pressure.

No, no, no! Squeeze him, Daru.

Stay on your feet, man.

(CHUCKLES)

Jaiyah, what are you doing over there?

Stop playing with your hair.

What the hell’s that? Come here.

Why are you fixing your hair?

This isn’t some voguing competition.

This is international soccer.

Stop that. Get your shit together.

(CHUCKLES)

Johnny, come back here when I’m talking to you.

(IN SING-SONG VOICE) My name is not Johnny.

Your registered name is Johnny.

You’ll be playing under the name Johnny.

And that’s what I’m going to be calling you.

So, get used to it, Johnny.

(DEEP VOICE) Call me Johnny, again, one more time, and see what happens.

Johnny.

(BOTH GRUNT)

Oh, Jaiyah, no, he’s a coach.

Naughty, naughty.

(GRUNTS) Yeah, yeah.

(ACE SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH, GRUNTS) It’s okay. I’m all right.

Okay.

Things are getting pretty intense.

So, it’s, uh, time to take a break, maybe.

Ace, call lunch.

ACE: You heard the man. Have some lunch.

Cooling down.

Especially, if your name rhymes with fire.

VOICEMAIL: Sixth saved message.

NICOLE: (ON VOICEMAIL) Okay, so, you don’t actually know how phones work

is the vibe I’m getting.

When it makes a noise, you answer it.

I mean, I know you’re probably working with the team right now but maybe stop yelling at them for a second and call me back.

I’m around.

(PATRONS CHATTERING)

WOMAN: Hey, celebrity guy!

Saw you on Who’s On The Plane, coach. (EXCLAIMS)

Soccer coach, you got the toughest job on the island.

These guys are (CHUCKLES) shocking.

Shocking. (LAUGHS) TAVITA: Ah, coach!

Welcome to our humble restaurant.

Tavita’s Restaurant. My restaurant.

How many jobs have you got?

Ah, we all have a few jobs.

We have to earn enough money to keep the team going.

Garcon! Son, Daru. What?

Please, escort our esteemed guest to our exclusive al fresco table.

Please. No special treatment. I’ll sit outside.

They look up to you. They depend on you.

You got to be demanding. But kind.

JAIYAH: Hello.

Sir.

Something to drink?

Whiskey, beer, wine?

Yeah, we got all those. Which one?

Whiskey, beer, and wine.

Mr. Rongen.

Please accept this appetizer of raw fish marinated in coconut cream.

It’s a real classic of the islands.

And it’s on the house.

How are things going?

I can honestly say it’s the worst bunch of players I’ve ever come across in my life.

Oh.

THOMAS: I have very particular methods.

And unless I get the support I need, I just don’t think it’s going to work.

We have our own methods too. Traditions.

It’s like with that appetizer.

I’m sure that little fish didn’t think that one day it would be chopped up, covered in spring onions, a little bit of tomato, yellow pepper, lemon zest and a dash of chili.

But if you ask anyone around here, it’s a better fish because of it.

You may need to just marinate, too.

See how you feel.

One goal.

One goal.

One goal.

One goal.

One goal.

One goal.

Wow. That’s really good. It’s really good!

♪ I want to swing♪

(CHANDELIER BY SIA PLAYING ON RADIO)

(TIRES SCREECH)

(CAR HORN HONKING)

(ENGINE STARTS)

Yes, I’m going to need immediate backup.

I’m engaged in a car chase.

DISPATCH: Wow, really? Looks like a Palagi guy, he’s driving like a maniac.

He’s maybe doing 35, 36 MPHs.

DISPATCH: That’s fast! Also, um, my, uh, my siren’s not working.

DISPATCH: Oh, jeez! Okay, stay safe, Rambo.

Oh, and can you get some kava from Uncle Pese on the way home?

Uh, copy that. Yeah, okay, I love you, Mom.

I love you too, baby. Okay, love you.

(CLEARING THROAT)

(MIMICS SIREN BLARING)

Shit. RAMBO: Yeah,

this is the policeman.

Can you please pull over to the side? Yes.

(RAMBO MIMICS SIREN BLARING)

You’re going to get out of the car on the count of three.

Are you ready?

Three.

Thank you.

Okay, you punk rocker.

Oh, hey, it’s the guy from the TV! (CHUCKLES)

That’s me. What seems to be the problem?

Oh, I’ll tell you what the… (COUGHING)

Hey, you okay?

Hey. Let it out, big guy. I got you.

(BOTH GRUNTING)

(GROANING)

Oh, thank you. I’m feeling better now.

Now, listen, normally,

I’d lock you up and throw away the key.

But right now, I’m just more angry at my mango juice can.

You stupid can! (GRUNTS)

Fleetwood Mac!

That’s a hell of a right foot you got there,

Fa’agaloagliga.

Rambo.

Rambo.

Gentlemen, allow me to present our newest recruit, Detective Rambo.

We already kicked him out. He tried to arrest us all.

You were playing on private property.

Yeah, that property is my dad’s property.

Well, I don’t make up the rules, okay?

Yeah? Yeah.

Bravo.

You’ve just fallen for the oldest trick in the book.

Can’t you see?

This is exactly what they want from us.

Who?

THOMAS: Them!

The Imperialists.

Divide and conquer.

But we’re not going to let them.

We’ve worked too long and hard for this.

You’ve only been here a few days.

Rome was built in a day, man.

I think we’re doing pretty well.

Now, how about this?

As a team, together, we climb that mountain.

Who’s with me?

No.

SAMSON: Coach, my ankle is hurting me.

I can’t hear you. Who’s with me?

No, no, my mom is expecting me.

Come on, guys! We’re all in this together.

Now, who’s going to climb that mountain with me as a team?

Are you with me?

Are you with me, my team?

Yeah, okay, then, yeah. All right!

ACE: Okay, let’s go. Yes.

PLAYER 1: Go.

THOMAS: Let’s go!

PLAYER 2: Yeah.

Now, we’re making some progress.

(INDISTINCT CONVERSATION) (CLANGING)

Wait, wait, wait. What’s going on?

Don’t sit down.

We’re not there yet. We haven’t even started.

Ace, what’s going on? It’s curfew time.

What?

The bell means curfew. It’s time to pray.

The whole island stops. Same time, every day.

But what am I supposed to do? I’m not religious.

Pretend?

Okay. I’ll pray for you.

THOMAS: When did that ever work? Tavita!

(PATRONS CHATTERING)

I’ve got three weeks left to the qualifiers.

We got a lot of work to do.

So, tomorrow, I’m going to start with fitness drills to see how many of them can last a full 90 minutes.

Ooh. Ah.

Thomas, ah, we won’t be training tomorrow.

Why not? It’s Sunday.

So? The team won’t train on a Sunday. That would be a sin.

Jesus Christ.

Mr. Rongen, you are very welcome to join us on Sunday.

It could be a nice experience.

You can see how we worship God.

This is church. Football is church.

You’ve got zero commitment.

We’re very committed to church.

This place is a carnival of crap.

DARU: Hey, look at this, look at this.

This bit, right here. Right here.

COMMENTATOR: Off goes the chair.

Ooh. DARU: This guy’s been fired from his three jobs because he can’t control himself.

PISA: I don’t know. He seems okay, now.

Maybe he’s different.

THOMAS: I’ve coached 11-year-olds better than your players!

Sure.

I mean, look at this place.

You’ve got a keyboard and mouse and no screen!

None of this shit makes any sense.

You don’t even have a full squad of players out there.

No wonder you’re the worst team in the world.

TAVITA: Mr. Rongen, you have made your point and now let me make mine.

Now, we here at FFAS are honored that you are here.

We want to improve, we want to learn from you.

But we will not deny who we are just to win.

These are our customs. These are our ways.

Your ways are shit. You’re failing.

It’s torture coaching this team.

Thomas, we were under the impression that you wanted to be here.

But if that is the wrong impression that we are under, then you are free to go.

Seek your happiness.

Unhappiness is a curse that I would not wish on anyone.

THOMAS: Okay. I quit.

(DOOR CLOSES)

I told you guys.

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

THOMAS: Hello?

Can you hear me?

GAIL: (ON PHONE) Yeah.

So, uh, here’s the news. Fresh off the press. I quit.

You can’t quit. I quit.

Today, officially.

Well, then go un-quit. Once you quit, you got to commit to the quit. You know this.

It’s like this team, they don’t even want to win. (SIGHS)

For them, it’s like some sort of game.

It is a game, Thomas.

It’s a sport.

I can’t work with these guys.

I can’t help them.

Thomas, we didn’t send you there to help them.

We sent you there to help you.

I don’t need help. I’m coming home.

Home, I’m sorry, Thomas, but where is home now?

Look, we’ll be there in a couple weeks for the qualifiers, okay? And we’ll get a drink.

All right? (HANGS UP PHONE)

(SIGHS)

(TEAM SINGING IN SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Dear Lord, if you could please let the coach come back wherever he is, to help us score that one goal.

Just one.

Not too much to ask, I think, given we go to church every Sunday and give 10 percent of our income.

But, uh, hey!

All in your time. Amene.

ALL: Amene.

(TEAM CLAPPING)

(IN ENGLISH) Ah, that didn’t work.

Ace, looks like you’re coaching today.

ACE: Okay, just go for a run to warm up your bodies, huh?

NICOLE: (ON VOICEMAIL) Okay, Dad.

I’m sorry I yelled at you.

But I was just pissed because… because you should be here for this.

They asked me to lead the team out on Saturday.

Where are you?

(OBJECTS CLATTER) (JAIYAH EXHALES)

Hi, coach.

Hi.

I just wanted to come by and say sorry about body slamming you to the ground and choking you, and also, just wanted to say thank you for keeping me on the team so far.

Well, uh, I’d like to apologize too for not respecting your name,

Jaiyah.

Here. Peace offering.

What is it? It’s from team lunch.

You keep missing out

because you get angry and run away.

You know, you should eat first.

And, then get angry.

Makes sense.

Will you join me?

Sure.

JAIYAH: College is cool.

And I do some performing when I’m not studying.

So, do you think you’ll come back to the island once you finish your degree?

No. There’s really not much on the island for young people.

The job choices come down to the tuna cannery or the army.

And I don’t really like fish or guns.

So, you think you’ll stay in Hawaii then?

Hmm. Maybe.

I mean, there’s not as many fa’afafine there, so you do get a bit more prejudice.

So, I hear you’re married?

And you have a daughter.

Yeah, but tell me more about this, um, fa’afafine thing.

What do you want to know?

I mean, what are you down there?

Does it really matter to you?

Well, it matters to the officials in the game.

Okay, well, right now I’m legal.

But I have been taking hormones for a while and…

Right now?

Let’s just say that eventually, I technically won’t qualify for the team.

Can we talk soccer?

Yes.

(WHISTLE BLOWS) THOMAS: What am I watching here?

Why is everyone bunched up like old ladies gathered at a cake convention?

Well, how are we supposed to know about formation?

No one taught us, including you.

Fair point.

THOMAS: Look at this guy.

Just standing there in open space doing nothing. Reminds me of you.

That is me.

Oh.

Well, you’re a natural born defender.

Not a forward.

Wait, who is that in goal?

That’s Nicky Salapu.

That’s Nicky Salapu? Yeah.

The guy that let in over 30 goals?

Yeah, but he saved another 60.

THOMAS: He looks pretty good.

He’s one of the best players we’ve ever had.

He’s a legend.

A legend of the fallen.

Shut up. You shut up, it’s my house.

It’s my island.

I don’t even know why we’re watching this.

Because most of these players are retired.

But they only gave up because everyone else gave up on them.

But if you came back to coach us, I could help you find them.

Because they’re still good.

I’ll be the judge of that.

(INTRIGUING MUSIC PLAYING)

Hey, famous guy and Jaiyah!

Thomas Rongen. Nicky Salapu.

THOMAS: Well I’ll be a son of a bitch.

The chickens have come home to roast.

You’re the best goalkeeper American Samoa ever had.

I let in over 30 goals at international level.

You’re the best goalkeeper American Samoa ever had.

Isn’t there something about that defeat that still haunts you?

That you can’t let go of? Of course.

I replay that match on Xbox.

American Samoa versus Australia.

But I play alone.

And I get my revenge every day by beating them 32, nil.

Don’t you want revenge on Australia?

But instead of Australia, it would be on a bunch of other Polynesian islands.

Some of them are close to Australia.

How did you get this coaching job?

You’re terrible at this.

Can you just come back to the team?

They need work, yeah. And they need a lot of work, but I see a bunch of guys in that team, including her who all work multiple jobs just to play.

Who’ve got more heart and they’re dreaming bigger than nearly any of the jaded fools that mess around in the pro league for money they don’t deserve.

Don’t tell them I said that.

(CAR DOOR CLOSES) Is he interested in playing?

No interest, whatsoever.

Who’s next?

(SCHOOL BELL RINGS)

That’s called chutzpah, Armani.

And we like it.

Excuse me, Squire?

Stretch the muscle. Ace?

Mr. Rongen! I thought you’d abandoned us.

Ace, I’d like to apologize.

Oh. But I won’t.

Oh. As a rule, I don’t apologize.

I’m not apologizing for that, either. So, sorry.

Daru? Daru, Daru.

Look, I know you don’t like me.

I don’t like me.

But we need to work together.

This formation is known as the Sad Snowman.

This player, interchangeable with this player.

This can cross here,

switch it around, works this way too.

So, who we got next?

(EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD PLAYING)

We got another one.

Nice one, Armani.

ALL: Wax on, wax off.

Wax on, wax off.

THOMAS: We’ve also got the three pigs.

The wolf is coming all the way back here.

He’s going to blow your house down.

This is where we want to go.

All roads lead to Rome.

What is this shit?

Fucking Sharpie. Get me another board.

Think of it like a fish.

On its own, slimy, smelly, tasteless somewhat.

But add some coconut cream, lemon zest, chili, let that sucker marinate.

Now you’ve got something special.

Allow yourself to marinate.

You’ll be a better fish for it.

Thank you, coach.

(PLAYERS GROAN) THOMAS: Ice is your friend.

It will help those muscles.

Oh, got you in the nads there.

Just another 25 minutes.

(IMPERCEPTIBLE)

Three, four. And then, other side.

Way off! Miss.

He finds it. (ALL CHEERING)

Get up. Not at the top yet. Keep going.

I know it’s hard, but if we can do this as a team, we have a chance.

THOMAS: We’ve got defense sorted.

But our midfield… Mm-hmm.

THOMAS: All right, my man.

All right. There you go.

Thank you, coach.

See you Monday? For sure.

I won’t let you down, coach. Amazing.

Excellent.

(TIRES SCREECH)

(WOMAN SCREAMS) (PEOPLE CHATTERING)

So, who’s next?

(CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

THOMAS: (IN ENGLISH) Nice. Nice, Daru. Good energy.

Good energy. Good, good, good.

Hop, hop, hop. Bunny rabbit.

Push, push, push.

THOMAS: Good. Control that back line.

That’s it, Jaiyah, leadership. That’s what I’m talking about.

Pele, Maradona, Rongen. Whoo!

ALL: Wax on, wax off.

Wax on, wax off.

Wax on, wax off.

Look, right here. Maldini.

(INDISTINCT CONVERSATION)

(TEAM CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

(ALL CHEERING)

THOMAS: (IN ENGLISH) Keep it up, keep it up.

Keep going, keep going.

I know it’s hard, but keep going.

I know you can make it to the top.

Come on, guys, keep going, keep going.

Don’t stop, don’t stop.

(TEAM CHATTERING) (THOMAS GROANING)

(APPLAUSE)

(INHALES DEEPLY)

Oh, God!

Oh, God. It’s beautiful. (PANTING)

DARU: You okay, coach?

It’s beautiful.

Oh, my God.

It looked so easy from the bottom.

Can’t breathe. (BREATHING HEAVILY)

This spot here, this place, tells of how your brave brothers fought to protect American Samoa and the rest of the world against evil.

Well, tomorrow, we set off for the greatest war of them all!

The war for World Cup qualification.

TEAM: Yeah!

(TEAM CHEERING)

THOMAS: Oh, my God, the air is thin up here.

In two days’ time, we face our first enemy, Tonga.

Screw those guys!

(TEAM AGREEING)

There have been so many wars against those assholes.

But the war of 1825, where they came to take… they came to take our tuna.

But we handed their asses to them in a giant tuna can.

(TEAM MUTTERS IN CONFUSION)

Where am I?

TAVITA: Uh, Mr. Rongen, are you feeling all right?

What was that? I still have to pack.

I always leave packing to the last minute. It’s so weird.

(ALL CHATTERING)

ACE: Healing waters. Yeah, take him down.

Yeah. It’s all right, coach.

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

PRIEST: And so, we turn to Matthew 17 when a man says to lesu, “Lord, have mercy on my son. For he is a lunatic and is very ill. For he often falls into the fir and often into the water. Very clumsy, my boy. And lesu said, “Bring him here to me.”

Good old lesu.

And lesu rebuked him.

And the demon came out of him.

And the boy was cured at once.

(ALL CHEERING)

(PLAYER LAUGHS) PRIEST: What a beautiful day.

We give thanks for the beauties outside, all the blessings.

And, uh, before we get further into the proceedings, a little housekeeping.

Someone was seen rifling around in, uh, one of the dumpsters outside

Sione Malacoco’s Fish and Chip Shop.

Fess up, who was that?

Trying to get some leftover scraps.

We don’t do that.

Okay? Now, what a day.

Our wonderful team are going across the seas to do the impossible.

To go and win a game of soccer.

Wow!

Wowie!

Some would say that the other teams are too big.

Well, you know what I say to them?

Read the Bible.

Have you ever heard of a little guy called David fighting against a big guy called the Goliath?

(SHOUTING IN VIDEOGAME)

That is a cautionary tale.

Don’t mess with the little guy.

And what we have here is a whole bunch of little guys, don’t we?

Little guys, who probably can’t do it.

Going off across the seas to fight a whole lot of Goliaths.

So, go, my little Davids.

Let’s take it to Mr. Goliath out there.

And let’s get one for American Samoa.

Okay.

(SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(CONGREGATION MEMBER COUGHS)

(TRIUMPHANT MUSIC PLAYING)

(CROWD CHEERING)

So, off they go.

The American Samoan soccer team

hoping not to embarrass the nation any further.

Cut. That was really good, Gus. (GRUNTS)

(SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(CROWD CHEERING)

Go, go, go, go!

Tavita, let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go! Come on, move it!

Let’s get this bird in the air!

Wowie, that was some journey!

Yeah, I think I got the jet lags. I need a nap.

Guys, it was only a 35 minute flight.

Hey, guys!

We’ve officially crossed the date line.

It’s now yesterday.

(PLAYERS EXCLAIM) PLAYER 1: Time travel!

(CAR HORN HONKS) Look how fast these crazies are going.

You know, someone’s going to get killed.

Slow down. Heaven’s full.

(PLAYER 2 WHISTLES)

DARU: Yo, some pretty sweet digs.

Okay, boys. Good, you’re settling in.

Now, I just have one note here.

Shh. The player reception is at 5:30 in the PM time. And it’s compulsory feetwear.

So, wear something on your feet, please.

Like a slippers. Or a sandal. Okay, yeah.

(PLAYER 3 GRUNTING) Thanks.

(TONGAN PLAYERS HISSING)

Tonga, Tonga. (PLAYERS MUTTERING)

(PLAYERS MAKING KISSING SOUNDS)

(HISSING AND KISSING SOUNDS STOPS)

Nice of you guys to show up.

That’s very kind. Thank you.

It was an insult!

Oh, I should’ve known you were going to put a twist on it.

So, this is the competition.

Nothing to worry about.

No. Things have changed. We got a new coach.

Your coach is shit. He’s a failure.

He’s just like you.

Obviously, you’re trying to get under our skin.

But American Samoan skin is impenetrable. Okay?

Unless you got a sharp object like, um, scissors, um, screwdriver, needle.

Anything that kind of comes down to a really sharp point.

(SCOFFS)

See you at the party.

(TONGAN PLAYERS HISSING)

Don’t forget to bring your mascot. (CHUCKLES)

(PLAYERS MAKING KISSING SOUNDS)

(TONGAN PLAYERS SPEAKING OTHER LANGUAGE)

“See you at the party later.” “See you at the party later.”

“See you at the party later.” (CHUCKLES)

It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Oh, the glitz, the glamour, the little flowers on the table!

Thomas, isn’t this wonderful?

Look, it’s a veritable who’s that of world soccer.

Let’s get out of here, T. Hit the beach.

Six pack. This isn’t us.

We just got here. The night’s still young.

Oh, shit.

MEN: Hey!

There he is. There he is. T! T! (CHUCKLES)

KEITH: Good day, mate.

ANGUS: Fancy seeing you here.

What’s happening? Hey! Hey!

Hi. All right. Hi.

What’s going on, huh? Angus.

Hey!

Hey, give him a bumming. Give him a bumming.

Oh, yeah. Bumming! Please.

That’s enough! That’s enough! There you go. Right-oh.

Settle down, mate. It’s good to see you.

Tavita, this is, uh, Angus, Keith. Socceroos.

Oh, the Socceroos, our arch nemesises.

Hey? What are you…?

ANGUS AND KEITH: Oh!

American Samoa. (CHUCKLES)

We played in that game. We played in that game.

Yeah, show him your tattoo. Tattoo!

Show him the tattoo, show him the tattoo.

Wait, wait. He doesn’t show anyone this. Let me show you the tattoo.

ANGUS AND KEITH: Oh!

♪ 31, 31♪ ♪ 31, 31, 31♪

Ah, mate, we’ve moved on. Put it away.

No, we haven’t. It’s part of our heritage.

I’m putting it away. So, hey?

Coaching American Samoa.

Took the job that nobody wanted.

He hasn’t even been…

Right! Good on ya.

…fired yet. Hey, no, but seriously, how they going? You having a few wins?

KEITH: Yeah.

We’re, you know, we’re…

ANGUS: Oi! A-Train.

Toot toot! (CHUCKLES)

KEITH: A-Train!

Hi. Hey. Hey. Hey.

Oh. Oh.

You look good. I missed you.

You look good.

ALEX: Hey, there he is.

Hey. Alex. Hey.

You’re looking kind of tired. Yes, I was going to say he’s looking pretty tired, isn’t he? Jet lag.

Thank you. Um, Tavita, I’d like to introduce you to Gail, my wife.

Separated. Oh.

And this is Alex. Uh, my boss and Gail’s manfriend.

Mr. Alex, on behalf of FFAS, we just want to thank you for sending us this super coach.

He’s really turned things around.

Great. Hey, can I talk to you real quick outside?

Sure. He wants to have a word with you outside.

It won’t take a second.

(PLAYERS SINGING IN SAMOAN)

(TONGAN PLAYERS LAUGHING)

Jaiyah!

Jaiyah!

(TONGAN PLAYERS LAUGH)

(EXHALES) Man. I got to say, really proud of you.

We never thought you’d make it. Congrats.

Thanks, Alex. I mean, I don’t know what to say.

I’m so proud of what we’ve done here.

Yeah. That’s great.

Not that it really matters anymore.

What do you mean?

Don’t worry about it. It’s just…

You have shown real improvement and that’s what matters.

I’m going to find you a real job after this.

Alex, what are you saying?

Look, Thomas, I once had this dog.

I know about the dog. No, this is a different dog.

You don’t know this dog. This dog was, uh, this dog was never any good.

He was slow and he couldn’t run, and he never caught a stick or did anything and so, the kindest thing to do was to put him down.

So, we killed him. Shot him.

The team is the dog?

Yeah, of course, the team is the dog. It’s a metaphor.

How many dogs do you think I’ve killed?

Look, the herd is only as fast as its slowest animal.

That’s like circle-of-life shit.

Well, I believe we can score a goal.

A goal? Who gives a shit about a goal?

What if we win the match?

(CHUCKLES) Come on.

I don’t think they have a word in their language for win.

Look, man. Soccer is not in their DNA. They’re weak.

No, Alex. They are not weak.

Some of the sacrifices these players have made, I mean, I’m talking about life-altering sacrifices.

Look, I wish there was something I could say that would magically make you feel better about this. Oh…

Hakuna matata.

(DRUMS PLAYING IN THE DISTANCE)

(PLAYERS SINGING IN SAMOAN)

COACH D’AMATO: (ON TV) The biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today.

Now, either we heal as a team or we’re going to crumble…

(KNOCKING ON DOOR)

…inch by inch, play by play, till we’re finished.

We’re in hell right now.

We can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us…

Hi. Hey.

Nightcap? Sure.

Let’s go. We can fight our way back…

Oh, right. …into the light.

We can climb out of hell…

THOMAS: You know, I think island life has had a real effect on me.

I feel like a new man. Kind of Zen.

You seem the same.

Really? Mm-hmm.

Are you happy?

I feel terrific.

Tomorrow, we’re going to lose the match.

Oh, come on. And get kicked out of International Football. You don’t really think that.

Pretty much the end of my career.

You’re the best.

I’m a laughingstock.

You’re a real buzzkill.

Oh, no. Yeah.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

This is fun.

This is fun.

I miss you.

I miss you too.

I love you.

You define love as wanting to be wanted.

You just don’t want to be alone.

Yeah? That’s the definition of love.

I’ll always have a broken heart, but I’m moving.

Trying to move on.

It’s been two years and I don’t think you’re even talking about it.

What’s there to talk about?

All right, let’s not talk then.

Come on, old man.

Oh, God. Are we doing this? Really?

GAIL: Come on. Okay.

GAIL: I bet you can’t get it.

THOMAS: Well, you’re supposed to put it on the ground.

(GAIL CHUCKLES) It’s called football.

Hey!

GAIL: (CHUCKLES) Don’t tell me what to do.

TAVITA: You have a very fascinating family dynamic, Thomas.

You know, I saw this German film.

And they seemed to have a similar arrangement.

You know, there was this one woman and all these guys.

I couldn’t figure out which one was married to her because they were all acting like they were married to her.

ACE: Lovely jogging.

Best one I’ve seen yet.

DARU: Hey, it’s Nicky!

Oh, Christmas has come early. It’s Nicky Salapu!

Nicky Salapu! Nicky!

(NICKY CHUCKLES) (PLAYERS EXCLAIMING)

Where did he come from?

Nicky Salapu.

THOMAS: Okay, okay. Yes!

THOMAS: Guys, come on, come on. Leave him alone.

Let’s go, let’s go. ACE: Come on,

do your stretching. Let’s get some breakfast,

and, uh, hydrate. That way.

In that order.

(PLAYERS CHATTERING)

You made it.

I guess, uh, my speech actually had some effect?

Well, no.

Actually, I did some research on you, and it turns out you’re a bigger loser than I am.

Yeah, I mean, you’ve failed so many times or been fired.

It actually makes me feel better about being the worst goalkeeper in the world.

Oh.

(LIPS TRILLING)

(TONGAN PLAYERS SHOUTING)

(PLAYERS MAKING KISSING SOUNDS)

(TONGAN PLAYERS HISSING)

(KISSING SOUNDS AND HISSING STOPS)

American Samoa, in a few hours we will see you on the field with Tonga!

Tonga!

TONGAN TEAM: Tonga!

Tonga, in a few hours, you meet American Samoa on the field.

Also.

(TONGAN TEAM LAUGHING)

(LAUGHING STOPS)

Tonga! Move it out!

(TONGAN PLAYERS HISSING)

(PLAYERS MAKING KISSING SOUNDS, STOPS)

All right, guys. They’re scared.

(PLAYERS AGREEING)

COMMENTATOR: Welcome to today’s World Cup qualifying match between Tonga and American Samoa.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Here’s your seat, darling. Here’s your seat.

Hi, fellas. Alligator! How are ya?

(THOMAS CLEARS THROAT)

Don’t know what to say, really.

A few minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives.

All comes down to today.

Now, either we heal as a team.

Or we’re going to crumble, inch by inch, play by play, till we’re finished.

Hang on. That’s the Any Given Sunday speech.

(PLAYERS AGREEING)

No, Daru.

So, I’d like you to see this space as a safe space where you can share your stories, your thoughts, hopes and dreams.

So, please. Anyone.

Hey, what’s up, everybody? It’s me, Smiley.

PLAYER: Hey, Smiley.

Um, it’s funny you guys call me Smiley.

I don’t really smile much outside of this place.

As some of you may know, I had a pretty rough year this past year after both my parents got arrested for…

Let’s go, guys, time to play.

Another time, Smiley.

Okay, guys, we’ve done the hard work.

Let’s do this!

Wait a minute, whoa, whoa, whoa!

Where’s Jaiyah?

(TEAM CHATTERING) Jaiyah, where is she?

Where’s Jaiyah?

(SNIFFLING)

(DOOR OPENS, CLOSES)

(JAIYAH GROANS IN FRUSTRATION)

Jaiyah! What’s going on?

(SIGHS) Go away, coach.

What’s wrong? I just… (SOBS)

You know what? Pregame nerves. Totally normal.

Pregame nerves.

Everybody gets them. Hey, hey, hey, come on, come on. Oi, hey, hey.

(SOBBING) Whoa, whoa, whoa.

What is it? Hey, talk to me.

I went off my hormones.

I went off my hormones so I could perform better.

For you and for the boys.

And now I don’t feel like myself.

I feel ugly. And everyone knows it. And…

I feel crazy.

And I can’t do this, coach, I can’t.

Hey, hey? (SNIFFLING)

Look at me. Keep your head up, keep your head up.

Come on, keep your head up. Be proud.

You inspire those players in there.

I can’t inspire them.

I need your help.

They’re not going to follow me.

But they will follow you.

Will you do me a favor, and lead them out onto the pitch?

(SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

Yeah?

Come on. Up you get.

Let’s get you ready.

Okay, right. Let’s fix your hair, here.

Yeah. That’s nice.

Yeah, that looks terrible. It’s kind of nice.

It’s the way I used to do my daughter’s hair.

She liked it. (CHUCKLES)

Well, she was probably lying to you.

Very possible.

You okay? I’m okay.

Okay.

I’ll see you out there.

(SIGHS)

(DRUMS PLAYING) (SPECTATORS CHEERING)

(BREATHING DEEPLY)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) American Samoa!

(TEAM EXCLAIMS)

(CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

(TONGAN TEAM CHANTING IN OTHER LANGUAGE)

(IN ENGLISH) Hey, boss. I got these made up for us.

For you and me.

The two Miyagis. Yeah. Two Miyagis.

CASHIER: Shh, shh, shh!

Hey, hey, hey.

(SPEAKS SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) It’s starting, it’s starting. Shh.

I’m embarrassed already.

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

(PLAYER 1 EXCLAIMS)

MAN: Let’s go, boys.

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING)

THOMAS: Excellent. Yes, Jaiyah.

Open it, give him some space.

(THOMAS SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

ACE: Go, Jonah! Hit it!

Go, Jonah!

THOMAS: Kick it!

(GROANS)

This close. It was this close.

Here we go again.

Watch, watch, watch.

I got him! I got him!

RUTH: Go, Daru!

THOMAS: Daru, stay on your feet!

Stay on your feet!

Hold that back line.

ACE: Yeah.

Squeeze him, Jaiyah! Don’t let him roll you.

Come out, Nicky!

Come on, Nicky, you can do it!

(GRUNTS)

THOMAS: Good, good.

That’s it.

Jaiyah! Don’t let him roll you like that.

It’s okay.

Guys, guys! Go, go, go!

Pass it off! Pass it off!

Find the player. Come on, Samson.

ACE: Samson!

THOMAS: Hunt him down.

First try, Jonah. First try!

(GROANS)

Not your day, mate.

Shut up!

Don’t get fired, mate.

Get back, back, back! Back!

Come on, come on, come on.

Beat him to it.

(TONGAN PLAYER GRUNTS)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

THOMAS: Daru, what was that? Sorry. I’m sorry.

Come on!

THOMAS: Bring it in!

Bring it in. Come on.

Rambo, switch with Vegas. Daru, be careful.

Nicole, I need you to… Nicole?

Jaiyah, I need you to control that back line.

You have to communicate!

Now, I made you captain. Now own it. Let’s go!

Okay, coach. Come on, team!

Let’s go, team!

Let’s go, team!

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(GRUNTS) Keep going.

Go. Pass, pass. Pass.

(SPECTATORS GROAN)

Pass it. Support him. What the…

REFEREE: Coach. Okay.

Shit!

(CHUCKLES)

Jaiyah, hold that back line! Where are you going?

(PLAYERS SHOUTING)

Ah! Shit.

SPECTATOR: Let’s go, Rambo. Come on.

(GROANS)

(DARU GRUNTS)

(SPECTATORS EXCLAIM)

(NICKY GRUNTS)

(CHEERING)

COMMENTATOR: Goal!

SPECTATORS: No!

Oh, shit! Fuck!

(ALL GROANING)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

COMMENTATOR: And that’s halftime.

Tonga takes a one nil lead into the half.

(THOMAS GRUNTS)

(TEAM CHATTERING)

(YELLING) Shut up!

Sit down!

What the hell is going on out there?

What about all the training?

This is bullshit.

I would’ve killed to play international soccer.

But you losers don’t seem to give two shits.

You’re losers!

JONAH: I’m sorry, coach.

We’re just not feeling it.

(MOCKINGLY) “Sorry, coach. I’m just not feeling it.”

What does that mean, “not feeling it”? Nothing!

It does mean something, Thomas.

Feeling is very important to us.

It’s not that we’ve forgotten what you have taught us.

It’s… it’s just that we’ve taken too much to heart.

It’s too tense. We keep thinking we might win.

We’ve never fought like that before.

Well, don’t worry. Because that’s not gonna happen the way you’re playing. Trust me.

(SPEAKING SAMOAN)

Yeah. Ah, Samson says the guys are really stressed out.

And stress is a silent killer.

It’s like when the Predator…

THOMAS: Really?

ACE: Yeah.

Great. Perfect. I give up. Sick of this shit.

Good luck.

Mr. Rongen? Mr. Rongen.

What? What do you want from me, Tavita?

Look, I like you. But I’m done.

I got to get off this island.

And you’re not going to change my mind with any stories of marinated fish.

I’m not here to talk about marinated fish.

But I want you to be happy.

I’m not happy. I’m not a happy person.

And I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to get your “one goal.”

That’s all right.

I’m kind of used to that by now, Mr. Rongen.

It’s not my fault, man. I tried.

I know, I know. They don’t listen to me.

I know. It’s over!

They’re shutting you down. Oh. That I did not know.

(SIGHS) That will be why Mr. Alex is here.

(TAVITA SIGHS)

Oh, well.

On the bright side, I got to go on a tropical island getaway.

Take in the sights with my friend, Thomas.

What is it with you?

Why are you always so positive?

It’s sickening.

You should coach them. They believe in you.

They believe in you.

But you have to show them who you are.

They don’t know you. You don’t talk to them.

Ever since you got to our island, you’ve been somewhere else.

Even now, you’re somewhere else.

Maybe it’s in the past, because you thought you were happier then.

But I think you could be happy here, now.

But you actually have to be here, now.

I can’t win.

Then lose.

But don’t lose alone.

Lose with us.

And there’s always the second half.

That’s another chance.

Second halves everywhere.

(SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(TEAM CHATTERING)

THOMAS: Right. Get rid of it.

This is all nonsense.

(THOMAS GRUNTS)

(EXHALES)

Mmm. Okay.

Shouldn’t have, uh, called you losers.

Um, it’s not true. You’re not.

I’m the loser.

So, (CLEARS THROAT) two years ago, I lost my daughter in a car accident.

Her name was Nicole.

And that’s her hat.

She was the greatest, you know.

She was, um, bright and funny, and, uh, she loved soccer. She loved it.

We used to sit up and talk about the game.

Most nights.

And then, uh, one day, she was on her way to practice and she lost control and crashed.

That was it.

She was gone.

I lost my baby.

(SNIFFLES) Sorry. Okay.

I guess, I got pretty angry at the world but mainly, I was angry at myself. Maybe… if I took her to practice, she’d still be here.

(EXHALES) Maybe if I was there for her a bit more.

A lot of maybes.

Why’d I take this job?

For the challenge? No.

I couldn’t give two shits about turning this team around.

I was, uh, forced to take it.

It was the only job I could get.

And I didn’t want it, guys.

You know, I thought I was better than you.

And fact of the matter is, you don’t need me at all.

You’re already perfect.

So basically, my advice to you would be, “Don’t listen to me.”

Go out there and do what you do.

Or don’t do it.

Whatever. You know?

You’ve reminded me that I’ve always loved playing more than winning.

So, enjoy this match.

I mean, life’s short. Football’s a game.

I just want you all to be happy.

But we want to win, coach.

Then be happy.

(SINGING IN SAMOAN)

(SNIFFLES)

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

(IN ENGLISH) Coach, nice pep talk.

(SINGING CONTINUES)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

Hey, Chief, got any spare chicken, there?

(UPBEAT MUSIC PLAYING)

THOMAS: No pressure.

Enjoy yourselves.

It’s just a game.

(PLAYER 2 SPEAKING SAMOAN)

THOMAS: (IN ENGLISH) Life is good.

ACE: Yes, Jaiyah. Yeah.

Oh, good kicking!

Push up, push up, push up.

THOMAS: Look for it.

(MUSIC STOPS)

(INHALES DEEPLY)

(EXHALES)

(SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

COMMENTATOR: Goal! Yeah!

Yeah! (ALL CHEERING)

We scored a goal! We scored a goal!

We actually scored a goal!

(GROANS)

(ALL CHEERING)

That’s my boy! That’s my boy!

COMMENTATOR: This is the first goal ever for American Samoa.

Let’s go, Samoa!

My baby! Rambo did it, you guys.

COMMENTATOR: What a match!

(ALL CHEERING)

Wow!

(LAUGHING)

(ALL CHEERING)

Whoa, no, no, no. Whoa. Somebody!

Darling! Darling!

Oh, no!

Help! Somebody.

I need medical assistance over in section…

Hey, Ma. Dad. Dad. Wake up.

Dad, it’s me. Dad?

RUTH: No, no, no. Okay, okay.

DARU: Hey, hey.

Calm down. Calm down.

What happened?

(TAVITA SIGHS)

They said I suffered a massive stroke.

Heat stroke.

Yeah, a massive heat stroke.

It was awful, son.

Scary for everyone involved.

But in time, maybe even an hour, I think I’ll be up on my feet again.

Okay, you’re going to be okay.

How much did we lose by? 10-one?

What was the final score? Calm down, Dad. Okay?

Breathe in. (INHALES) Out. (INHALES, EXHALES)

I’m ready, I’m ready, okay? Yeah. Yeah, okay. Calm down.

Tell me what happened. Calm down. You calm?

TAVITA: Okay. Yeah. Go.

Now I’m going to tell you what happened.

Tell me what happened. All right.

DARU: Possession kept going back and forth.

And things were tense.

Because we knew the whole country was watching.

And that people would talk about this day for years to come.

And then Tonga broke with the ball.

I got him! It was a one-on-one between me and Alishe and I thought I could take the ball.

But if I dived in and missed, there was going to be a certain goal.

But it was different.

I felt different.

I stood up and I tackled him.

(TONGAN PLAYER GRUNTS) (SPECTATORS CHEER)

Suddenly, we’re on the attack.

I played the ball up to Vegas.

He saw the keeper out of position and he shot with his almighty power.

But the keeper saved and scrambled it behind for a corner.

Yes! This is it, this is it.

Jaiyah!

Get up.

DARU: In the box there was a lot of tussling, and things were getting serious.

Deph took the corner.

It was a right-footed in-swinger.

It looked like Tonga would clear.

But then…

Jaiyah.

Goal.

Yeah!

(ALL CHEERING) (JAIYAH LAUGHING)

That’s what I’m talking about, boy.

Goal!

COMMENTATOR: And another historic goal!

(ALL LAUGHING)

Unbelievable! American Samoa…

Yes!

COMMENTATOR: …the last-ranked team in the world, might actually win this thing!

We scored? Yeah.

A goal? An actual goal? Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Another one?

Okay. Did you hear that? Two!

Everything was going great. With only 30 seconds left on the clock. We were winning.

But then the referee decided to add five minutes to the game.

What a disgrace. Yeah.

TAVITA: Then what happened?

DARU: The match was almost over.

We were holding up under the pressure.

(INHALES SHARPLY, EXHALES)

TONGAN PLAYER: Got it!

Stop, thief!

You can only get away with one of those a game.

The ball was passed wide and the Tonga winger sent over a great cross.

Nicky was catching these all day, but under the pressure…

(NICKY GRUNTS)

…he fumbled it.

It hit his hand and it was rolling towards the goal.

Oh, shit.

DARU: Then, out of nowhere came Jaiyah.

She slid in at the last minute and hooked the ball off the line, saving a certain goal.

Yes, Jaiyah! Yes!

But then, the ball fell to Alishe and he wasn’t going to miss.

I didn’t have any option.

As he drew back to shoot, I dived in.

(DARU GRUNTS)

Clear penalty. It was my fault.

(WHISTLE BLOWS) Hit him, darling.

You idiot! Then what happened?

Nicky Salapu had to face the penalty by himself.

Oh, Jesus, it gets worse.

RUTH: Oh, God.

(SPECTATORS CHEERING)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

“I had been catching these all day. It was my time.”

ACE: Everything was on the line.

Oh, the pressure!

Yeah. He was under pressure. Oh, pressure.

Absolutely. Pressure. Oh! Pressure cooker.

THOMAS: Come on, Nicky.

PLAYER 3: Go, Nicky.

THOMAS: Let’s go, Nicky!

PLAYER 3: Let’s go!

Let’s go, Nicky.

TAVITA: Don’t tell me

Nicky Salapu had a meltdown in goal?

The horror of those 31 goals against Australia 10 years ago came back and haunted him.

(GROANS)

I suppose he lost his composure and just stepped aside and let the ball go in.

Damn everyone watching!

Is that what happened?

He probably was freaking out a bit.

“But I wasn’t freaking out.”

ACE: Nicky wasn’t freaking out because he knew he had the history of a thousand chiefs holding him up.

But he just had to let go of everything.

“The past.”

ACE: The present.

NICKY: “The future.

“But I had to let it go.

(EXHALES)

” All of it.”

He just had to become Nicky.

I’m Nicky Salapu. Say it.

I’m Nicky Salapu.

(TENSE CHOIR MUSIC PLAYING)

(WHISTLE BLOWS)

(GRUNTING)

(CHEERS)

(ALL CHEERING)

(SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

DARU: The whistle blew.

For a second, we didn’t know what was going on.

We never felt like this before.

Until we’d realized…

COMMENTATOR: With a final score of two-to-one, American Samoa…

We win! We won! We won! We won!

(ALL CHEERING)

Yeah!

COMMENTATOR: American Samoa wins its first match ever!

(TRIUMPHANT MUSIC PLAYING)

ALEX: We did this!

All right! (CHUCKLES)

(THOMAS CHUCKLES)

(CHEERING CONTINUES)

We won? We won?

We won. You won a game, Dad. What?

Yes, Jesus, we won! Oh, we won!

Yes! (DARU CHUCKLES)

I always knew it. (CHUCKLES)

Oh, son, I knew you could do it.

Oh, my heart, my heart! Okay.

One goal! One goal!

(WAVES LAPPING) (BIRDS CHIRPING)

VOICEMAIL: Last saved message.

NICOLE: (ON VOICEMAIL) Okay, seriously, get Mom to show you how to check your messages.

Although, I guess if you’re hearing this, you’ve figured it out.

Anyway, to answer your question, school is good. It’s great, actually.

I genuinely like all my classes.

Intro to Psych is really cool, and so is Anthro.

That professor is just awesome.

And everyone’s happy to be here.

I’ve met so many new people.

And there’s just so much to talk about.

I mean, it’s like anything’s possible, you know?

I don’t know. I guess I’m just saying there’s more to life than soccer.

Okay. Love you.

(THOMAS BREATHING HEAVILY)

(BELL TOLLING)

(ALL SINGING IN SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Dear Lord. What more can I say?

Nothing, really.

I had a dream and it came true.

We scored a goal.

And then we scored another goal.

And then we won a game!

And then, we lost the next game.

And we didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

But you know what, Lord? Despite that loss, I’m happy.

So, thank you for sending us Mr. Rongen.

We’ve become quite attached to him.

It’s like finding a little lost white kid at the mall and telling him which way to go.

Thank you, Lord. Amen.

ALL: Amen.

THOMAS: Dear Lord.

I’m praying as a weird way of letting the team know that I’ve been offered a job with MLS side, LA Galaxy starting immediately.

(GROUP MURMURING)

But as of today, I’ve decided not to take the job. Amen.

GROUP: Amen.

TAVITA: Wow, Lord, that is a huge gesture and a real credit to us as a team.

Uh, well, Lord, the thing is I’m still leaving.

(GROUP MURMURING)

But not for football, Lord.

I want some time for me.

Uh, you know, so I can remind myself that there’s other more important things to life than this game. Amen.

GROUP: Amen.

TAVITA: Dear Lord.

Way to get our hopes up, jeez!

It’s a real rollercoaster ride, this one.

Oh, well, in that case, please tell Mr. Rongen that we love him very much.

And that he will always have a home here in American Samoa.

(TAVITA SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(GROUP SPEAKING SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Amen.

(ALL SINGING IN SAMOAN)

(SOFT SENTIMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

(GROUP CHANTING INDISTINCTLY)

(CHANTING IN SAMOAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Do you want to get your asses kicked by Tonga? Go! Pressure! Fighter!

Ay-ay-ay, Daru.

Yes, yes.

(SU’GA EA BY THA FEELSTYLE PLAYING)

(CLUCKING)

Good job.

(PLAYERS GRUNTING)

THOMAS: Come on, Jaiyah, go! Push, push, push, push!

Just want to say, I love you guys.

No matter how different I am. And how different we all are.

(ALL CHEERING)

(GENTLE ELECTRONIC MUSIC PLAYING)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(TRIUMPHANT MUSIC PLAYING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

PRIEST: And so ends our tale of woe.

I guess it just goes to show, no matter what happens to you, when the going gets rough, when the chips are down, when you feel like you can’t carry on, when you feel like there’s no hope or you just can’t do it, anything can happen and a whole lot of miracles when you just have a little bit of faith.

Ah, shit!

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