Joining in with the World

I have never really watched soccer, let alone actually play the game.  Thus, one can definitely call me a bandwagon follower to Team USA.  I don’t have any shame in stating this!  If I were to say I actually liked my hometown NBA team, that’s a whole other story…

The 2010 FIFA World Cup has been an exciting tournament to draw me in.  When looking at the tournament bracket, what I would normally think as soccer all-star nations were there:  Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Korea, Japan.  But USA?  Even I knew USA doesn’t compare on the world stage.  As I began to hear about how the teams actually stacked up upon one another, I started to realize this could be USA’s break.  Highly touted England…fizzling out.  Team dynamics leading to larger fallouts with France.  Even Italy choking in its battles.

Team USA loves drama.  To be scored upon early in all their games, USA loves to play the underdog.  USA has a fighting spirit and it showed!  In Group play, USA eventually pulled out a draw with England.  Even being robbed of the win from Slovenia, a draw was in the books.  The win against Algeria came in the final minutes.  Team USA just likes to work that much harder.

It was deja vu when Ghana scored early, and then USA answering back in the 2nd half.  Sadly, this underdog mentality didn’t pull a win against Ghana.  I couldn’t believe my own disappointment when the final whistle blew and Team USA had their heads hanging low.  My head was hanging low in solidarity with them.  They played valiantly and against many obstacles. (Disallowed goals in two different matches!!)

There’s a respect for the sport I never knew.  It’s simply amazing the level of athleticism soccer players have.  Not only does peak cardio condition have to be there (running/sprinting for 90 minutes, equating to probably 7-8 miles, no time outs!), but finesse is so clutch!  What eye-foot coordination!  How can you kick a ball with so much control, yet have so much power?  AMAZING!  And since I am such a noobie to the sport, I can only imagine the level of complexity when it comes to strategy and making plays happen.  Let me just say, a fanboy is born.

Another point about why soccer is awesome: it’s the world’s game.  And Americans must join in with the rest of the world!  All across the world, people play soccer.  I can somewhat equate soccer’s ubiquity to basketball’s here in the US.  It’s simple and doesn’t require much equipment (people, a goal/hoop and a ball).  Anyone can play.  Team USA’s continued participation in soccer in international tournaments and in the World Cup is simply great to keep the USA at the table as a member of the rest of the world.

Team USA’s performance in this year’s World Cup has turned some heads.  Soccer continues to build more steam, and we could be at the cusp of a change in the attitudes Americans’ have of the sport.  Instead of thinking this game is just for kids with mini-van and moms, soccer can too have the respect Basketball and Football have in our country as it does in many others across the world.  As fans, we too are joining in with the world with so many other people who love this game that brings people together.

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