I did not grow up watching or playing soccer. I have tried to get into soccer before since many of my closest friends are fanatics. I normally find it quite boring. I would watch intently for 20 minutes and nothing would happen: no shots, no goals, no cards. At some point, someone would call my name from the kitchen and as soon as I turned my head the one and only goal of the match would be scored. It was maddening.
Still, I felt compelled to join the spirit of the World Cup and try once again to be a fan. After all, I was in Europe where entire countries stop working to watch their teams play. I saw my first live match when I went to Rotterdam to watch a preliminary match between Holland and Ghana. I’m not sure whether it was watching it live or the intense roar of the crowd, but I was mesmerized. I could not take my eyes off of the field.
A couple of weeks later, I watched my first world cup match in a bar when Mexico played France. I loved the interplay between the different fans. “Mex-i-co!” and “Allez-le-bleu!” rang out back and forth through the bar like a never-ending echo. I did not discover, however, that I was a real fan until I snuck out of work early to catch the second half of the final USA match against Algeria. I had given up all hope when Landon Donovan scored a injury-time winner to put the USA into the Round of 16. I found myself screaming in excitement alone in my room.
As I sat screaming in excitement, I wondered why the sport had never picked up popularity in the states. Throughout the world it is a source of national pride, yet who has more pride than us red-blooded Americans? I think we need to get our act together, raise a generation of soccer studs, and put out the next dream team.