This is not your ordinary World Cup soccer preview.
In fact, if you’re looking for in-depth analysis on Saturday’s match between the United States and England, close the browser and start over. You wont find anything in-depth here.
However, if you’re a regular sports fan who doesn’t watch soccer but enjoys world sporting events such as: Olympic hockey, curling or The World’s Strongest Man Competition, you’ve clicked on the right link. Read on.
If you’re continuing to read, lets assume you’re a sports enthusiast who enjoys competition played at the highest level.
So, when the World Cup comes along, which happens every four years (hopefully, you knew that), you’d like to back your country by watching, at least, the first game with a couple buddies-really, what's better than telling a couple “soccer is boring” jokes for straight two hours. They only get better as the beers disappear.
Now, you’ve probably dabbled with an international soccer game here-and-there. You might even remember the United States’ run in the 2009 Confederations Cup which included: a semi-final victory, 2-0, over World No. 1, Spain, and a heart-breaking, 3-2, loss to Brazil in the finals (the U.S. led 2-0 at halftime).
If you do, then you probably are aware that the boys wearing the red, white and blue have a decent squad that could win a game or two.
This is exciting because America hates rooting for a loser. Seriously, since The Revolution, we’re like 7-0 in wars (we don’t count Vietnam because that was an occupation). If the activity isn’t soccer, we don’t lose!
A brief US Soccer History recap: America’s highest-finish in the World Cup is third place, which came in 1930. Supposedly, America's World Cup high point came in 1950 when the United States beat, World No. 1, England, 1-0, in a first-round match. After 1950, America went 40 years without making a World Cup.
Before you become amped on the start of the World Cup, take a second and write down some things, you think, you know about Saturday’s match.
In five minutes, I came up with this list:
No. 1: Brazilian referees are learning English swear words because they would like to keep swearing to a minimum during the match.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I learned this from ESPN two minutes before I started this article.
No. 2: The United States star players are: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jose Theodore and a goalie whose name I cannot recall.
No. 3: England’s star players are: Wayne Rooney and David Beckham. However, Beckham is not playing because he is injured.
However, trying to be the best sports journalist, blogger, whatever you want to call me, I did want to fact check my knowledge.
So, I gave myself 10 minutes to come up with facts about Saturday’s match. Here is what I discovered.
Fact No. 1: Donovan was born in Ontario, California. I did not know there was an Ontario, California. My first thought when I saw, “Ontario, United States” listed as Donavan’s hometown was, “Hell! He’s not even American!” Fact check: 0-for-1.
Fact No. 2: The United States’ leading goal scorer in World Cup qualifying was Jozy Altidore. This is not Jose Theodore, the Washington Capitals’ goaltender, who, originally, I wrote down as a star player. Fact check: 0-for-2.
Fact No. 3: Tim Howard is America’s starting goalkeeper. Howard, who, pretty much, single handily carried the U.S. to the 2009 Confederation Cup finals, likes basketball. Fact check: 0-for-3.
Fact No. 4: The United States head coach is Bob Bradley. According to ESPN scouting reports, Bradley is a good motivator but bad at making in-game adjustments. Fact check: 0-for-5
(First, I did not know our head coach’s name. Second, and this cannot bode well for the United States; he’s not a good in-game adjuster? Isn’t that the No. 1 thing a coach should be good at in soccer?)
Fact No. 5: Wayne Rooney is on England’s team. Fact check: 1-for-6
Fact No. 6: David Beckham is not playing because of an Achilles tendon injury. Fact check: 2-for-7
Fact No. 7: England (FIFA ranked No. 8), Algeria (30) and Slovenia (25) are in the United States (14) round-one group. Fact check: 3-for-8
(I knew at least England. I get credit for that).
Fact No. 8: The United States’ first-round group-name is Group C. Fact check: 3-for-9
If it was not apparent in the beginning of this article, it is now. I know very little about the upcoming World Cup.
But that’s not the moral of today’s article.
The moral is: it does not matter how much a person knows or does not know about international soccer.
At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, most of American sports fans will turn on ABC and root for our boys as if we have been following the team for years.
That’s what matters.
Starting on Saturday for the USA’s first match and through the upcoming month, all sports enthusiasts needs to know is how to shout the chant, “U.S.A, U.S.A.!”
At least, I know that.