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If you've watched a U.S. men's national team soccer match over the last dozen or so years, you surely know the popular refrain coming from the loyal travelers in the stands of every game around the world. Say it with me now, folks.

I. "I."

I believe. "I believe."

I believe that we will win. "I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win."

(Insert record player screeching sound here.)

Wait a minute. No I don't. I don't believe that we will win. And neither do you.

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"Dad, why don't you wear your U.S. soccer shirt to the game this weekend," my seven-year-old soccer-playing daughter asked as I prepared to cover the United States men's national team in a warm-up match for the 2014 World Cup.

"Well, because it's unprofessional," I replied. "You aren't supposed to root for the team you are covering."

"Why not," she answered. "Don't you love America?"

It's hard in our profession to put rooting interests aside, but it's even harder to keep covering a team and rooting for it separate when that team represents America and everything you have grown up wanting U.S. soccer to be.

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When Taylor Twellman heard how many ties Bob Ley was bringing to Brazil, he laughed.

"Bob says 12 ties?" Twellman asked me while packing for Brazil to cover the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

"I’ve got everything from six bottles of bug spray, malaria pills, five suits, probably 25 shirts, 25 ties. I have absolutely no idea what to do."

Beginning with a trip to Jacksonville to call the final tune-up for the U.S. men's national team with fellow broadcaster and world traveler Ian Darke, Twellman will be on the road for 73 consecutive days calling soccer for ESPN.

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This is a simple concept—perhaps too simple given the stakes—but for the U.S. soccer team to have any chance to succeed in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, the best players are going to have play like they are the best players.

It's the age-old logic in sports: If our best are better than your best, we're probably going to beat you.

Yes, tactics matter. Yes, the entire starting XI is important and the three players each manager chooses to substitute on will undoubtedly have a consistent impact on the results of many matches in Brazil.

Yes, everything matters at the World Cup. The length of a blade of grass could change the way a ball moves on a shot that may send shock waves around the world. That's what makes the event so amazing, and that's what makes the stars even more important.

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Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser are two of the most important cogs in the vast ESPN machine. If it weren't for the success of Pardon the Interruption—ESPN's signature debate show that has truly been responsible for a shift in the way sports are covered on television—a lot of us wouldn't be doing what we are doing.

I, personally, may not be where I am were it not for the help and direction from Kornheiser and Wilbon. So I say this with all due respect and decorum.

Wilbon needs to get the hell out of here. If he was serious with his ridiculously jingoistic rant about Jurgen Klinsmann on PTI on Thursday, Wilbon needs to get out of here with that nonsense:

The full quote (via 101 Great Goals) can be heard at the 10-minute mark of yesterday's show.

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California Chrome is the latest in a storied line of thoroughbreds to enter the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the Triple Crown. There have been 33 horses before Chrome to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and less than a dozen have succeeded in taking the third leg, making the Triple Crown one of the most elusive titles in all of American sports.

California Chrome is about to ruin all of that, by finally winning it.

It was June 10, 1978, the last time a horse won the three most prestigious summer races on American soil, completing the American Triple Crown. I was 119 days old when Affirmed became just the 11th horse in history to win all three races, following Seattle Slew, who had won the year before, and Secretariat—widely recognized as the greatest thoroughbred in racing history—just four years prior to that.

No horse has won the Triple Crown since. Eleven times since 1978 a horse has raced in the Belmont Stakes with a chance to join an elite class of horses. Eleven times since 1978 that horse has failed.

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Go to any shoe store or apparel website this summer, and you will almost literally be kicked in the head with options for World Cup-inspired footwear. 

By my count, the big three international football manufacturers—Adidas, Nike and Puma—are offering more than 150 combined options for soccer cleats, flats and other footy footwear this summer.

As soon as you pick out your favorite pair of shoes from the Samba Pack or the Magista Collection, out come 15 more with "battle designs" or "snake venom" used as sewing thread or whatever crazy gimmick the companies can employ to get us to pay attention, buy more stuff and outclass our friends on the pitch.

It's no longer just Adidas and Nike either. Puma is going so rogue this summer that it is giving all its athletes two different-color shoes—one pink and one blue—to get people like me to pay more attention to those wearing Pumas. (Job well done, public relations cats.)

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The Sunday Times of London blew the lid off the worst-kept secret in the world. The 2022 World Cup was not just possibly bought by Qatar, it was absolutely, positively, unequivocally, how-did-they-get-away-with-it-for-this-long(ingly) bought by Qatar.

Mohamed bin Hammam, once a high-ranking member of FIFA's executive cabal before being excommunicated from power after daring to run against Sepp Blatter for the role of FIFA president, has been implicated—again—for lobbying on behalf of Qatar in advance of the 2010 vote that awarded the 2022 World Cup to the tiny desert nation over the United States of America.

It's time for FIFA to correct this mistake, right this amazingly transparent wrong and take the World Cup back from Qatar. Who should get it? The United States, of course.

The Times report from Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake claims to have obtained "millions of secret documents" that implicate Bin Hammam's role in buying votes for Qatar to win the World Cup bid.

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HARRISON, N.J. — "Experience is a big thing," Tim Howard said into a smattering of reporters hoping for quotation gold after the United States defeated Turkey 2-1 in the second of three friendlies before heading to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.

"Experience also has baggage. So we don't have that baggage."

It's easy to take that quote—absolute gold, by the way—and make it about Landon Donovan. But maybe, just maybe, Howard's words were more about Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson and Jay DeMerit and the old way the U.S. national team played defense in front of him.

There is very little experience in front of Howard now, with Geoff Cameron, a converted center-back who has more caps at midfield or right-back than in the center of the defense during his international career, taking a leadership role on the back line.

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If creating a World Cup roster is akin to building a car, the 32 teams heading to Brazil should be in the fine-tuning stages at this point. A little more speed here. A tad more force there. With just over two weeks before the World Cup officially kicks off, teams should be worrying about the little things.

For Jurgen Klinsmann and his U.S. Soccer 23-man squad, the little things will have to wait.

After Klinsmann's squad defeated Azerbaijan 2-0 in the first of three send-off matches before leaving for Brazil, parts are all over the garage and big things are still being decided. Do we need a new front end? Does anyone really know if the back line will hold up under pressure, or will it fall apart in the intense heat?

Following Tuesday's match, Klinsmann said, via Franco Panizo of Soccer by Ives: