Posts Tagged With: American Outlaws

The Place to Be?

It is always a good bet to be in the host country for a great party. However, I have always wondered how cool it would be to be in some small, underdog country when their boys spring a big upset.

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How awesome would it have been to have been in Cameroon back in 1990 when they beat Argentina and then Colombia? I’ll wager that that would have been an unforgettable night. Or how about watching Senegal stun France in 2002 from some small yet crowded cafe in Dakar? For me, these are the places to be.

It is amazing what sport can do to a nation and it’s people and the World Cup is the biggest, best, and most important of all sporting events. Though it began with Senegal, the place to be in 2002 was in that host nation of South Korea. I am still in awe over the passion with which they celebrated victories over first Poland, then Portugal to advance (I was in the city of Dejean and still cannot comprehend their strength, stamina, and vocal fortitude–they simply went nuts ALL NIGHT). Next it was Italy who the Red Devils sent home. I was in Seoul and witnessed a parade of, I’ll put the number at 200,000, identically dressed (Red “Be the Reds” t-shirts) Koreans as they sang, shot bottle rockets, and marched by for hours. The scene was repeated a few days later when they beat Spain. Those times in South Korea still give me chills and I was grateful to have been in “the place to be.”

So I wonder, where will that place be this year. Certainly, as witnessed last night, anywhere in Brazil will be amazing after each victory and should they win it all, the party will certainly be off the hook. But I am thinking about the small country, the one who should be happy just to be here, the one that will shock someone. Will Chile have a night to remember by beating Spain or Holland? Will the streets of Teheran be full of unbridled joy? Can Cameroon once again thrill their countrymen? Perhaps it will be Honduras, it would be a fun night even in murder capital of the world, San Pedro Sula, should they win a match.

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For as great as the World Cup is, maybe the best thing is does is to bring people together. They may be strangers of various nationalities drinking and dancing on the streets of the host nation. Or they may be fellow countrymen deliriously celebrating an unthinkable feat performed by their boys, in front of the world. What a place to be.

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Some Sunday Stuff

I basically have 2 days left and seemingly a lot to do.  I guess you never feel fully ready for a trip of over three weeks until you are on the plane. In addition to many errands to run, my mind has been spinning with World Cup thoughts.  I’ll share a few now.

  • I loved our line-up yesterday.  Michael Bradley is so good–using Kyle Beckerman beside Jermaine Jones allows him to focus on attacking without worrying about having to get back on defense, which he seems to do anyway.  I see this as sort of a swap of Beckerman at the expense of Graham Zusi, while pushing Bradley forward.  I just can’t help but to think how great it would be if it was not Alejandra Bedoya but Landon Donovan.
  • I hate that the only beer available in World Cup stadiums is Budweiser.  I’m a beer snob–it has been almost four years since I have had a “bad” beer, Bud, Coors, Miller. . .  Do I break the streak in order to have a drink at the matches or go dry?
  • This is the first World Cup I can ever remember where the goalkeepers have not come out against the ball.  Every other Cup it seems the ball is engineered to swerve and dip at a unnatural rate.  This year, not a peep.  Oh, and I have held the ball.  Before the Japan vs Zambia match Friday night, a wayward shot during warmups found it’s way into my hands.  The Brazuca is good looking but it is not smooth, rather it has tiny dimples all over it.  It seems it will have great grip for the GK.

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  • The American Outlaws and US Soccer are hosting night before and pre-game parties in Brazil.  To attend, you must RSVP.  Both events in Manaus, for the Portugal match, are wait-listed.
  • I am nearly certain we will beat Ghana.
  • On Friday I received my copy of the new book Passionate Soccer Love which was written by a great friend of mine, Tanya Keith.  I met Tanya and her husband Doug in Suwon South Korea the day of the Portugal match–she was like five months pregnant at the time–that’s dedication!  So far I have only ready about 40 pages, but it is a fun telling of her first falling for the beautiful game as she became a referee only to be closer to her new boyfriend (Doug) and then chronicling her fall into Ultra fandom.  Stories are lively and fun.  If you’ve never traveled abroad to follow the US, you will gain a new appreciation for what we fans go through.  If you are a traveling supporter like Tanya and myself, you will recognize her experiences–and you may even read about yourself!  Oh, Tanya often brings the baby-ass flag to matches–see it drying out in my backyard below.

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  • I am glad I am not a big fan of Japan, nothing against them really but I have attended their last two matches and every corner kick they have had they have played short.  I hate short corners.  They also take all but the closest of free kicks quickly–they are playing very fast, which is cool.  But their corners would make me nuts.
  • I guess I should start taking malaria pills.

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It’s Getting. . . Closer

In less than a week, the world’s most important sporting event will be underway.  Here in Tampa, things, some little and some big, are happening to get me in the mood.  Actually I should say to push my excitement level to 11.

First, a few things I’ve seen around town:

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Speaking of Julian Green, when I went to our local American Outlaw bar, MacDinton’s to watch the US play Turkey last weekend, I was happy to see his father there!  It was pretty cool watching his father watching the piece ESPN did on his son.

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A few nights later, I saw two World Cup bound sides face off here in Tampa as Japan took on the Ticos from Costa Rica.  Though the crowd was not large, just over 7,000, the atmosphere was very good.  Probably half the crowd were Ticos while the Japanese filled a couple sections.  Me, I found a place to stand right behind the goal.

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Though Costa Rica scored first, Japan looked very good and won 3-1.  Big bonus, all 4 goals were scored right in front of me!  Japan is based here and will play Zambia Friday night–I’m taking my son Max (who when he was only four months old, I handed to Freddy Adu, who was slapping fan’s hands after we had beaten Cuba in a qualifier) he is now almost six years old, yes, his birthday takes place while I’m in Brazil.  One day, maybe when he’s in his 40’s, he’ll forgive me.  Or maybe forgiveness will come when I take him to Qatar (England? Australia? Nowhere but here?!) in 2022.

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I enjoyed the Manchester United on Liverpool violence yesterday in the England vs Colombia match, but it got me wondering how other players felt.  For example, what did Wayne Rooney think about his United teammate trying to choke his England mate who is also a player for Liverpool, whom I assume he despises?  A step further, what if Spain were playing Argentina and Sergio Ramos drills Lionel Messi.  What do Xavi, Andres Inesta and the other Barcelona players think?  Or, in that same match, if Javier Mascherano takes out Iker Casilles?  The only thing even similar I can think of was in 2006 when Cristiano Ronaldo got his then Manchester United teammate, Wayne Rooney, red carded in the quarter-finals.  Although Ronaldo was caught on camera winking to his bench, Rooney harbored no ill will when they returned to Old Trafford later that summer.  This is just another aspect that makes the World Cup so awesome–hated rivals playing together for country.  And some players are not able to do so.  For years Spain had trouble integrating Barcelona and Real Madrid players.  Holland and Scotland have histories of struggling to have all 11 pulling the same way.

Oh, at the match the other night, there were no incidents between Man United’ Shinji Kagawa and Arsenal’s Joel Campbell.

For the last two weeks now I have been pretty pessimistic about the US’ chances to advance, but now I’m only excited.  I’ve got that feeling like anything can happen.  I really think we will beat Ghana, there is just no way we will lose three in a row to them.  Then comes the important Portugal match.  Cristiano Ronaldo having a little injury makes me think on 2002 when then World Player of the Year Luis Figo also had a little fitness issue.  It was nothing that kept him from playing, but his lack of training and not being 100% was just the opening we needed to beat them and advance.

The amount of media leading up to this Cup is simply amazing.  Levels were nowhere near this when we hosted in 1994 much less for any other Cup.  If you still think soccer is second rate here, think again.  And it’s just going to keep growing, irregardless of how the US does over the next few week, the demographics are just so young.  And the American Outlaw’s are growing like crazy.  I mean even my hometown of Roanoke Virginia has a chapter and the next person to join will be their 100th member!

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