For those of you who don’t know, the Packergeeks are huge followers of United States Soccer. How could that be? That’s the “wrong” kind of football…for wimps…etc etc etc. Truth is, I started playing soccer when I was really young and played right through college. I also played some informally in Scotland and Costa Rica – so I had the unique chance to see different styles of the game from different parts of the world. I love the game and I always have. When great teams are playing in rhythm there is just something hypnotic about the flow of a well-played soccer game. As a player, I have so much respect for all the small, often unnoticed technical aspects of the game. For example, every time the ball comes to these guys, their ability to control the ball immediately and then make an instant decision about what to do with the ball is so impressive – and so incredibly difficult – it’s hard to describe to those who don’t play the game. Getting themselves out of tight spaces without giving up the ball when 2-3 defenders are all over them – just amazing. The pinpoint passing of players like Andrea Pirlo from Italy, Messi’s sixth soccer sense on the field, the athleticism of the goalkeepers – extraordinary to watch.
But what I love so much about the World Cup in particular is that it is the one time people in the US can take true national pride in the performance of our team in a sport we’re not supposed to be good at. Sure, there are the Olympics – but we always are up there in medal count and the events/sports are usually, I don’t know, odd. I like the Olympics but this is just different. Soccer is the global sport and we have finally arrived at a level where we can be expected to put up a fight against any team – even Germany.
So do me a favor, even if you’re a soccer hater – tune in to this game today against Germany and if we get a positive result – to subsequent games in the tournament. Try hard to appreciate just how difficult it is to do what these guys are doing – especially in horrendous hot/humid conditions.