Ah, The World Cup. It's like the Olympics with a singular sport :) It's every four years. And it's those every four years that remind me that I do, in fact, enjoy soccer (or rather, futbol). I grew up in the valley....I've been surrounded by it my whole life. A good number of my Saturdays were spent at the soccer fields at CSUS (before that area became the dorms and a pond) cheering on my friends. It was practically required to play at recess and any other P.E. break at Julien Elementary. And it was fun. Some days were more fun than others but I really did like it. And my most vivid memory of playing soccer was in 5th or 6th grade (so...maybe not that vivid, but still) was when a girl named Nessa got her arm broken during P.E. playing soccer. And how happy I was that it wasn't me. But still....it was impressive, and a well kicked ball.
What else makes me like this sport? I admire the crap outta those that play. Have you tried sprinting around for an hour and a half recently? Yeah...I definitely don't make it as long as I did once upon a time. And goalies are straight up badass crazy....in the best way possible. Love them! Much like I love and appreciate catchers. Catchers are just insane. "sure, I'll squat for a couple hours. Wanna throw a ball 90 mph at me too? Ok, sure. Oh, what's that? You want to come racing at me full speed and tackle me while I hold on to a baseball? Yup, bring it on. Cameras showing close up shots of my crotch while I flash some signs? Why not. Hit in the noggin and other various body parts with foul tips and what not? Yup. I'm game." But goalies are flying all over the place....wearing much less protection than a catcher. "You wanna kick a ball at me full speed while I try to read your mind and cover a 8' x 24' area with my best ninja/jedi-like abilities? Okie dokie"
Why else? I'm a girl. Girls like athletes. My top 3 athletes: 1> h2o polo players/swimmers (best overall body and tan) 2> soccer players (have you seen their legs?! glorious to gaze at) 3> baseball players (arms. forearms. catchers' legs. arms.)
But why do I neglect to remember my appreciation and enjoyment of soccer those 3 years between world cups? Call it my Olympic theory. Every 4 years I'm suddenly an expert in things like synchronized diving (the greatest Olympic event ever, in my opinion) and ice dancing (which is different than figure skating....but don't ask me why for another 4 years). Why? Because I need to be in the know....and I need to cheer on MY country. That's the difference. Only during the World Cup does the USA come together and care about soccer. Because we are competitive. Because we love our country. Because tying England felt pretty much like winning. And because you get miraculous moments like those brought to us by Landon Donovan. That is now my most vivid World Cup memory. My previous one? Sitting at a cafe in downtown Lakeland FL and watching the Zidane headbutt incident. But who cares about that now. I've got a genuine American Miracle Moment to care about. It's those things that bring people together....make people care about soccer....and feel good to be American. Because, even if we feel like we are a powerhouse in the world, we still secretly want to be the underdog because it's only when you're the underdog that you get moments like Landon Donovan scoring in stoppage time after being denied a legit goal (AGAIN!) from refs who for some reason hate America.
America may be out of the World Cup now....but I'm still caring about the World Cup. Maybe I'll attempt to hit up a San Jose Earthquakes game someday....but no matter what, in four years, I'll be straight up obsessed with soccer again. USA.