COMMENT: U.S. soccer gains a fan

Thursday, June 25, 2009 | 9:20 p.m. CDT; updated 1:34 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 26, 2009

I know I will never hear the end of this from most U.S. soccer fans.

But I was initially rooting for Spain during the U.S.-Spain match on Wednesday. I can hear the groans and arguments starting already, but I love the Spanish team. I’m sorry. I think they’re a classy team. They use passing lanes and make smart plays rather than just rush the goal in an attempt to score (This is not a dig at the U.S. team, just so everyone knows).

That being said, I do respect the U.S. team. Before the game, I felt like the team didn't have a unified presence and wasn't able to make a strong showing in international play. The team, however, has developed a lot, and after Wednesday, it definitely has made a name for itself.

Given my conflicting opinions, I couldn’t wait for the game on Wednesday. Until I found out I would be in class, that is. There was no way I could miss this game so I had friends live-tweeting updates of the game and running a Gchat commentary so I could keep up with the major happenings of the game. I also, and I feel I should be responsible and not recommend this to any students, watched part of the game on during my class.

Now trust me, this got very confusing. Communications Law is not a class to be taken lightly. We spend the whole two hour class taking extensive (and when I say extensive, I mean extensive) notes and this entire class I was fielding tweets that would read:


Now what am I supposed to do with that? I'm trying to take notes and not jump out of my seat with excitement and disgust that I'm missing such an amazing game all at the same time!

And then I get this:

One minute left in Stop Time. USA sealing the deal. First loss for Spain in 16 games, first time USA goes to Confederation finals #FIFA.

Seriously? I missed a priceless game from the sound of it. I was just disgusted and invigorated by the end of this class. Getting the updates was a mini adrenaline rush every couple of minutes but I could not believe I had missed actually watching the game. Could not believe it.

While I didn’t get to watch the whole game (much to my chagrin) what I did see changed the way I view my county's team. Tim Howard was shutting down the Spanish offense. I'm going to be honest, I wrote Howard off as an American keeper. It's wrong, I know, but most American soccer players just aren't as well known as the rest of the world's players. And the Spanish offense is known for its skill. So I was pleasantly surprised with the way Howard played. The entire U.S. defense was impressive. 

And I know a lot of the county may not care about this. My dad, the most sports-minded person I know and the man who's responsible for getting me involved in every sport I've ever played, might not have even known one of the most stressful soccer games of my life was happening.

But I care. The U.S., who like I've stated, I didn't overly care about before this, just made a big name for itself.

My opinions about U.S. soccer have certainly changed after Wednesday. I would always watch the U.S. team play and would cheer for it if it weren’t playing against a team I really cared about. But my devotion kind of ended there.

It’s pretty safe to say my attitude has changed, however. I still love the Spanish team, but I have a newfound love for the American team.

I still don't see the U.S. pulling it through to the end. But the fact that it has advanced so far in this tournament, which it's never done before, has earned it a new fan.

And I will definitely be tuning in, and probably screaming at the television — I can be a rather aggressive fan, on Sunday when the U.S. plays Brazil for the top spot.

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