About 3pm yesterday, I was sitting in my room watching the Confederations Cup final between our beloved (yeah right) United States soccer team go up against the equivalent of the Yankees, USC, or The Dream Team of soccer in Brazil, I witnessed Texas-bred midfielder Clint (Deuce) Dempsey put in the first goal of the game my blackberry went into spaz mode.
"Dempsey is the man!!!"
"Can we really win this game?"
*RING RING RING*
"Yes, this is Andy with your Platinum Visa Credit Card..."
Anyway, the point is that I was getting text messages from folks that I had no idea even knew what soccer was, much less were that passionate about it. I am a HUGE soccer fan. I'm a GOONER, or for the common folk, a fan of Arsenal who are also known as the Gunners. I'm a big time fan of Thierry Henry (the other black dude in the Gillette commercial with Tiger and Federer) and of the Netherlands international squad. I've been known to fall asleep to soccer matches too. (Don't ask weird, it sounded weird even when I wrote it) Generally, I have about 2-3 friends that are big fans of soccer like me, now I had about 15-20 folks hitting me up about the game was almost overwhelming.
This is a good thing.
I'm going to tell you something, if you are not watching soccer then you are missing out. I've said this a million times, sports is the greatest reality show you could ever watch. If you want to see drama, comedy (ask Kenny how he feels when he sees a Brazilian player flop), action, and intensity...watch a soccer match between two teams with something on the line. There's nothing like it, and every goal matters SO much, its a pleasure (and pain) to enjoy.
Let's put what we watched last night into perspective. The US finishing 2nd in the Confederations Cup is the equivalent of a team like Cornell, SMU, Oral Roberts, or Pepperdine playing in the Preseason NIT against Duke, UNC, UCLA, UConn, and Kentucky. The Preseason NIT is a big deal, because you know some of the best teams in the nation are going to gear up and test themselves early and see how well they stack up against other great teams. Usually there are a couple of scrappy, feeder teams for the good teams to warm up on. What happened on Sunday was Bowling Green getting to the Preseason NIT final and losing to North Carolina after being up 15 at the half, and losing by 3 at the end.
US Soccer is on the map, now the casual fan will be paying attention. "But Ed, who should I be looking for?" Good question my loyal reader, let me help you out.
This team is about as scrappy as they come. You know how some folks love a scrappy, hard-nosed team. Well this team fits the bill. I'll help compare some of these folks to other athletes you might know.
#10, Landon Donovan - The leader of this squad. He's got the attitude of J.J. Redick back at Duke, cocky as hell and very very good. He's been known to urinate on Mexico's field aka take a "Dallas Knee". (Get on one knee and whiz, making a shield for no one to see you) For this team however, he is a faciliator first, scorer second. Steve Nash might be too lofty of a comparison, but his role is similar.
#17, Jozy Altidore - Think about how Amare Stoudemire was when he first came into the league; raw, strong, and instinctive. That's Jozy for you, one of the first attacking players the US has had who could probably go out and play wideout for a D-1 program. He's only 19, and he's currently playing overseas in Spain, but marketers are banking him becoming a star. He's got a long ways to go, but he's the truth and is only gonna get better.
#8, Clint Dempsey - Deuce! Probably my favorite player on this team, dude fits the description of "mercurial" and is probably one of the most skilled players on the team. Dude raps, breakdances, after he scores goals, and talks a lot of sh*t. He plays like a... brotha. How about that? LOL...Dempsey plays in the English Premier League (the best league in the world) and plays for the equivalent of the Grizzlies in the EPL (Fulham). He even did a video with Big Hawk representing that Texas mayne. DON'T TREAD!
#5, Oguchi Onyewu - Gooch, as he's more informally known, is probably the only dude on the team who could play D-Line for a D-1 program. Dude is 6'5", 230 lbs., and his mean as hell. You gotta understand, 6'5" in soccer is like 7'1" in basketball. Dude elbows folks in the ribs for fun but is a great athlete. As the United States' best defender, he generally defends the other teams best strikers. Think of Sean Taylor (RIP) hawking the middle of the secondary and cracking cats coming over the middle.
#1, Tim Howard - The Goalie, the one position where we are 2nd to none on the pitch (soccer field). Howard is one of the best goalies in the world, period.
This team is diverse, funny, and charismatic. Don't do anything drastic, but just read up on some of these guys. YouTube 'em. Know who they are, or as Ken would say, invest yourself. (I've made Kenny a soccer fan, ask him about it.) And when August 12th rolls around and they have to play their arch rival in Mexico...in Mexico City in La Azteca (think of Ohio State's horseshoe) which will not be an easy place to play. I challenge you, have a watch party. Enjoy watching something new and different, it could be fun.
DID YOU WATCH THE UNITED STATES VS. BRAZIL? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT ALL? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!