Culbreath: World CupWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The World Cup is once again under way. The world comes to a screeching halt for an entire month to watch 64 games to decide who has the best soccer team, period. Will the host country of Brazil blow through the competition to win one? Will Portugal artfully score their way to glory? Could Germany grind their opponents into dust on the way to the Cup?
Or do you really care?
Normally when it comes to soccer, Americans couldn’t care less. While the sport is growing in this country (thanks to 24-hour sports stations), it’s still a distant ways out from televised competition. Poker might still outdraw the Major League Soccer, and that bubble burst years ago.
(Please note, that while I don’t watch a lot of it, I don’t out-and-out hate it like most “sports guys” do. I don’t know where the anger comes from.)
But when it’s World Cup time, we at least tend to keep an eye on it. After all, there’s a bit of national pride on the line. Oh, don’t you lie, you watched. You said you didn’t, but the tape doesn’t lie: Landon Donovan’s game winner against Algeria in 2010 was a highlight of the year, and the viral video of Americans reacting across the country has 4 million views on YouTube. Face it: We’ll never pass up the chance to chant “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”
So how good are the Americans this year? Do they stand a chance? Nope.
And that’s not me being overly pessimistic. That’s the coach talking! Jurgen Klinsmann, speaking at a pre-tournament press conference, told media that while they don’t see themselves as underdogs, winning it all is “just not realistic.”
If you didn’t draw it from the guy’s name, Klinsmann isn’t from around here. He is, in fact, from Germany — and he knows what he’s talking about. He was on the World Cup-winning West German team in 1990. So that level of straight-talking can be expected. Still, I think the coach from the Netflix ad did a better job of firing up his team than Klinsmann just did.
He’s not wrong, honestly. The American’s are in a rebuilding year (or, more appropriately, four years). Donovan isn’t even on the team this year — Landycakes has suffered a mess of injuries in the lead up — and Klinsmann’s eye is on getting the youth of the team up to speed. It’s hard to get them on the pitch when you’re holding spots for vets.
So, knowing that the man who made America cheer last year isn’t in it, and that the coach isn’t expecting the crown, do you watch? I still do. Much like I pour over the Olympics (both Winter and Summer), there’s something to be said for taking in an event that only happens once every four years. These are the best athletes in the world at their sport doing what they do. And hey, this time it’ll be at decent hours of the day! I will be tuned in at 6 p.m. June 16 to watch the Americans open up against those dastardly Ghanaians that knocked us out last year. I might not be expecting much, but I might keep my phone’s camera handy, just in case spontaneous chants break out.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director for Newsradio 1370-WSPD.