Soccer fans, time to party —- Go USA!
By G.D. Morrill
Time for the worldwide party called the World Cup. Every four years the world holds a soccer (or futbol) party in a different part of the world. Four years ago, it was South Africa. This year it’s Brazil. Brazilian soccer is not only popular in Brazil. Where ever the WC is played, everyone looks forward to the Brazilian team, which has won the WC a record 5 times! They look forward to the thousands of Brazilians who accompany their team because they all have PhD’s in PARTY!
So, in June, of 2014, the world gets together in Brazil for the WC. Everybody has been looking forward to this. Even though Brazil’s national team has been down for a while now, they seem to be getting back to the “Jogo bonito” or beautiful game, which is defined by beautiful individual skill and a fun brand of team soccer.
The USA has been a late addition to this party. Until the 1990’s we were “terrible” when it came to soccer. Since then, we have gotten better and better. If we need something to gauge our advancement from terrible to OK, to maybe not so bad, all we need to is compare ourselves to our neighbor to the south, Mexico.
Mexico has a history of extraordinary domination over the USA. Until this year, we had never beaten then at the “Azteca”, the huge home field stadium in Mexico City. This year, on our way to qualifying in the CONCACUF, our regional conference, which includes USA, Canada, Mexico, and all of Central America and the Caribbean.
We beat Mexico in the Azteca and then in Columbus, Ohio. In fact we dominated our conference and ended up in first place. The fact that our conference is comprised of a bunch of little banana republics and Caribbean islands occupied by about as many people as Chula Vista, makes no difference. Along the way, we also beat Italy in Italy and Germany in Germany. We tied other European teams, playing “friendly” matches (games which don’t count for qualifying for the WC).
Today, they held the WC lottery, where groups A through H were set. Eight groups with four teams in each group. Each team plays the other three teams in their group and the top two teams advancing on the basis of wins and ties, gets through to the round of sixteen. This is the first and most important business at hand.
Unfortunately, the USA landed in group G, in what is referred to in soccer jargon as a “group of death”. In our Group is three time champion Germany, Portugal, with arguably the best player presently in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Our other team is Ghana, which has knocked us out of the WC the last two times we’ve gone. Hence, the group of death.
Our first game, as determined by the draw today will be against Ghana in Natal. I just happen to have some very good friends there and plan to go, unless the birth of my first grandchild prevents it. Natal, as my friends tell me is “eternal summer” and lies by the ocean. If you know the Brazilian cuisine (fesuada, caipirinhas), you might guess that with that weather, the warm water, the music, dancing, and you would be correct if you guessed that there’s going to be a massive party in June.
Add to that that Mexico will also play a game there, and one begins to get goose bumps just thinking of the excitement and fun awaiting any visitor to Natal.
Well, this is my first time writing for the Clairemont Times. Hope to do it many more times.