It is the opening day of the World Cup and I am pumped. I actually had a hard time getting back to sleep after waking up early this morning, for fear I might sleep through a portion of the opener.
I have always been a fan of soccer and the World Cup. I played for seven years, so I have an appreciation for the sport. World Cup has always been fun to watch, and spending a few weeks in Europe during the 1994 World Cup gave me an even greater apperception for it.
I have some very good World Cup memories, especially from 1994. I had the chance to sit and watch Cup games in Italy and Greece with people who are truly passionate about the sport. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, or have seen since.
It seems as though this year I am even more excited than I have been in the past. The main reason might be because I have really stepped up my viewing in the past two years. I have begun closely following the English Premier League, as well as keeping tabs on the other leagues around the world through Champions League. I certainly know who more players are this time around than I have ever before and I think that adds a little something to it.
Also, I think there is just a greater expectation for the US team this time around. After the success they had last summer in the Confederations Cup, people are expecting a deep run at the Cup. I am not in the camp that sees us making a final, but a trip to the quarters is possible.
The other factor that has interest so high is the opening round match against England. To a lot people in the United States, England is soccer. Just like the win over Mexico eight years ago, this is a measuring stick match. The win over Spain last year was nice, but this is England, this is Wayne Rooney, this is the World Cup.
If Mexico was looked at as our big brother, then England would be our dad. That moment you finally beat your dad in anything is always a special landmark. I think that is the thinking here, we have not arrived until we beat England.
While I don’t think this is the year for the US, I think this campaign is a huge step. With the youth on this year’s team, I think they are setting up for 2014 in Brazil. However, those plans can be derailed if the US has a poor showing over the next month. I think we took a big step back after the 2006 Cup, and we are really just starting to recover from that.
England is immensely talented and should e able to handle the US, but we saw last year against Spain, the American are capable of pulling off a shocker. As much as I would love to knock off England, I don’t think this team is capable of a magical run. If we have just one huge shocker in us, I would rather it come in the knockout round.
A draw would be something special and a big-time result. While I would love 2-2, I think we probably fall 2-1. But, don’t be surprised if we regroup and knock off Germany in the round of 16.
As for the rest of the Tournament, I think it will be fun if the African countries do well, I will be pulling for Netherlands and I think Spain wins it in the end.