The stadiums are electric, the fans are passionate, and the streets are crowded. No sport other than futbol can create quite a stir. As an individual who does not follow the Spanish Cup or the MLS, World Cup fever is unbelievably addicting and it’s no surprise why footbol is the world’s most beloved sport.
Watching yesterday’s disappointing draw between USA and Portugal was 95 minutes of pure excitement. If only world player of the year Cristano Ronaldo was not injured, it would have added to the drama but his very presence dwarfs even that of the legendary Pele. Every time Ronaldo touched the ball, the crowd’s roar would erupt through the stadium. Bonds never got it when he set the all-time home run record. LeBron sure didn’t get it when he took his talents to South Beach. The Red Sox did not have it when they won their first World Series title after 86 years. But Ronaldo, the brand that ensues with being the world’s most famous footballer with movie-star looks and a supermodel girlfriend (Irina Shayk), garners praise that even Justin Bieber would envy. Ronaldo has practiced only sparingly after dealing with quad tightness but, thankfully, has not sat out any of the World Cup matches. His draw for the tournament is huge fanfare but ineffectiveness is rather disappointing. Hopefully Ronaldo can overcome his injury because fans sure want to see what he is like playing at 100%.
The United States has been the quintessential Cinderella story. The team is without its biggest star, Landon Donovan, left off the World Cup roster by Coach Jurgen Klinsmann yet find themselves in good position to advance to the elimination round. This comes after Klinsmann was quoted as saying the U.S. does not stand a chance to win in the World Cup, the players have rallied around the strange statements to defeat Ghana and nearly get by Portugal. As teams advance in the tournament, recognizable names are at least seen by fans. For the United States, no player is all too well known but the country has made great strides to be competitive in the game.
The first set of matches did not have any ties while including Robin van Persie’s world class flying header. He looked like Thor flying with the hammer on the cross from winger Arjen Robben. van Persie’s strike tied the match against defending champions Spain in a match where the Dutch eventually went on win 5-1.
Throughout the tournament, fans have been ecstatic as sports talk shows and news crews are circling around the U.S. matches. Even Anaheim Angels first baseman, yesterday, was seen grimacing over Portugal’s last second score. This kind of interest in the game of soccer has rarely been there in the United States. It is a welcome surprise as hopefully the people’s momentum can foster the United States’ play in the upcoming match against Germany. We need a win!