In the weeks leading up to the biggest match of the new decade, there’ll be plenty of psychological mind games played out in the press between the players and coaching staff of both England and the United States. But those mind games will be nothing compared to some of the warfare played out in the minds of soccer fans in the United States.
For a country which has been served a diet of English soccer on US television for 20 years or more, many of us have a better knowledge about the English game than we do for our own country, the United States. This includes not only the top flight league soccer where many of us know far more about the Premier League than Major League Soccer, but for some of us that also includes a better knowledge of the England national team than the men who play in red, white and blue for the United States.
The mind games that will play out for us between now and June 12, 2010, will be who will we want to win, the United States or England?
Think I’m crazy? I’m sure the majority of you will know exactly which team you’ll support. But the question is more complicated for Americans who are anglophiles. And for the millions of ex-pats who now call America their home.
For me, it’s a incredibly tough decision. I’m Welsh, but all of my relatives on my father’s side of the family are English. So since moving to the United States in 1984, I’ve always supported the British contingent of countries who played during the World Cup. Wales have never qualified in my lifetime, so I would always support Scotland and England (1986 and 1990 World Cup), England (1990, 1998, 2002 and 2006) and Northern Ireland (1986 and 1990). And in 1994, since there were no British teams competing, I supported the Republic Of Ireland.
At the same time, I’ve always supported the United States since I moved here in 1984 and especially during the 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cup.
But until this time, I’ve never been forced to choose between two countries. By June 12, I’ll have to support one or the other. Or maybe not, since that no matter which team wins, I’ll be happy.
My story is not unlike millions of other Americans who live in the United States who will be forced to side with one team or another. Complicating the matter are the Americans that are anglophiles who feel more of an affinity toward England than their home country, the United States.
It’s not only a mind game based on where you were born and where you live. It’s also a matter of taste, soccer-wise that is. Deep down, I want the United States to beat England so we can put soccer on the map not only in this country but around the world. But many soccer fans in the United States have been turned off by repeated failures and lack of imagination on the field thanks to coaches such as Steve Sampson and Bob Bradley.
Being a supporter of the United States men’s national team is an experience that features many highs and many lows. From game to game, it’s hard to predict which United States team will show up. The one that looks like world beaters, or the one that only manages a narrow win against countries such as Cuba and Haiti.
So when June 12, 2010 rolls around and you’re standing there with a beer in hand and your heart is pounding a mile a minute, which country will you be supporting and why? Click the comments link below and share your opinion.