Should I Support England or the United States?

Jun. 09, 2010 - Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa - Matt Simpson of Denver, Colorado, cheers at the 'United We Shall Stand' rally for the South African national soccer team, Bafana Bafana. South Africa is hosting the FIFA World Cup, which begins June 11.

With the World Cup literally hours away from kicking off in South Africa, there are so many thoughts running through my head that I thought I’d share many of them with you. And one is of major importance to me. Should I support the USA or England?

I agree with many of you that too much time and energy is being spent on the hype for the England against United States match. When you think about it, it’s just one game. An important one, yes. But having said that, there are so many talking points circling around the game between the two western giants that it does, in fact, deserve the hype. It’s a game where there are so many story lines. It’s a game between two countries that have so much in common but there is an attitude of “We think we’re better than you” from both sides of the aisle. Americans would love to beat England. Englanders would love to beat America. With so much on the line, don’t be surprised if it ends a draw.

One of the many reasons I love the sport of soccer is because it’s better than any movie you can imagine. Going into the England against United States match, no one can predict what will happen and few will correctly predict what the end result will be. The unpredictability of the sport and how one decision or mistake can change the entire fabric of a 90 minute game is better than the greatest film. The movie featuring one of the biggest games of our lives will unfold in front of us on Saturday afternoon. And we’ll be watching every moment of it. ESPN must be licking their chops at the prospect of how massive the TV ratings will be.

For me, I have a very difficult decision to make. Do I support England or do I support the United States? I’ve gone on record to say that I’ll be happy no matter what happens this Saturday, so I can’t lose. Being Welsh and having lived in that country until I was 14, I should have a hatred of England (as many Welsh people do). But my father and my father’s side of the family is English. And the truth of the matter is that I’ve always supported British teams in previous World Cup tournaments because Wales have never reached the World Cup tournament in my life time. And more often than not, England has been the only British team that has qualified. So I’ve cheered them on in the 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cup tournaments.

I’ve also supported the United States in the 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cup tournaments. I’ve lived in the States for 26 years. I love this country and want the sport to succeed here. But up until the 2010 World Cup, I never had to choose between England or the United States because they never played each other in competitive games (again, during my lifetime). But now they will. And I have to decide which country I’ll support.

On Saturday afternoon at Wowies Sports Grill at the EPL Talk Viewing Party, I will be supporting <gulp> the United States. I’m hoping for an entertaining game. I won’t be disappointed if England wins, but I really really want the United States of America to win this match. Whether they will or not is a completely different story, but my allegiances are with the States. Running one of the top English soccer blogs in the world, you would think I would want England to win. But the States needs the win more than England. And so does the nation.

While so much of the focus has been placed on England against the United States, rightfully so, I trust that we’ll watch the other matches with nearly as much interest too. I know I will. The world doesn’t rotate around the USA and England, and there are so many countries I’m looking forward to seeing. Chile, Honduras and Spain are three teams I’m really looking forward to watching. And they just so happen to all play in the same group alongside Switzerland. There are many more matchups I’m looking forward to watching, but there are too many to list here right now. I just hope the tournament will be as good as it can be and that it won’t be ruined with the negative 4-5-1 tactics like the last World Cup was.

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