As painful as America’s World Cup exit was, its supporters must now pick themselves up from the mat as there are only a precious few World Cup matches to indulge in. At first blush it may seem difficult to find a new side to root for. But there’s a nation out there worthy of our support.
Here’s my guide on who American fans should now root for in the World Cup:
America, despite its now century-old international superpower status, loves a good underdog story. General George Washington was our first hero and ever since then the idea of an insider who works outside the system to succeed against all odds has defined our preferred pop culture narrative. 28 million people watched the underdog American Olympic hockey team take on the Canadian colossus in 2010, while in 2012 only 12.5 million tuned in to see Dream Team Mark VI coast to basketball gold. After watching the USMNT grit n’ grind their way to within a Wondolowski-poke of the Quarterfinals, cheering on the heavily-favored Bonito Brazilians would be against our values.
If miniscule Mathieu Valbuena were an American sports star, our nation’s sportswriters would pile a monument made of plaudits as high as the Statue of Liberty. Think David Eckstein. Or diminutive QBs like Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Doug Flutie for Valbueana’s ability to zip passes around. Couple him with relative giant Paul Pogba and you have a Hollywood-worthy pairing a la Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman or Billy Crystal and Georghe Muresan. But then again, getting mainstream America to adopt soccer was already a struggle – asking the country to now adopt France would be a bridge too far.
America certainly owes a debt to Deutschland thanks to the dynamic play of Jurgen Klinsmann’s imports John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones, and Julian Green. Slap some Ray-Bans and Hurley board shorts on Germany’s diesel eagle logo and you’d have the hottest seller at Urban Outfitters. Still, it feels too much like rallying behind Alabama football or Duke basketball. After all, this is a country that has made it deep into every World Cup since it won its first title in 1954. Most importantly, they screwed us out of a semi-final berth in 2002.