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The world is watching

June 12, 2014 - Steve Murch
I love the World Cup, just as I love the Olympics. I think in part it's because they are quadrennial events and the buildup helps to enhance the anticipation. It might be different if they happened annually, though maybe not.

The World Cup was my first real extended exposure to football/soccer, and it probably is the reason I developed an appreciation for the game. I doubt seriously that I would have given it as much more than passing interest if I had spent an extended period of time watching some random league. But I didn't ...

When my family first moved to Alpena, we owned the Best Western. Working at the front desk in the middle of the afternoon didn't create a lot of traffic with people checking in, and all the people who weren't staying over had already checked out. So, the TV was a good distraction.

The 1982 World Cup was in Spain and the U.S. wasn't in it. Television coverage of all things sports wasn't what it is today, and without the U.S. in it, there wasn't any American coverage. However, CBC showed games and since the other choices for TV in the middle of the afternoon would have been soap operas or Gilligan's Island reruns and the likes, I settled in to the World Cup.

After a couple of games I was hooked, and rooting for Cameroon. I figured a small African country was as good of an underdog as I would find, since I didn't have any skin in the game. When I don't have a team I root for, I always pick the underdog. Cameroon didn't advance but I kept on watching, and I've been watching ever since.

All the prognosticators and experts have the U.S. not advancing out of the group stage, and quite frankly they have good reason to think that. A “Group of Death” draw puts them in the same group as the No. 2 ranked team in the world, Germany, No. 4 ranked Portugal, and the fourth highest ranked team, Ghana, which eliminated the U.S. the last two World Cups.

Oy vey.

On top of that, the face and heart of the U.S. team the last several years, Landon Donovan, isn't on the roster this year. It can be argued that it shouldn't matter because if he's not one of the final 23 then he's not one of the best 23. However (and that's a long, drawn-out however), Donovan has the It factor and clutch gene. In a close game, say needing a goal for a win or tie in order to advance against Germany in the last game of the group stage for instance, this team will be looking for someone ...

Yet, I will be there rooting for the red, white and blue. And probably driving the staff nuts as I keep putting the games on the TV. The fun begins today.


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Blog Photos

AP Photo/Felipe Dana General view at the Itaquerao Stadium during an official training session the day before the group A World Cup soccer match between Brazil and Croatia in the Itaquerao Stadium, Sao Paulo, Brazil.