I sit here writing this at nearly 2am on the morning of the 4th of July. I am not your stereotypical patriot, at least not in the way that the rest of the world sees Americans. I don’t like bacon, I’ve never shot a gun before, I rarely listen to country music and the last truck I owned was made in Japan. I am the product of immigrants, not my great, great grandparents, I mean as immediate as my own mother. Sure I love the NFL, I enjoy spending the day at the ballpark with a beer and I do love myself some apple pie, but I am not your typical American….then again, what is typical in this great country?
So yeah back where I started, it’s America’s Birthday and although nearly half of my blood says I can cheer on “Les Bleus” without being called a bandwagoner and the other half includes three lions and well….a CONCACAF team that didn’t make the tournament…..we’ll just leave it at that, I instead sit here thinking “how nice would it have been to see MY team play a day after MY country celebrated its independence?”. What would those headlines have read?
I don’t need to say it again, you all know what happened. Our hopes, no matter how unrealistic they might have been were crushed and it hurt. It’s easy to say it’s “just a game”, but we know better than that. When a “game” unites a nation, the complexity of the situation can’t be simply defined in an overused phrase we tell tee-ball teams. It’s not just a game, it’s a movement.
There are many people like me in this beautiful land. The haters and political pundits can say what they will about heritage and the sport not being “ours”, but no matter how loud they seem at times, the fact we Americans - with paths that start from every corner of the globe - sing whether we win or whether we lose is starting to drown out their mean spirited opinions and in many cases they've ended up joining us in song when all is said and done.
The dream may have ended quicker than we wanted it to this year, but the memories we were gifted by 23 men in red, white and blue in their spirited attempt at glory will stick with us forever. A kid who grew up in the rain of Seattle worked his way through his beloved Sounders’ organization all the way to the world’s biggest stage before he was even old enough to order a drink. The German born son of an American Serviceman from Chicago shocked even himself when he helped his teammates slay a demon from the past. A Captain gave us hope just 29 seconds into battle before being bruised and bloodied only to give us hope once again, through the pain nearly a week later. A Coach who wore much different colors once upon a time developed stars and stripes right before our eyes.
This year was different. For those of us who didn't make the trip to Brazil, we joined fellow fans in stadiums, warehouses, offices, pubs, shopping malls and living rooms in cheering on our team and we did it in masses, filling every establishment from Seattle to Fresno to Kansas City to Chicago to Miami. We knew how tall the mountain was, but we’d be damned if we didn't join the ascent.
You see, we know the USA doesn’t dominate soccer and thank God for that, because when we do reach the top and we WILL reach the top, the view will be that much sweeter.
Some of our families call it “football” and some call it “soccer”. Some of our roots run deep in American soil, while others are just getting started, but at the end of the day we all sing along to the same anthem and we shout the same words “I believe that we will win!”
I still believe.