Thursday, June 24, 2010

USA vs. Algeria

(PICTURE: Me and Oguchi Onyewu's family at the World Cup in Germany. I also talked with them at this World Cup.)

(PICTURE: Devin and I traded jerseys with two Algerians after the game.)

By now everyone knows that the USA beat Algeria 1-0 on an amazing injury time goal by Landon Donovan. I received about a dozen emails from people (including Masumi in Japan and Kristy in Australia) congratulating the United States on our big win.

I can say that without a doubt, the ending of this game was the best finish to a sporting event I have ever been to (just edging out Donovan McNabb's last second touchdown pass against Virginia Tech at the Carrier Dome). I think I hugged about twenty strangers just because they were wearing USA gear. However, before we scored the winning goal, this could have been one of the most frustrating games I've ever attended. The USA should have put home at least two or three more goals, not including the goal that was mistakenly called back for being offsides. Regardless, all's well that ends well -- the USA won our group, edging out England.

One of the traditions in soccer is that players exchange jerseys after the game. Well, when walking around Pretoria after the game, two Algerians came up to Devin and me and asked to swap jerseys. I've had my "Gooch" jersey for four years but felt no hesitation in exchanging it with the two guys. Now I've got an Algerian jersey to remember our victory forever!

Mexican Americans

Before coming to South Africa, I read a few articles about how Americans bought the most tickets to the World Cup. When I first read this, I assumed I would see American flags and jerseys everywhere I went in South Africa. However, I didn't account for the fact that many Americans weren't coming solely to root for America. Based on nothing but my own observations, I would say that 50% of the Americans who came to the World Cup are rooting for other countries. The most obvious case of this is with Mexican Americans.

There are tons of Mexican Americans here pulling for Mexico. I would say that without a doubt, Mexico has the largest fan base at the tournament. You can't go a block without seeing a Mexican flag, a guy in a wrestler's mask or a sombrero. Our hotel, which is filled with people who bought their tickets from an American travel agent, is packed with Mexican Americans. I've met Mexican Americans ranging from places from Los Angeles to Jackson, Mississippi.

I don't want this blog to sound like the Mexican Americans are being unpatriotic because they're not. Every single Mexican American I've met is also rooting for America to win. Besides the Mexican Americans, I've met Americans rooting for Italy, Argentina and even...Algeria (the team America is playing in our third and final game...which will have already been played by the time this is posted)!