In June, 1950, at the World Cup in Brazil, the American team beat England 1-0. It was the last time the two teams met in the Cup and is still thought of as “the greatest upset in the history of World Cup soccer.” The defeat humiliated the proud England team and crushed a nation. In America, at the time, no one really cared; our squad went on to lose later in the tournament and returned home as the same collection of scrubs and next-to-nobodies. Have things changed? Will they today?
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in America who had even heard about this historic upset, let alone cared, if not for that New Yorker article two weeks back. Sixty years later, Americans still have their issues with the international game. Where’s the scoring? What’s with the offsides rule anyway? But today, Saturday, June 12, 2010, at 2:30 p.m., we’re going to give it another chance.
Maybe we’re giving it more like half of a chance. There will be tweets — oh, there will be tweets! — but many people in the U.S., unlike every other competing country where everything stops for a game, will be happy to go about their day soccer-less. That is, of course, until the screams from the neighbors get loud enough, or the texts start coming through, or the score is tied with the minutes waning. Then, the excitement be contagious. And should the Red, White and Blue pull out an earth-shattering upset? Well, then the World Cup really begins.
In the lead-up to the match, the squad got a shout-out from the Big Man:
But also some chiding from the British press (see top image, via Tumbledore), who seem beyond certain that not only can the U.S. not win the match, but we’re too boneheaded to even understand the game — its terminology, nuances or importance.
Keep in mind, though, that the other biggest story in the news right now, apart from the Cup, is the BP oil spill in the Gulf. British Petroleum, that is. British, as in England, as in the enemy. Obama has insisted to British Prime Minister David Cameron that “frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity.” But today, for 90 minutes, they can. That’s the point, isn’t it? To find catharsis in kicking a ball (and maybe a shin or two) in response to decades of oppression, colonization, racial tension, millions of gallons of oil in our water, or whatever your geopolitical gripes may be?
Get ’em, boys.