Thursday, June 24, 2010

Soccer Wins in the Culture War

In the end, it was fitting that Landon Donovan would win it for soccer in America. No matter what happens in the next round of the World Cup, Donovan, the best player in U.S. history, provided one of the most thrilling moments in all of sports when he found the net against Algeria in injury time to turn a winter of discontent into a spring of hope. A draw and the U.S. would have been out. A win and the U.S. wins the group. One minute (literally), you are about to get the boot, the next, you are on top of the heap. Could there be a more improbable Horatio Alger story in sports?

By winning the group, the U.S. will face Ghana in the elimination stage, surely a better draw than Germany. Now it's the two old adversaries, Germany and England, who will lock horns, all their nationalistic baggages in full view . Meanwhile, America basks in its victory over Algeria, and suddenly even the most indifferent American is taking note. "I never cared for soccer," a friend said, "but when I saw in my email that America won its group, I became curious, interested." The whole country will be watching in prime time on Saturday if the U.S. can overcome Ghana and move onto uncharted territory.

I believe it can. A fairy tale like this will end but not this soon. The U.S. will reach the quarterfinals and soccer will finally become mainstream. "Dream on," you say? Yes, I do, because the American sports psyche does not resonate to the rhythm of basketball and baseball and football only, but also to the magical beauty of soccer.

Soccer moms across the nation will be joined by soccer dads and that's a wonderful way for the culture war on soccer to end.

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