Well this will be a bit awkward after my spirited defense of Kirsten and England, but here goes. You may remember, that while agreeing with Kirsten's stance on loving England though she's an American, I claimed to do the same. But then I started thinking about it. Did I really love England as a squad? I knew more about the US side and had more opportunities to watch them. I've even gotten to see the USMNT play once (CONCACAF Gold Cup v. Cuba in 2005 at Qwest Field).
But still, I have always liked the English team. I don't know why. So that's why this is a bit tough for me. Rest assured that this decision came before Saturday's match. I really want to get into soccer/football. I want to be able to follow it passionately, and not just during the World Cup. I want to go nuts when my team scores a great goal, and yes, I want to feel like Graham does when my goalkeeper lets one through. And to the end, I've decided to become a supporter of the USMNT. What changed my mind is something that happened here in DC. Washington is a pretty soccer-crazy town. As laughable as the result was, the "We Win Trophies" campaign for the match against the Sounders last summer caught the city's attention. It's pretty easy to like soccer here.
So when it was announced that there would be an open-air showing of the US-England match in DuPont Circle (a park within a traffic circle), I wanted to go. And I decided I wanted to begin my support of the US. If we lost, I wanted to be with a crowd of a few hundred other people, if we won, I wanted to celebrate with them. I wanted it to be a jubilant experience like it is for so many. And if I wasn't sure going in, the event solidified my choice. There weren't a few hundred people. There were likely a few thousand. In an oversized traffic circle on a day that hit 97 degrees with high humidity. I didn't move during the whole match, simply because I couldn't. Eddie Pope came out to get the crowd excited, but he wasn't needed. Even after Gerrard's goal, there was still a sense of anticipation. Maybe we could just find a way. And when we did, somehow, the crowd went insane. I was hugging people I'd never met before, screaming at the top of my lungs, and jumping up and down like a mad man. That's what soccer is supposed to be. It was probably the best sporting event I've ever attended "live" (even a group watch on TV screens beats anything I've ever actually seen live).
So I'm sorry: to England, to Kirsten, to Graham, to everyone I told I was an England fan. England may have lost a fan, but I guarantee you that soccer found one. I'm hooked, and I'm hooked like I've never been before. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for England, but I support Bradley's Boys now.