>Vamos USA!

>Like all “real” sports fans here in America, I’m captivated by the World Cup. And for the first time in three World Cups, I’m rooting for Sam’s Army right here in my home turf.

There’s something to be said about being surrounded by like-minded fans who share your same nationalistic pride. Something that I’ll never take for granted.

Last World Cup, I was traveling in Quebec, surrounded by French Canadiens and other nationalities. Three World Cups ago, I was traveling in Brazil – Rio de Janeiro specifically. Lucky for me, Brazil won the World Cup that took place in South Korea/Japan, becoming five-time champions. A byproduct of that victory? I discovered what the verb “party” really meant (not even attending a state school could prepare me for the type of festivities I saw down there).

But now, I can’t say I’d rather be anywhere except the good ol’ U.S. of A. to enjoy a little futbol with those in red, white and blue. Try being the only Americans in a bar in Montreal when all others are cheering for the Azzurri or with those who have shifted to become bandwagon Brazilian fans. Awkward, yes. While at the bar, we didn’t want to look like we had “quintessential obnoxious Americans” etched on our foreheads, so we were careful in containing our cheers and jeers. Even worse, we were traveling during the unpopular Bush years when American popularity waned as much as our soccer hopes did that year. Then, we quickly reminded ourselves Canada’s first and only World Cup qualification was in 1986 and its best chance of qualifying escaped when Steve Nash decided to play basketball instead of soccer. So then we cheered to our hearts’ content.

On Friday I watched the USA’s match against Slovenia on my home turf. More specifically, I watched the 10 a.m. game sitting right at my office desk in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Connected to the Internet, and thankful our workplace is a “soccer-friendly office” (as deemed by our COO), I cursed at the first Slovenian goal. And, I nearly smashed my office phone with my right fist at their second goal. But when Landon Donovan scored one of the best goals in the tournament to cut the Slovenia lead in half, I let out a yelp that only an American soccer fan can appreciate. Funny thing is, I could hear about half the office floor cheering almost simultaneously with me. And, when Michael Bradley scored the equalizer, I couldn’t be happier to cheer amongst my pro-American mates. Yes, the obnoxious American was here, right where she belonged.

However our American boys do this year, however they finish, it’s overwhelmingly refreshing to cheer amongst peers and to be embraced by those who love Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, Altidore, Edu, Bocanegra, Bradley and the other troops in Sam’s Army as much as I do.

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