Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Regardless of the US result tomorrow, the first round of the World Cup has been a fantastic ride. I won’t soon forget watching our boys get stomped by the Czechs with veteran Red Bull defender Steve Jolley at a jam-packed Stout Pub in NYC.

Steve is a big reason why MLS remains one of the fan-friendliest leagues around. Imagine watching the US basketball team in the Olympics with members of the Knicks! On that day, Jolley was just a US fan like the rest of us, and offered some great insight on the US players, the Red Bulls, and his stint in Dallas. After the US match, Steve, Metro/RB diehard fan Joe Tiernan, and our new Aussie pal Felicity and I made it over to the Molly Wee pub on 8th Avenue to watch Italy-Ghana. Leaving the soccer-friendly confines of Stout brought us back into the real world, as a bunch of barflies were giving us crap about rooting for the US in the World Cup.

Questions we fielded:

  • Is Pele still playing?
  • Is that guy Ronaldo... um, Nehemiah still on Brazil?
  • So the US is out of it now, right?
  • Why don’t Americans like soccer?

Ugh. Baby steps, people.

Saturday’s Italy match was a different story. Arena once again proved to be a master motivator, and the US fans were in fantastic voice. The Deuce was huge, and I was so impressed with Gooch and Jimmy Conrad. After watching the epic US-Italy match at a pal’s in Brooklyn, we headed to the Mets game. There were a surprising number of US jerseys in the crowd, and as I had my Gooch #22 on, quite a few folks approached me to find out the result. A few more who had watched the match wondered aloud why Arena had left Eddie Johnson on the bench. I wondered, and still do, as well.

Which brings us to tomorrow. I’ll be back at Stout, where the place should be packed once again. With all four Group E teams needing a win, the morning should be fantastic. With a little luck, the US journey will continue. Enjoy, folks.

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