World Cup: U.S. Aims to Create Miracle on Grass

U.S. national soccer team goalkeeper Tim Howard, left, laughs as forward Jozy Altidore, right, looks on, during a news conference in Irene, South Africa. AP

U.S. national soccer team goalkeeper Tim Howard, left, laughs as forward Jozy Altidore, right, looks on, during a news conference in Irene, South Africa.
AP

Negotiations with lovers are complete. Weekend plans have been restructured. Baseball tickets have been sold or given away to that nice, but strange lady at Starbucks.

Everyone who's anyone will be watching the U.S. take on Ghana at 2:30pm EDT Saturday.

Everyone who's no one will be watching too. Because this truly is the People's Game.

This is America's next step into getting more soccer stars on Wheaties boxes. This is America's next step in creating a miracle on grass.

This is America's next step in educating the obstinate, the retrograde and the manifestly obstructive in the game that captivates the world.

Though the U.S. has ridden both good fortune and bad in its World Cup campaign, many might think that it must prefer to be facing Ghana rather than Germany.

Facing Germany in an elimination game is like facing Bobby Flay in "Iron Chef."

You tend not to win.

Facing Ghana, however, brings with it its own little issues.

At the last World Cup, Ghana eliminated the U.S thanks to a highly dubious penalty decision.

Given the copious joy the team has experienced at the hands of referees in this World Cup and a few in the past, many will be hoping that lightning doesn't strike more than, say, eight times in the same place.

Ghana will be physical and determined. It also may have the whole of Africa united behind it, as it might only be joined in the knockout stage by the Ivory Coast.

This also doesn't help the U.S in the calculatingly neutral eyes of referees.

Still, because of some of the group standings have been as predictable as a squirrel with a firecracker in its teeth, some are already suggesting the U.S. has a relatively easy path to the semifinals.

Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas, is not merely a deep American convert, but is predicting deep American progress.

"The best moment for me at the World Cup so far was that nail biting end when the USA scored in the last minute against Algeria. It was an incredible finale and was the most memorable one for me," he said.

Sounding like someone who is desperate to play for the L.A. Galaxy and meet Tom Cruise, Fabregas added: "The USA never give up. That's why I believe they can go much further because they fight to the end and work so hard. They are in a good side of the draw now - they have Ghana next, then maybe Uruguay in the quarterfinals."

Uruguay plays Mexico, so Fabregas might not be holidaying in Cancun after the competition is over.

He might not be taking a trip to Montevideo either as he declared himself quite boldly: "I can see them (USA) reaching the semifinals and then who knows what might happen."

So there is absolutely no pressure at all going in to Saturday's game.

Perhaps the motivational technique for the Americans will consist of persuading themselves that no one in the U.S cares about football.

Perhaps they will tell themselves that this is merely another game in front of a few thousand in San Jose or Houston.

Or perhaps they'll look at this as a chance to shine in the brightest spotlight the world has to offer.

And even if the whole of America won't watch on Saturday, they'll hear about it if the U.S. triumphs.

This is the world's Broadway, not that parochial New York version.

The one place where, if you do well, if you do something extraordinary, everyone will know and everyone will care.

At least American bars will be full. The cheers will be fulsome.

And a team whose ethnicity reflects the whole of America, not just some part of it, will stride out and attempt to make a little more history.

This won't be a day at the beach.

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.

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