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Passionate Bay Area soccer supporter revels in World Cup fever

World Cup primer for soccer-challenged, would-be fans
World Cup primer for soccer-challenged, would-be fans 02:54

OAKLAND -- The World Cup has shined a massive spotlight on soccer, with the sport gaining national popularity here in the U.S

For Jenna Lamb, the World Cup marks a special time when her favorite sport is celebrated almost like a religion. 

East Bay soccer fan Jenna Lamb
East Bay soccer fan Jenna Lamb. CBS

"My history with soccer is a long one," Lamb told KPIX 5. "Soccer has taught me so many values in life similar to what religion teaches. It's taught me communication, leadership, failing and getting back up. You're hoping, you're praying, sending up any prayers you can for your team."

Soccer came easy for Lamb, who has crafted her life around the sport. From playing in college, coaching at Santa Clara University, and today as the director of business development for the Oakland Roots. 

"A lot of people think soccer -- at the root of it -- is boring," she said of the delayed fandom in the U.S. 

"You can end the game in a tie, it can be 0-0, there can be no goals, and I think a lot of that comes from a misunderstanding from the game but once you know the principles and the players, you can appreciate the buildup and the art to it makes it much more exciting," Lamb added. 

One of the most notably complex rules is offsides. Lamb has a simple way to explain it. 

"The rule states that you're in an offside position if the attacker is before the wall of defenders before the ball is played. So when the ball is played they have to be in line with these defenders because there has to be at least two defenders," Lamb said. "So it's all about timing. You have to time your run behind the defenders to score a goal. However if you're making the run and you're behind the line and you score – no goal." 

Soccer is known for the exaggerated tumbles the players often take to the excitement, or sometimes frustration, of fans. But Lamb says there's a pretty good explanation for the practice and even a potential penalty for going too far. 

"There's definitely a strategy to it. I remember growing up you're getting fouled but you're trying to stay up because you want to keep the ball. And I remember my coach saying 'Go down if you're going to get fouled, because we need that kick and you're losing the ball and the ref's not going to call it,'" said Lamb. 

The next World Cup will be hosted by the U.S. with a few games at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara in 2026. By then, Lamb believes soccer will be just as welcomed here as any other major sport. 

"The momentum is growing, the better the men and women do in their respective world cups, the more inspiring it is for young people to stay in their own games, to lower the barrier of entry," said Lamb. "I believe it can become the preeminent sport in the U.S."

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