On Saturday, I will be have my loyalties questioned by my family. I do not believe they will disown me, but conversations could get heated. I will be the only one who wants and expects a United States win. My family will think I am crazy not to cheer for Italy, and especially for expecting anything from the US team. We are of Italian descent. On Saturday, I’ll feel like the only American.
After Monday’s game against the Czech Republic, a lot of people in the world had their beliefs reinforced. The United States may be ranked 5th among the soccer-playing nations, but the ranking means nothing because they play against terrible teams. No one expected them to do well except Americans who have no idea how soccer is played.
I know that the United States plays better soccer than what they showed on June 12th. Much better.
I believe that the team that will play against Italy on Saturday will be completely different from the one I saw on Monday. They have to be. Whatever happens, Italy will not have an easy game. And I will be cheering. If it will be anything like July 4th, 1994, when Cup-winner Brazil went scoreless for most of two halves due to miraculous saves on the part of the American defense, I will be cheering. The only difference this time is that I expect a win.
Italy is always a favorite to win the World Cup. The nation has one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Naturally they’ll have some really good players. Unfortunately for them, it won’t mean much.
Am I being overly optimistic? Perhaps. Even when Monday’s game came to a close, I was hoping for a few quick goals to equalize. I was not thinking like most people that being down 0-2 at half-time means the game is over. Still, I have seen the United States come back from a three goal deficit to win a match. It wasn’t impossible this time, either.
We can play. The United States has a team that works well together, which is why Monday’s game was so heartbreaking for me. If the United States can play the game the way I know they can, Italy doesn’t stand a chance. My family will just have to deal with it.
I want to see the United States beat Italy. I want the United States to win 2nd place in their group and play likely contender Brazil. I want revenge for that 2nd round elimination in 1994. I want to play against Germany for that game that America won everywhere except where it counted in 2002. And I know that the United States can do it, too. Regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, regardless of what the world thinks is impossible, I know that they can do it.
I believe. I just hope my team does.