The Red-Blooded American's Guide to the World Cup

Five reasons why you need to care about the world's game.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicks off in less than two weeks in South Africa, and you should be excited. Now, I know what you’re thinking: "Soccer?! Isn’t that the sport where the guys—after frolicking over a particularly rough patch of grass—throw themselves on the ground like a three-year-old whose security blanket has been taken away?"

Yes, indeed, the sport’s faux-hawked stars have a reputation for being less than iron-willed. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be amped up like a wannabe-amateur UFC fighter during an Ed Hardy sale at J.C. Penny. Here are five reasons why the World Cup is going to be awesome:

1. The Revolutionary War: The Sequel

Not only is the United States of America in the World Cup, but we have been paired against our old nemesis, Mother England, in the opening game on June 12. While David Beckham will miss the World Cup with a torn Achilles, England’s team is chock-full of other temperamental multimillionaires with salon-perfect hair and hilariously unexpected, high-pitched Canterbury accents. They will make excellent villains.


2. Bad Guys You Can Believe In

The Olympic Ice Hockey Final was awesome, wasn’t it? The speed, the stakes, the pressure. Still, it was confusing for Pittsburghers because we were rooting against our own hometown hero, Sidney Crosby. With the World Cup, you get enjoy all the fun of xenophobia without any of the guilt.

Meet England's John Terry, a bad guy you can truly believe in.

Terry makes Tiger Woods look like a swell chap. Last year, Terry was caught cheating on his wife and mother of his twin 3-year-olds, which in today’s world has become as routine as admitting you pee in the shower. But get this – his mistress was the ex-girlfriend of his teammate Wayne Bridge. And Terry was England’s captain at the time. Take that, Sid Crosby.

But wait, there’s more! In 2001, Terry was fined by his club team for drunkenly taunting American tourists in a Heathrow Airport hotel the day after the 9/11 attacks. In 2008, he was fined for parking his Bentley in a handicapped spot. I’m not making this up.

His other hobbies include waterboarding puppies and donating large sums of money to British Petroleum.

3. Good Guys You Can Believe In

Sure, most of the world’s soccer squads are made up of swan-diving cheats, rascals and slap-happy scalawags, but Team USA are all porterhouse-eating, red-blooded Americans with a Springsteen cassette in the tape-deck of their Camaros.

When the players pull on their jerseys for the World Cup this summer with the echo of the hostile crowds booming outside the locker room door, a special phrase will be stitched close to their hearts: D.T.O.M. “Don’t Tread on Me.”

It’s us against the world, baby. England’s highest-paid player, the aforementioned John Terry, makes about $200,000 per week, while Team USA’s best player, forward Landon Donovan, makes less than $1 million a year.

In fact, most of Team USA’s starting lineup will make less money in an entire year than Terry does in a week.  But what the American team lacks in experience and skill, they make up for in hustle and heart.

One guy worth taking 90 minutes out of your day to root for is goalkeeper Tim Howard. Howard, 31, has become one of the best keepers in the world despite suffering from Tourette's Syndrome. Yet he refuses to take medication for the neurological disorder for fear that it will dull his reflexes, and instead keeps muscle spasms and verbal tics under control with mental exercises.

Incredible. Watch this 60 Minutes piece for more on Howard's amazing story.

4. Eye-Candy for Everyone

ESPN is broadcasting the World Cup in high-def. This is a big deal not because I want to see every golden strand of a Slovakian player’s mullet, but rather because it will offer a crystal clear view of Brazil’s cheering section.

Sdiaqwdjjk. I forget how to type.

Ladies, there’s plenty of value for you, too. Portugal employs the talents of one Cristiano Ronaldo – also known as the bizarrely-tanned guy who dated Paris Hilton. Here he is in the midst of an all-day retail therapy session:

Girls, meet the only man on earth who’s just as excited to see Sex and the City 2 as you are.
He can’t believe Samantha did that, either.

5. No Commercials

The best part about soccer? No commercial breaks except for half-time.

This is great, because if I have to see this Cisco Systems commercial with Ellen Page and the elementary school kids one more time, I’m going to lose my mind.


First of all, the unbridled enthusiasm of the children is entirely unrealistic. Walk into any Elementary classroom in America and you’ll find at least three kids passed out on their trapper-keepers in the throws of an all-night Xbox bender-turned-hangover.

Secondly, I’m supposed to believe that these little Einsteins are videoconferencing with their peers from China. CHINA. That’s a 12-hour time difference, people. Day is night. Night is day. But somehow both the Chinese and American classrooms are lit up like its high noon on Planet Sunshine.

Look at the kid in the front row.
He looks like he’s just seen Miley Cyrus ride into his classroom on a Pokémon.

Finally, LOOK AT THAT VIDEO QUALITY! The kid turns on the projector like it’s nothing. Have you ever tried to video chat with someone on Skype who lives in, like, Philadelphia? Their voice is always muted for the first five minutes and the video quality is so patchy that it looks like they’re being held captive by the Taliban.

On the bright side, the commercials you will see during the World Cup will rival Super Bowl ads. Check out this one from Nike and try to tell me you’re still not excited for the tournament:

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Steelers' DeAngelo Williams Scores as Daughters' Hair Stylist

Steelers' DeAngelo Williams Scores as Daughters' Hair Stylist

In a pair of TV ads, watch the Steelers' running back tackle styling the hair of his two adorable daughters.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

City leaders considered many options for Pittsburgh's confluence including something that looked like it was designed by the Jetsons, or an absolutely bonkers, batpoop insane idea by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Wigle Whiskey Ripe for Expansion with Threadbare

Wigle Whiskey Ripe for Expansion with Threadbare

The Strip District distillers will launch a hard cider business this fall.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Head to 'Quick and Shameless' For an Unpredictable (and Essential) Night of Pittsburgh Comedy

Head to 'Quick and Shameless' For an Unpredictable (and Essential) Night of Pittsburgh Comedy

The LGBTQ-friendly variety show offers one of the city's most unusual (and often unforgettable) lineups of comedic talent.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
It's Simple This Time, Super Bowl 50 Won't Even be Close

It's Simple This Time, Super Bowl 50 Won't Even be Close

The Panthers are going to get to the Broncos eventually. When that happens, Peyton Manning is going to be forced to throw it. And once that happens, it’s going to get ugly.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Delicate Pieces for the Harsh Winter

Delicate Pieces for the Harsh Winter

Lighten up your look with a cheerful necklace.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

Our reviews of "Hail, Caesar!," "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "The Choice."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Sugar and Spice: Cookie Table Contest Winners

Sugar and Spice: Cookie Table Contest Winners

Pittsburgh has it all: a beautiful skyline, breathtaking bridges and the most gorgeous cookie tables we’ve ever seen.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Pillow Talk: Pittsburgh's Skyline Inspires New Design Line

Pillow Talk: Pittsburgh's Skyline Inspires New Design Line

Check out the new pillow collection from local interior designer Zach Mitchell. Plus, get the scoop on The Pittsburgh Christmas Carol Tour.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

The event is for high school students who are interested in criminal justice, law enforcement and forensic science.

Comments

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags