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

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks all weekend long, if you know where and when to look.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
Why Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges 'Should Stay Yellow'

Why Pittsburgh's Sister Bridges 'Should Stay Yellow'

PittGirl's says, quite simply, no other color will do.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
What I Learned on the Road about Pittsburgh's Restaurants

What I Learned on the Road about Pittsburgh's Restaurants

Thanks to chefs willing to travel and taste out-of-town dishes, our food culture continues to flourish.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Adorable Pittsburgh Boutiques for Baby

7 Adorable Pittsburgh Boutiques for Baby

If you have a little one on the way, or you’re shopping for one, check out these locally owned boutiques that simply ooze cuteness.

Comments


The Regatta by Land, Sea or Air

The Regatta by Land, Sea or Air

Don't let the tumultuous rivers keep you away — there are plenty of reasons to take a trip to the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta this weekend.

Comments


How to Make the Ultimate July Fourth Dessert

How to Make the Ultimate July Fourth Dessert

Be the hit at your party with these reinvented ice-cream floats.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Raising the Bar: The Fierce “Pyramid” Necklace

Raising the Bar: The Fierce “Pyramid” Necklace

Part of the Mod Evil’s Simple Geometry line, the Pyramid Bar necklace adds edge to your wardrobe.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
WYEP Music Fest: A Solid Excuse to Visit Schenley Plaza

WYEP Music Fest: A Solid Excuse to Visit Schenley Plaza

Songwriter Martin Sexton will headline the 18th edition of the free outdoor concert.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Planning the Perfect Wedding, No Matter the Weather

Planning the Perfect Wedding, No Matter the Weather

With a little creativity, you can have a beautiful celebration in any season.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Update Your Bedroom with the Help of an Expert

Update Your Bedroom with the Help of an Expert

Get inspired by this room designed by Joann Fullen.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pitt Turns to Washington to Fill Key Role

Pitt Turns to Washington to Fill Key Role

The school's new senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer will start in the near future.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Surprise! Pittsburgh's Soccer Team is Worthy of Your Attention

Surprise! Pittsburgh's Soccer Team is Worthy of Your Attention

So what if the Riverhounds aren't a major-league team. If you're not going to their games, you are missing out.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags