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

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Which 33 establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

Executive chefs often are given much of the credit for their restaurants’ success, but that praise would be hard to bestow if each did not lead an outstanding kitchen brigade.
The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

From ferns to forsythia, there are ample growth opportunities for creating a gorgeous, low-maintenance garden this year in your own backyard.
PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

In this case, as in most others, it's better to give than take.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Day-Long Tailgating Trashed for Chesney Concert

Day-Long Tailgating Trashed for Chesney Concert

Mayor Bill Peduto is determined not to have a repeat of the country music star’s last visit to Pittsburgh two years ago.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
Why You Need to Know These 4 Bold Pittsburgh Women

Why You Need to Know These 4 Bold Pittsburgh Women

PittGirl says these women "had Girl Power before the world knew what Girl Power meant."

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Good News: Gaucho Is Back and Bigger Than Ever

Good News: Gaucho Is Back and Bigger Than Ever

The Strip District's wood-smoked meat mecca reopens with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating — and AC.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Great Pittsburgh-Area Places to Watch Outdoor Concerts

6 Great Pittsburgh-Area Places to Watch Outdoor Concerts

Get the rundown on who's playing at our favorite summer venues.

Comments


Bricolage's Sweeping 'SAINTS TOUR' Turns Braddock Into One Big Stage

Bricolage's Sweeping 'SAINTS TOUR' Turns Braddock Into One Big Stage

The innovative company's latest immersive theater project takes audiences on an uncanny journey through the small town.

Comments


Party Time: Kaya Celebrates 20 Years with Festival and Food

Party Time: Kaya Celebrates 20 Years with Festival and Food

The Strip District's Latin/Caribbean restaurant marks the occasion with several shindigs, including the ever-popular Kaya Fest.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Garden in a Glass: Why You'll Love a Terrarium

Garden in a Glass: Why You'll Love a Terrarium

How does your garden grow? Add a touch of greenery to your desk or living space (and skip the weeding) with a low-maintenance terrarium.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
PyroFest Will Kick off with a Bang

PyroFest Will Kick off with a Bang

This year's fireworks-focused festivities will take place in Slippery Rock, Pa., through Saturday.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
7 Off-the-Beaten Path Wedding Photo Spots (That We LOVE!)

7 Off-the-Beaten Path Wedding Photo Spots (That We LOVE!)

These spots still scream Pittsburgh but they do so subtlety and elegantly, just what you want on your wedding day.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Head to the City for the Ultimate Flea Market

Head to the City for the Ultimate Flea Market

Neighborhood Flea returns for 2015, bringing with it an assortment of goods, workshops, food and more.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Science Lab to Debut This Summer in the Hill District

New Science Lab to Debut This Summer in the Hill District

The lab, a partnership between Duquesne University and Urban Innovation 21, will offer courses for a range of learners, including students in grades 3-12.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Pittsburgh's Best (and Worst) Sports Uniforms of All Time

Pittsburgh's Best (and Worst) Sports Uniforms of All Time

Sports teams are constantly reaching back into their history for throwback jerseys. But “retro” isn’t always a term of endearment when it comes to uniforms.

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