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

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Hayes leaves KDKA TV after nearly 37 years with his legacy as one of the city's most respected, fair and accurate reporters – and his priceless sense of humor – firmly intact.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

The much-anticipated Japanese pub from Tamari's Roger Li and Round Corner Cantina's Derek Burnell will serve food and drink deep into the night.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

The case against TouchTunes, the streaming music loudspeaker that can't stop screwing up the vibe at local bars.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

For the Steelers, this is a draft that’s long on need but short on intrigue.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Want to shade yourself in style at Derby Day and the PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon? Look no further.

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.
Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Reviews of "Mother's Day," "Keanu," "Green Room" and local film news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
What Type of Favor Do You Favor?

What Type of Favor Do You Favor?

Planning your wedding and can’t think of the best favor that will represent you and your big day? We spoke with three Pittsburgh-area couples to learn more about making the best and most personalized decision possible.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Phipps Kicks off the Planting Season

Phipps Kicks off the Planting Season

Welcome spring at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens with the Great Plant Auction, Party in the Tropics and May Market.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

The Tech Savvy program from the American Association of University Women aims to interest middle school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Comments

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags