I am a passionate fan of football, at both the club and international level, but my first love will always be U.S. Soccer. I was in high school when the United States Men’s National Team made their magical run at the 1994 World Cup and have watched nearly every televised game since. Whether it was the heart-breaking disappointment of the 1998 and 2006 World Cups, or the exhilaration of the team’s runs in 1994, 2002 and 2010, I am 100% behind our team.
I love our women’s team as well, and no, not for the same reasons that many fair-weather fans love them. I love them because despite the fact that they are consistently ranked as the world’s best team, they play with the same desire, fire and competitiveness as our much lower-ranked men’s team. I often find myself huddled next to my computer monitor watching the women’s team’s games over a choppy internet feed because no network thought the game was worth televising.
There is something special about our teams, something that derives itself from almost never having the most talented players, to always feeling that we lack the respect we deserve. Something that comes from wins that are eked out through amazing goalkeeper play, defenders willing to sacrifice their bodies, workhorse midfielders and opportunistic forwards. Something that comes from knowing the rest of the world looks down on your team with disdain, believing there is no way your group of athletes could ever compete with them in their beautiful game. Something that comes from winning games with a team that plays better than the sum of its parts, a team that wins despite the odds, a team that wins with fortitude, organization and that most under-appreciated virtue…heart.
John D. Halloran