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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

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Fans celebrated when U.S. scored an early goal against Portugal.
Fans celebrated when U.S. scored an early goal against Portugal. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

World Cup unites diverse mix of soccer lovers

As I sit recovering from the USA vs. Germany match – yes, I was at the Highbury and yes, I had a few to many tall beers while watching the game – but it was a beautiful day to watch an incredibly thrilling game. 

For me, the World Cup brings back great memories of living in Toronto watching with my friends who were supporting everyone from Croatia – my pal Andy Krsic is the first Croat I’ve ever met – Italy, Belgium, Portugal and The Netherlands. I pulled for the USA. No one believed they would make it very far, but I believed and still do that they will make it to the finals. They obviously didn’t make it, but I will once again have faith. I am a true believer.

Now let's reflect on The World Cup. Why do I love it? I love it because you have countries as small as Costa Rica battling against much richer countries like Italy – whom they beat!  These teams don’t just magically make it to the playing field – they have to win their position by playing and winning matches within their own countries and confederations.

The USA is part of CONCACAF or Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football. This Confederation includes nations from the Caribbean, Central America, North America and part of South America. To qualify, you must earn enough points from playing in your group to earn the right to take part in World Cup. Not an easy task.

Watching the World Cup games at the Highbury really showcases the diversity Milwaukee has to offer. During the Ecuadorian vs. Honduras match – we had fans from both countries hooting and hollering for their team. Ecuador won and their celebration was infectious. I immediately decided I need to go visit cause they really know how to celebrate. There is a high contingency of Mexicans – one of my all time favorites of both people and country – Mexico is playing and they turn out. 

It might seem obvious, but I’ve run into some locals that don’t really see the diversity in Milwaukee and if anything feel it’s very segregated. I am not naïve. Yes, there is some segregation, but I think that is with all cities – including my home of NYC. This event, which happens every four years, brings out the soccer lover in all of us. People from around the world sit with hope in their hearts that their team will make it to the next round.

In fact, Columbia beat Uruguay yesterday and I know my pal Hernando is glowing with pride over his country making it to the next round. When I, pre-World Cup, asked him who was he pulling for he said, "First my country of Columbia and second my home of the USA." Good luck my Columbian friend!

As we roll into the next round of matches – USA vs. Belgium on Tuesday – I will be watching at Club Garibaldi. Go dig out your red, white and blue and show your support for one of the more exciting World Cup teams that the USA has been able to field. Dempsey, Bradley, Beasley and the amazing Tim Howard – we are all watching and I believe that we will win!

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