By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Jul 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM

I'm beginning to wonder about my life and whether I have moved from a hardcore, traditional sports fan to some kind of wussy super patriot, the kind of person I normally hate.

I was all set for a Sunday afternoon nap after about two hours of guitar practice.

But before I knew what hit me, I found out that the United States was playing Panama in the title game the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Let's start at the beginning. I don't have a clue what the CONCACAF Gold Cup is. I also would be hard pressed to find Panama on a map. I also don't know anything about the country beside the fact I know they have a canal.

Plus, I still don't know all the rules in soccer. A handball I get, but other than that, I'm in the dark.

But I figured that this game meant something as opposed to something called a "friendly" which sounds something like badminton in your backyard with lemonade and chips with onion dip.

I watched the first half of the game while trying to stay awake on my couch. It seemed like a lot of falling and standing around and kicking the ball back and forth without really trying too hard to score a goal. And it was scoreless, or "nil, nil" at halftime.

But the second of the game got me sitting up, getting a fresh cup of coffee, throwing off my slippers and feeling the blood begin to boil.

It started when it seemed like the American team was finally roused from a slumber and began to attack the poor Panamanian goalie. Not a lot of shots, but a lot of action at least.

Finally the Americans mounted a real attack and the ball went to the front of the Panama goal. Landon Donovan, who is as good and as dominant an athlete as I’ve just about ever seen, got the ball on a cross from Alejandro Bedoya, took a mighty kick and whiffed. The ball glanced off his foot and was headed into the left corner of the goal when Brek Xhea barely touched it and the Americans were up, 1-0. (Or, one-nil).

Suddenly something started to happen to me.

I was feeling ... American. Not that I don't know I'm an American. I do. But I was feeling American pride. Funny.

I've always found super patriots and nationalists to be among the most obnoxious people I've ever met. They tend to wear me down with their flag waving and denigration of anything other than what they are. These people are jingoists and I can’t stand being around them. It's a lot like all those door-to-door traveling born again Christians who lust after the chance to tell me I'm headed to hell unless I let Jesus save me.

Now a soccer game with an absolutely great player like Donovan, didn't make me want to go out and paint my garage door red, white and blue or get a license plate that said AMRCN 1.

But as I sat on my couch and watched the United States team suffocate Panama with a fast and tough defense, I wouldn't have minded having one of those tiny flags that kids put on their bicycles for a parade on the Fourth of July. I'd have waved it. Minimally. But still waving.

Soccer. Are you kidding me?

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.