Kicking up some interest on the pitch

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

I can’t say I have caught soccer fever completely, but I may have a touch of the virus.

I’m still not ready to wave the American flag or even think about painting my face — though it could use a fresh coat or two

— in the name of national soccer pride.

But I must admit, rather sheepishly, I have watched more than my share of this World Cup.

It could be I’m just showing my support for the lads (that’s British soccer talk for players, I believe) or it could just

be an anti-Landon Donovan vote.

He is the supposed cover boy for American soccer who was cut from this year’s squad.

You would have thought U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, the former Germany soccer poster star, had burned an American flag

right in the middle of the pitch.

Yes, pitch is another soccer term. I’m trying here, folks.

I admire Klinsmann for having the cuts to those he felt would not help the cause. Seems to be working since Team USA is on

the verge of getting out of what many called the Group of Death.

That does sound exciting, but having watched the two American games, and a good portion of some others, I think this group

may well be overrated.

Still, advancing would be a huge victory for U.S. soccer. Heck, we could even win this group death thing with a victory over

Klinsmann’s very own Germany Thursday.

While I’m not sure I completely buy

into this whole “One Nation, One Team” theme the Americans have going — I

believe five

U.S. players are also citizens of other nations including Germany —

I realize allied armies were made up of several nations

as well.

And that seemed to work out pretty good early in the last century.

Not to compare soccer to a world war, but it is good to see the nation getting behind something.

For me one of the best parts of sports is the fact it can bring people together, to cheer for a common cause. This cause just

happens to be soccer.

I think I’m like most watching this World Cup, I don’t know that much about the sport but every four years it seems to matter

to a large portion of Earth’s population so you might as well take a look and see what all the fuss is about.

I never walked on the moon but felt I had to watch as a young boy.

Never been involved in a car chase, yet 20 years ago this month I watched O.J. Simpson sit in the back of white Bronco as

police cars by the numbers and news helicopters followed his slow moves through Southern California.

So taking a few hours over the summer to watch soccer seems easy enough.

I don’t think that makes me the Paul Revere of America’s soccer revolution, if that ever does take place.

Nor am I about to leap onto any bandwagon, but it has caught my interest.

I guess we all want something to root for, and the United States being an underdog is something that makes it more exciting.

I watched as Ghana outplayed us and we won. I watched as we outplayed Portugal and tied (sorry, that’s a draw as I try to

keep learning this soccer thing.)

Won’t say I cheered when we took the lead Sunday or that I was upset with we lost it almost five minutes into extra time (more

soccer lingo).

I did notice that our lads (soccer term again) have become good at the international game of pretending to be hurt only to

jump up and keep playing after wasting time.

So they are learning as well.

I don’t know if I’m willing to root for us over Germany. Seems like I will probably still watch and learn.

One thing is for sure, I’m not ready to call it futbol.

Not even close.