2014 World Cup Brazil: Why I Love The USA As Underdogs

June 16, 2014

Listen up, nation: you can’t have it both ways.

Don’t go around telling the world that you love to be underestimated, that it makes victory that much sweeter, and then get snappy when someone goes and calls you what apparently only you have the right to call yourself.

Jurgen Klinsmann is European, so he probably doesn’t fully understand how Americans react to that type of thing. It’s confusing really; we want to be underestimated yet when someone tells us we aren’t the favorite we get defensive. Or we just say we don’t like soccer.

The truth is pretty clear to those following world football. The United States is an underdog in this World Cup, not only to win the whole thing but even to advance past group play.

Understand that. You don’t have to be on board with the idea, but it’ll be much more fun if you do.

It isn’t very often that Americans have the opportunity to be world beaters. We’re normally the best in just about everything we do, and if we’re not we either create a way to become just that or we rationalize until satisfaction.

You can rationalize about the USMNT too, if you’d like. The best athletes in the United States don’t gravitate towards the world’s game and as a result the LeBron James of soccer hasn’t yet surfaced in the U.S. organization.

But the world doesn’t care and never has.

So here we are, hours away from taking on a nation about 1/12 the size of our country. There’s no LeBron James on Ghana’s soccer team, either. But Ghana’s about the closest thing to an even match that the United States will see in this tournament.

I’m not going to lie to you; I like to consider myself the underdog just like everyone else. As a white male who grew up in an upper middle class environment, though, I’m anything but that. The closest I ever came to being an underdog was on the field, or court, or track, or just about anywhere else where my athletic ability came into question (mostly because I have very little).

Everyone feels like the underdog somewhere, though. Whether it be in athletic competitions, or in the classroom, or the office, or for some people through the struggles of their own children they can only help so much.

And since we’re usually the bullies in everything else, we don’t get that joy of cheering out of pure hope rather than expectation.

Obviously, there are expectations for this team. At least in the locker room. But for the underdog, the expectation is to perform to the capability of oneself, because no one else places external expectations.

It’s a rugged perspective. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps type thinking. No one really wants to be the underdog, especially Americans. But when you are, there’s a right way to approach the situation.

The world may not, but I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN.

Do you?

– K. Becks

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