Hello, I'm Alex Fritz and I'm the annoying jerk who will actually write about soccer here.
As I found myself with the juggling task of shopping at the Tower Grove Farmers Market (Slogan: Come Walk Like An Asshole!) with a 5-year-old human and a 2-year-old dog on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I couldn't help but to notice all of the other soccer jerseys around me. I had thrown my blue USA kit on as soon as I got out of bed, and almost every vendor I stopped at asked what I thought was going to happen when the U.S. took on Britain later that afternoon. (One guy booed me when I told him I was just hoping for a draw. People need to boo each other more often.) The excitement for the upcoming match was palpable, but I assumed it was only amongst unbearable pretentious people like myself that shop at farmers markets and watch soccer.
A false assumption, I quickly found out. I took my niece to Schnucks to get some ice cream for breakfast (this is why I'm not a parent) and more and more folks were making small talk about the upcoming match. It was like some bizarre dream world where my second favorite sport was not considered gay (it's not, jerks!). From all reports I heard, the pubs about town and the viewing party down at the old post office were packed, as booze-filled Yanks and Limeys alike were out to show support for their teams (their teams all got word of this, I assume, probably on the Internet).
The match, in this observer's eyes, did not disappoint, as the much maligned U.S. defense gave up an early goal (thanks Gooch! Thanks Clark!) but shored up in the second half; England's keeper pulled a boner to let the U.S. tie it; and the U.S. keeper—the staunchly aggressive Tim Howard—fueled on nothing but adrenaline (and a ton of painkillers) gutted through a rib injury to finish the match in fine fashion. We didn't win, but that in and of itself was pretty much a win. Sure, it may be like kissing your sister, but it's your hotter sister, so it's cool.
I've spent most of my time since then explaining soccer to newcomers—how substitutions work, how an average soccer player runs a little over five miles a game, how only FIFA could make a 32-team tournament not single elimination—and tricked some American football friends at work into believing most games are high scoring. And those guys did enjoy watching Germany's drubbing over Australia on Sunday afternoon.
If you're new to watching the matches and need something to help you through the Cardinals' June swoon, think about getting up early Friday morning, calling in sick, and grabbing a few pints before heading out to watch your USA boys take on Slovenia (whose main exports includes chain smokers and shiftiness). If you don't know where to go, check out the fine folks at Day Pints for an idea.
Honestly, I'm just a lot more geeked for this Cup than I am to watch the Cardinals be shut out by Ryan Rowland-Smith.