For a nation caught up primarily on
baseball and American football, proper football (or soccer as it is called in
is getting more than its fair share of attention.
American soccer players have been
on magazine covers and the nightly news shows in ever-increasing numbers. On TV
they are getting plenty of attention from sports stations like ESPN and generating
lots of content on the internet.
In short the World Cup and the American
team are receiving unprecedented promotion in the United States. That fact shocks
veteran Landon Donovan.
“For the last six months all we’ve
seen is U.S. vs England,”
Donovan said. “And so, if you were a casual sports fan at home, you might think
that this was the World Cup final.”
“We don’t fear them (the English).
We feel they’re a team we can compete with. Those of us who were there in 2006,
we’ve been waiting for this opportunity. This is everything to me.
“We’ve never been better prepared.
We feel we are good enough to beat any team in the world if we play our best.
The challenge is to bring that effort to every game during the World Cup.”
Donovan and company might feel the
attention even more from the fact that Saturday’s match marks the first
competitive meeting between the nations since the 1-0 American upset in the
first round of the 1950 World Cup.
England’s stars have received a fair share of the hype as well with the
likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and John Terry being seen even more on U.S. television
than they are on British TV.
Ultimately all the buzz may be
about Saturday’s game in Rustenberg but U.S. players say they are giving equal
emphasis to their other two first-round games, against Slovenia on next Friday
June 18 and Algeria on Wednesday June 23. The England game they say is primary
only because it comes first.