I do not claim to be a soccer fan. A fan is much more than what I am. I have watched some of the past World Cup games. I have played the FIFA video games, a lot. I have even gone to some MLS games (then shout it out REAL!). A real fan follows the league, and by league, I mean the European ones. A real fan knows all of the players and can actually speak to the strengths and weaknesses of the players - he does not just regurgitate what Mike and Mike have said on the AM radio (bc they know absolutely nothing and just regurgitate what others say). I think I am an above average soccer watcher. So, when I had the opportunity to go to Brazil to watch the USA v Ghana World Cup game, I was worried I didn't know enough, that I was an ignorant punk and didn't deserve to go...but in reality, that is perfectly fine because its totally American.
America loves the bandwagon. To true fans, the snobs, the bandwagon fans drives them nuts! How many Miami Heat fans did you know before LBJ? When it was just DWade? Hardly any. How many Seahawks fans did you know? When it was Hasselbeck and Alexander? None. We love a winner and quickly forget the loser. Obama. Carrot Top. Tom Shoes. Etc. While the snobs hate you, there is no consequence for you lack of allegiance. Let me give you an example:
I'm in the Rio airport going to Natal to watch the game. There are Brazilian, Argentine, English, and Spanish fans everywhere. I wait at my gate and slowly the American fans trickle in. When its time for us to board our plane, they start chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! As if this is us playing the Russian in '80. The rest of the world's fans look at us in total disgust. We are children that got to the adults table. We were the sports bitch for a long time and here we were puffing our chest out before we have even played a game.
The World Cup is the perfect storm for the ignorant to become a quasi USMNT (I always think of TMNT when I see that) fan, one that will buy a jersey and fly to Brazil to watch a game. You are already supposed to be a fan because you are an American citizen. It's in you blood. Root for your country. It is not about the game, not really. Its just like the Olympics. Suddenly, everyone knows a good and bad start in the bobsled and the 100 meter. You can watch it at work and its not a problem. The best part is, no one gives a crap that you only know a few names and aren't really sure what offsides is. However, you must hate diving. You just need to know a few chants "U-S-A" and "I BELIVE THAT WE WILL WIN". That's all it takes. You are in the club.
I don't know if soccer will ever be what it is for the rest of the world, but for right now, it doesn't really matter. We came together and rooted for our boys and we will do it again in four years. We will expect a lot from them, for no other real reason than we are cocky S.O.Bs. The bandwagon will come around pick everyone up and drop them off when its over, and that is just fine.