Keller: Spirit around soccer team is contagious

Published 11:45 pm Friday, July 4, 2014

Approximately 40 years ago, I read an article in Reader’s Digest about the game of soccer one day becoming popular in America.

It stated that young children would enjoy playing soccer in preference to other popular American sports. The reason it gave was because parents didn’t understand the game and couldn’t coach and correct them.

It would be a game they would enjoy and have fun, without the destructive criticism of some grownups.

With 15 grandchildren and a love for sports, I’ve attended many baseball, basketball, football and volleyball games. My grandson, David, decided to play soccer one year while attending St. Peter School. I attended a few games and considered it boring.

It was impossible for me to get excited and enjoy a game I didn’t understand.

Regardless of my lack of interest in the sport, soccer did catch on and, today, is played in the majority of schools and on most playgrounds.

Except for my brief experience when David played soccer, I’ve never gone to a soccer game or viewed it on television.

However, that changed in the past two weeks.

Listening to the national news about the United States and its participation in the World Cup Tournament in Brazil got my attention.

In the first round of action, the U.S. defeated Ghana 2 – 1. The TV showed large crowds of people in New York, Chicago and other cities celebrating the victory.

Their next opponent was Portugal. Being curious about the excitement that the team generated, I looked at the whole game. The U.S. led 2 – 1 until the last few seconds, when Portugal tied the score and the game ended 2 – 2.

Next, they played Germany, which was a big favorite to win. I, again, looked at the game and Germany struggled to win 2 – 1.

Because of the Portugal and Ghana game results, the United States earned the right to advance to the second round as one of the remaining 16 teams.

They faced Belgium and after 90 minutes of regulation playing time, were scoreless. Belgium defeated the United States 2 – 1 in overtime. Until the end, the American fans chanted, “Yes, we believe we will win! Yes, we believe we will win!”

I couldn’t believe how wrapped up I got in a sport I still don’t understand.

I watched as the U.S. team played their hearts out, came up short, exhausted, and disappointed.

The coach, players, and fans were proud to be representing America.

I pray that the spirit of the U.S. team and its fans will be contagious and we can get together and solve many of our differences.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend and May God Bless America!

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