Soccer….Family Style

Korea 2012: 10 Years Later
June 8, 2012, 10:46 am
Filed under: FIFA, International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer

A ripple went through the soccer world this week, as we passed the 10th anniversary of the US vs Portugal game in the 2002 World Cup. I smiled every time I read a “10 years ago I was….” post on facebook or Twitter, and I teared up watching babyfaced Landon Donovan in his disbelief scoring on the powerhouse on Portugal. As I thought about my “10 years ago today…” I got a little nostalgic.

Ten years ago, I was five months pregnant, with my darling girl, Aviva. I had taken the long flight to Korea with my husband, trying to keep my ankles from swelling on our way to our second foreign World Cup. We knew a few people from Iowa that would be in Korea, and we had met a few people through the “Yanks in Korea” Yahoo group (remember those days?) but otherwise, we were on our own. We headed out to the bar where Americans were meeting up, and came across many of the people that we continue to travel with to this day. It was like another world from where we are today. I had no idea the potential that US Soccer would display at that World Cup, and had no idea the bonds we would forge that day would lead to lifelong friendships with so many people.

US v Portugal would be my first time taking my daughter to a USMNT match (we called her’s “obstructed view seats”) and would start a lifetime of taking my kids into the supporters section. I remember her doing what felt like a full 360 spin when we hit the “wall of sound” that was the Koreans chanting in unison at the US vs Korea game. I remember cradling my belly at the US vs Poland game when it looked like we were headed home, all our work in the previous two matches for nothing.

I realize now, ten years later that there will never be another World Cup like that for me, where the unknown wonder of what was to come for our family and the team I love was so full and bright. I have loved every time I’ve brought my kids to games, but I find it hard to imagine a World Cup so far exceeding my expectation, now that the bar has been raised so high. It was a great experience to see the Germany Weltmeister through my then 3-1/2 year old’s eyes, and to travel South Africa with so many good friends was fantastic, but ten years ago, I was that pregnant girl in Korea, and I had the time of my life.

***If you want to read more about our trip to Korea and you can’t wait until I finish the book I’m writing about our travels, pick up a copy of Andy Gustafson’s “23 Days in Korea.” He is one of the people we met at that first game, and tells a great story of his trip, albeit misspelling my name and totally misrepresenting how that cab WAS mine! It is otherwise a great read. You can buy it here.

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