Soccer….Family Style


Back From the Dead….uh…Bed
June 11, 2015, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, International Soccer, US Soccer, Womens Soccer | Tags: , ,

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It feels like I’m coming back from the dead, but it’s really more like coming back from the bed. Publishing my book was all the feelings multiplied by fire hose delivery. It was so satisfying completing a project I’d worked on since 2010, and the feedback from other writers and true soccer fans was amazing. The internet backlash and misogyny was not. I learned so much, so fast, about so many things, it took me a while to process it all.

Then came the MLS All Star game in August and a funny thing happened. I woke up after a night of drinking and felt awful. Luckily, I was staying with my friend Phyllis, who gifted me the best memory of this particular morning. I drug myself out of bed and up to the kitchen and said,

“I can’t go drinking anymore this weekend. I think I’m pregnant.”

Phyllis, having witnessed my four year struggle to conceive our third child tried to steady my rocky seas with reason.

“You’re just hung over. Did you take a test?”

But I knew. The eternity we’d waited for our “Hat Trick” baby was coming to an end. The pregnancy gave me an all to welcome excuse to enter a hibernation-like sleep. I was tired of rolling my eyes at internet trolls accusing me of shamelessly self-promotion of my book (because y’know, artists, writers, musicians never promote their own work). I was hurt when American Outlaws withdrew their promised support for my book, and worse, I was angry when they offered little support when their own members made Twitter accounts to harass me. To have internet trolls announce my deeply wanted pregnancy on Twitter and joke about it being a mistake was the last straw. It was a good time to turn off my blog and block my internet haters for a while, because telling a pregnant woman to be unemotional about such things was unreasonable, and I had better things to focus on.

Now she’s here, our Hat Trick, and the fog of pregnancy and early motherhood is lifting just in time for the Women’s World Cup. Two games in Winnipeg sounded like a great idea for a ten hour road trip to my husband and older kids and I didn’t have the will to be the fun-hater that would point out the a ten hour drive with a newborn would take almost twenty hours (when you throw in the three hour wait at the border). YES! Let’s take a seven week old to Canada!

As we arrive in Winnipeg, it doesn’t seem so bad. The kids played soccer and partied with other soccer fans at the border and the Hat Trick Baby didn’t complain one bit about taking three hours off from her car seat. (Although she’s clearly letting us know she’s ready to get to the hotel now….5 more minutes baby. I’m excited to go to our first Women’s World Cup since our first born was a baby in 2003. I’m excited to be in Canada for the first time since I was a kid. I’m excited to see what WoSo looks like now that so many of our soccer buddies are traveling to support it.

Welcome back from the bed.

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The Storytellers World Cup – Why This is a Great Draw for US Soccer
December 7, 2013, 2:17 am
Filed under: FIFA, International Soccer, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

The moment Ghana drew into the same group as Germany, I knew it. I turned to the group of Des Moines Outlaws gathered in the middle parlor of our home and said “This is our group.” There were groans and begging not to jinx us, but moments later, when they held up “USA,” and as almost everyone hung their heads, I was jumping and shouting for joy. I love this group. I’ve dreamed about a group like this. The short answer: Because Jürgen Klinsmann. Here’s the long answer why:

Ghana: We finally get to play Ghana in the first round! I’m a believe in the third time being the charm, based on the highly scientific study of draw simulators I ran all day while my son was home sick. When Ghana was in our group, we got out of the group. This is the year. I believe that Klinsmann can make the US team believe they can do anything. He can lead the US to avenging our losses in previous World Cups. It will be a moment of spontaneous healing for soccer fans across the US. I can’t freaking wait.

FigoRonaldoPortugal: Best game of my life was watching us beat Portugal in the 2002 World Cup. I met most of my soccer family that day, walking up to the stadium, and the game itself was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.  They were #4 in the world, we were college kids with no clue. They had Figo, we had….mostly people before they were famous. That glorious moment when we scored in the third minute, my husband was shaking me and screaming “This is going to be the longest 87 minutes of my life!” You better believe I think we can do it again. No doubt. My only regret is that Ronaldo’s name won’t fit well into the “Agoos has more goals than Figo!” chant. (Side note: yo, USMNT…no own goals this time, my heart stopped after the Agoos goal and didn’t restart til the final whistle.) Relive that game? Yes please!

6a00d83478053469e201116907d3b7970c-800wiGERMANY: The MOTHERLODE!! The team that brought me to US Soccer. That beat us in 1998. That sent us home in 2002. Who we BEAT THIS YEAR. Don’t give me your “Meh, it was a friendly” “It was their C team” Whatever. Klinsmann wants to beat Germany. I’d put money on it. Because he must have about 100x more German friends than I do, and is just as sick of hearing about how the German team is better than the US. Maybe some days they are, but not June 26, 2014. That is the day we will avenge this handball, and I will get to send a nice bottle of consolation wine to my German housefather, as he delivered to me after our 1998 loss.

Klinsmann was on the team that destroyed us in 1998. He understands the game, the psychology, the bench, the players. He needs to play Ghana and two European teams, instead of needing to prepare for an African team, a South American team, and a European team. Already a job made more simple. But more importantly, he’s been inside the German psychological game.

The 1998 US Soccer sports psychologist, when speaking about that game, told how Germany stood next to US Soccer in the tunnel, and in unison, turned to the US looking unimpressed and unthreatened, then in unison snapped eyes back front, leaving our boys without any hope of beating the German machine before they ever left the tunnel. Klinsmann was one of those players…oh sorry, he was the CAPTAIN. Heck yes I want him leading us into this battle! This is the year, I’ve felt it since we hired Klinsmann, this is THE YEAR.

It’s not enough for me, just getting out of the group, and I cannot for the life of me understand why we’re just talking about getting out of the group, now or in 2010. It is un-American to not want to do better, strive for more than we’ve ever done, so let me tantalize you a bit with what awaits us on the other side of the epic battle we have in front of us. My geek husband ran the numbers on group “deathness,” much like MLS did here, only he used FIFA and ELO rankings. When you look at ELO, deathness is ranked (starting with most deadly) B, G, D, A, C, F, E, H. See, we’re not in the worst group (smirk). But what about the next rounds? Let go of your fears and look into the next round!

If (when!) we escape the first round, we get to face the winners of group H. How’s that side looking? Not too shabby. You know who we face in the round after that?? E or F’s winner. Aw yeah boyeee!! I know, I know…one game at a time, but seriously America, get hungry. When we hired Klinsmann, I told my kids I thought he was the coach to take us further in the World Cup than we’d ever gone. I still believe. You should too, because it’s going to be an epic story next summer.



Qatar? You Must Be Joking.
December 3, 2010, 4:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I am not happy. And when Mama ain’t happy…..we must be going to Qatar.

I was so excited for the announcement from FIFA this morning. I thought that the earning potential for the US hosting would be a slam dunk. Then I woke up hearing my son getting up. My son that my husband was supposed to take so I could start writing this post in the morning. Note to self: three year olds do NOT understand the gravity of FIFA Decision Day. So I’m juggling getting him ready, me ready, cursing ESPN for talking about basketball all morning, and waiting. And waiting. FIFA started 40 minutes late. Would’ve helped me to know that ahead of time, so I could have dropped him off and had some peace.

So I finally gave up waiting for FIFA when? About 7 minutes before they announced. I was less than two miles from my house and I saw that Russia got 2018 on Twitter and I called my fellow Des Moines American Outlaw Corey so I could get audio and not be alone in my car with a three year old when I heard. So I heard it, through the phone, and didn’t really believe it until I heard Corey’s expletive commentary. Qatar. Really.

All I know about Qatar is from one of my soccer travel buddies, Brock. You’ve seen him on TV. He’s one of those guys that wear the 9/11 Eagle shirts. We had a contest in South Africa to see who could score more media whore points. Trust me, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably seen him. His day job is building the Doha Airport. And he reports via Facebook about the project and the culture. It’s nothing revolutionary. Mostly his reports were about how bazaar it is to need a permit for alcohol.

I’m trying to tell myself that I’ll be 50 and won’t care as much about drinking. But I think that’s a bunch of crap, of course I’ll still care about drinking. And about being a woman with rights. And a Jew. It wasn’t as much fun going to games in Nuremberg. It was a little creepy, and I have a feeling that I’ll be watching my back and not ever really comfortable. When we flew through Dubai on the way to South Africa, we took a cab around the city…a ladies cab. They have separate cabs that women can go in. I think Qatar is going to be a big cultural shift for most soccer fans.

Once I got off the phone with Corey, I called Chad, another Des Moines soccer fan that typically has some good analysis. He started rattling off stats to me: Qatar is 4416 square miles. Think about that number. See if this helps: Iowa is 56276 square miles. Connecticut is 5543 square miles. The 2nd largest city in Qatar is SMALLER than the Des Moines metro area.

I think it’s irresponsible to build infrastructure to support a World Cup in a country that size. I understand that they’ll pack up stadiums and ship them around the world, but what about the hotels? After sleeping in many, many Korean “love hotels,” it scares me to think what will be called into housing in Qatar.

And air conditioning a field? I believe that technology exists, but do we have any business using it for something like this in an age when we should be cutting energy consumption?  I can’t see how that’s going to be a green thing…air conditioning the outdoors.

Finally, this is personal for me. Qatar will, G-d willing, be my 8th consecutive men’s World Cup. Not going is not an option. The expense comparison for England/USA and Russia/Qatar is huge. There goes the college fund. People were joking with me today about inspiring my children to play in 2022/23 and 2026/27. I’m going to have to, because those kids are going to need some serious scholarship money.

 



Go USA Bid!
December 2, 2010, 3:37 am
Filed under: FIFA, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

I hadn’t really paid too much attention to the bidding process until today. I have a store to run and kids to raise. And I figured it was a done deal…who could turn down the financial benefits of the US hosting the World Cup? I can’t say I was too happy about it. I go to the World Cup to see the world, not a bunch of stadiums I already go to. I was grumbling about how lame it would be…traveling around in a rented RV or something.

Then today people started talking about Qatar possibly having the votes, and my US Soccer pride kicked in as fast as you can say “Do they even serve alcohol in Qatar?” FIFA, are we really going to say, in the age of global warming, that it’s OK to air condition entire fields and fan viewing areas? A World Cup in the middle of a dry dessert….OK, it’s funny to say that now, but trust me, no one actually wants to do that. And I know this is on a personal note, but Qatar hosting means I’ll hear years of Brock Kwiatkowsky calling it “Cutter.” You’ll have to trust me, FIFA. The answer to the Qatar question is “seek happiness elsewhere.”

The US should host the World Cup. I am a soccer fan because the cup was here in 1994. I had been to one game in 1993 and then slammed right into the 1994 World Cup games in Chicago. I thought it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and I never wanted to miss another World Cup, and so far, I haven’t. I pray that in the next 12 years, America figures out that soccer is the greatest sport in the world, and we won’t need hosting to convert the masses, but just in case…let the US host and I’ll gladly spend all summer converting ordinary Americans into Ultra Fans.

We have huge stadiums that will sell out. We have the hotels. Not the “Love Hotels” like in Korea…real hotels in every price range. And we have lots and lots of people who want to see World Cup soccer. Remember South Africa? I was looking forward to a nice, intimate group of Americans, but noooo….we were the second highest attended national after South Africa. Those people and many, many more will flood stadiums across the US.

It will be epic. Americans will embrace soccer wholeheartedly. Brad Janovich will no longer be so misunderstood. US Soccer will have to institute a ticketing ranking system to ensure that the people who have followed them all over the world for the previous 28 years will be guaranteed tickets (you guys taking notes on this?) In short, it will be what we soccer fans have waited for, soccer hitting the tipping point in America’s mainstream.

So now, six and a half hours from the decision. I’m going to try (finally) to get some sleep. But I’ll have dreams of Sepp Blatter announcing “and in 2022, the FIFA World Cup goes to……the United States of America. GO USA BID.




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