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Alright Sarah, let's get you caught up on what you need to know: 1) 32 teams have played the last 3.5 years to qualify and play in. Check ESPN for the rundown of the 8 groups of 4 teams each. If you see any games pre-June 11th, those are international friendlies which teams use as a tune up for the World Cup. Good one to watch, if you get the feed in SA, is the England v Mexico match because both of those countries are football mad. When it starts, all teams will play one another in their respective groups. The US, in group C, will play England first, Slovenia and finally Algeria. You get 3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie (even 0-0) and 0 points for a loss. The two top teams with the highest point totals go into the round of sixteen. The second round, quarterfinals and semifinals are just one loss/you're out and the final two teams left play in the finals. 2) As I was taught by my Mexican uncles, you always, ALWAYS, first and foremost root for the country you were born in. Doesn't matter if you hate the country, it's culture and it's foreign policy. Though my uncles would love for me to root for Mexico, they respect me because I have been a fan of US soccer since they imparted that information. Look, it'd be cool if we could all root for the coolest countries out there, including all the cool ones you have visited (Brasil, SA, Argentina, etc.), but true football fans will respect you more if you root for your home country. That being said, you can also root for your ancestral home's teams as well. So as long as Mexico doesn't play the US and Spain doesn't play Mexico or the US, I can root for them. This year will be a hard one for a lot of my Caucasian friends as the US plays England in the first round. It'd be like if the US played Mexico; of course I would cheer loudly for the US Team. Finally, you can have personal preferences, but be sure you spread them out. In other words, you can't root for both Brasil and Argentina. It's just not done in polite company. Since you have been both in South America and Africa, I would pick one from each of these continents and watch the tournament progress. Some of your picks may not leave the first round, so shuffle the cards if need be. Personal preferences can go the other way as well. I hate the Italian game for some reason, so I always root for the other team. I also have a distaste for the French, and especially this year as they knocked out Ireland out in a rather "handy" way. Don't get me started. Just remember: have fun with this. It is truly one of the greatest things that we do as a planet. Make sure to surround yourself with good company, alcohol and food. I will actually be watching the first game of the Cup with a South African and will be wearing my Mexico shirt as it is the first game of the tourney. Drop me a line and let me know who your rooting for...I might have a few choice words for you. Until we speak again...cheers!!!
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May 13, 2010