Americans’ finale not surprising
NUREMBERG, Germany – In the end it wasn’t glorious, but these things usually aren’t. At some point you reach the point where your skills aren’t equal to your ambition. The U.S. hit that point Thursday and there was a sneaking suspicion before the match that it might come that evening. Italy did its part in the end to get us the result we needed, but the U.S. wasn’t up to the task. We can complain about penalties and diving again, but this time it was pretty clear it was over.One or two of the U.S. players were out on the field beforehand and came over to wave to friends and family – a sneaking suspicion that this was it? We saw a nice couple strolling the streets of Nuremberg with matching U.S. jerseys that had the No. 6 and the names McBride and McGroom on the back in the afternoon. At the game they had a sign that said, “Please let us extend our honeymoon.” Most neutrals in town and at the stadium were supporting Ghana, reflecting both the positive feeling toward African teams and some anti-American sentiment. One kid walked by our table at lunch with an Argentina jersey, a Ghana hat and suspiciously Abercrombie and Fitch-looking shorts. Some one in our party remarked there were several reasons for wanting to slap that kid around.
But in the end, football wins. In the famous Nazi parade grounds in Nuremberg after the match, the fan fest featured New Orleans swing bands, Ghanian dancers, German beers and pick-up games everywhere. It was a far cry from what Hitler imagined when he designed this site for Nazi party rallies. The pickup games themselves had men in turbans, kilts and cowboy hats. American women jumped in and taught everyone a lesson. There was even an American G.I. in camouflage with a beer in one hand. This scene is repeated all over Germany at historic sites including the Brandenberg Gate, where east and west were split apart in an earlier time. Now, the German chancellor is an East German women and the German coach lives in California. The world is changing.The great thing about being a U.S. fan is that most of us have a back-up. We get to now support the team that our granddad supported and see how far it goes. So for us now it’s, “Come on England.”
For someone else it might be Italy, Portugal, Korea, Mexico or Ghana. That unique duality is what makes us American. It is spreading to the rest of the world. We saw apartments in Germany with Turkish and German flags flying from the window. In the end, the game teaches us that we are all the same. We just want to have a peaceful good time, a few laughs and one less penalty kick.The lady on the train wrapped seemingly only in a Ghana flag kept singing and dancing, “We are the champions of the U.S.A. We are the winners for today.” And they were, and good luck to them in the next round against Brazil. What a great thing for these folks. I can only imagine the celebrations in Accra Thursday night.We head home to our own families with a richer understanding of the world and a keen appreciation for the comforts of home. Vail is a great place to be from and a great place to return to.
Can’t wait to see you all next week. By the way, Huskies – six weeks until preseason.See you in Johannesburg in 2010.David Cope is the soccer coach at Battle Mountain High School. Attending his fourth World Cup, Cope is reporting from Germany for the Vail Daily.Vail, Colorado
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.