Germany, USA vie for history

I walked into my class on Wednesday and was greeted with, “You’re gonna lose on Friday! We’ll beat you.” Tuesday night I arrived at work and was greeted by co-workers who began chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A.” I was wearing my Germany jersey, of course, as I have been every day for the last two weeks.

For those of you who haven’t picked up on it yet, this is about soccer. The United States is playing Germany on Friday for a spot in the semifinals of this year’s World Cup. A win would give the Americans their best showing since 1930 when the first World Cup was played in Uruguay.

I was pleased with being heckled a bit as it showed that there is some interest in the success the United States has had so far. It also made me more nervous than I already was. The United States might very well win this game.

A U.S. win would without a doubt be an upset; but it wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise. If this tournament has had a theme, it’s upsets. South Korea beat favorite Italy. Senegal beat Sweden and defending champion France. And the U.S. boys beat Portugal in a game that started all the buzz.

In fact, four teams – Senegal, South Korea, Turkey and the USA – that weren’t generally picked to advance from their groups, are playing for spots in the semis. Only three of the eight remaining teams have won the cup before – Brazil, England and Germany. Germany has won it three times.

This is an exciting matchup. Two very young, very inexperienced and very talented teams are going to go at it. The United States has speed on their side and no pressure. The Germans are, well, the Germans. This is their 13th consecutive quarterfinal, a record. A trip to the final would be their seventh, another record.

I need this game sooner than Friday morning. It has been all I think about. It is time for you readers to get excited, too. I passed a girl wearing a Brazil jersey on Monday, and we only smiled at each other. I’m sure she knew that Germany and Brazil might meet in the final.

Germany and the USA have played six times so far. Germany leads the series 4-2. The most important game, of course, was at the last World Cup in 1998. The two teams were in the same group, and Germany won 2-0. The last game was earlier this year. Germany won that one too, 4-2.

But the U.S. team, which ended up last out of 32 in 1998, is riding a wave of success. After leaving Portugal and Poland behind in its group, it disposed of Mexico 2-0. The Germans have had the results, winning their group with seven out of nine points, but they have not looked as strong as I’d hoped. A typical German tournament team – efficient.

There is a good possibility that the USA takes this game and goes to the semifinals, where they would meet Spain or South Korea. Spain has a history of choking in big games, and South Korea already had to settle for a tie with the United States earlier in the tournament. Anything is possible.

This U.S. team has achieved more than anyone expected of it. It deserves attention and excitement. The U.S. team has arrived. It is not being laughed at anymore. It’s time for the fans to follow.

The game will be played Friday morning at 7:30 so set your alarms and turn to ESPN and watch your team try to make history.