On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


World Cup Fever

So check this out, the US Men's soccer team heads into this year's World Cup championship in Fifth place, behind Brazil, Czech, Holland and Mexico. Not so incidentally, we were in fourth place two weeks ago. Still, we're three spots ahead of France who won the championship in 1998, eight spots ahead of Italy who usually make a run for the cup, and 14 spots over Germany who barely beat us last go round, but managed to make it to the final.

My inexpert opinion is that we have as good a shot as ever to make a serious bid for the prize. It's only a matter of time, if not this year.

But let's bring this home a bit and talk about Holland. The Dutch are seriously inflicted with World Cup mania. Never mind that my official Team USA t-shirt is on its way (it remains to be seen if I can muster up the guts to actually wear it out), Dutch exuberance is a bit more than nauseating -- not the least because their team color is orange. If it's not a jersey hung in a window or flags strung between buildings, it's wrapping an entire bar in orange plastic.

It's no secret that Americans are unpopular abroad. The US Team will travel around Germany in unmarked busses with half a military squad to protect them. As a fan, my concern is how to support my boys without finding more than just a bit of hair gel on my bicycle seat. My secret weapon is defender Cory Gibbs who has been on loan to ADO Den Haag since January. My strategy is to show my support through Gibbs in the hopes that Dutch people will think I'm just really into the Haagse team.

Go Cory!

Perhaps the Dutch won't even care about the US team, since we wouldn't meet them until the semi-final round. We have to win Group E to avoid playing Brazil in the second round. That's gonna be tough since we play no. 2 Czech in our first game. Crazy things could happen. With my secondary support going to Australia, there could be an upset in group F, leaving Brazil to fight it out against Czech in the second round. With Brazil out of the way, the US could actually meet the Dutch on July 5th.

Of note, The Socceroos are sporting a feisty team in their second bid to take the World Cup. They tied the Netherlands 1-1 in Sunday's friendly, sending three Dutch players to Germany with injuries. Australia meets Brazil in their second match. Here's to Australia with nothing to lose.

Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!

My fingers and toes are crossed.


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