Dispatches From The Maracanã: A Trip To The World Cup


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On June 13th I will begin what is sure to be one of the most memorable journeys of my life. Yup, I am heading to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. I don’t know what to expect and I’m not 100% sure I understand what I’ve gotten myself into; however, I couldn’t be any more excited to begin this journey and to share my trip with you on The American Pitch.

It was last December when I got an email from one of my best college buddies offering me the chance of a lifetime. He had three tickets to five World Cup games in Rio de Janeiro. He offered me the last tickets he had. What was I going to say? No? Yeah right! I immediately jumped at the opportunity to cross one of the biggest items off my sports bucket list.

Everybody has one of these lists. Mine is particularly long and complex. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a lot of important sporting events in my lifetime; however, going to the World Cup in Brazil has long been a fantasy of mine and had been perched atop my bucket list ever since Brazil was awarded the World Cup in October of 2007.

At the time I was a freshman in college at the University of Oregon and wasn’t particularly interested in soccer. To be quite honest, I’m one of the Americans who gets excited for soccer once every four years, or at least I was until around 2008. Now, let’s be clear: I’m still more of a basketball, football, hockey (Go Kings!), and baseball fan than I am a soccer fan. It’s been that way since I was a little kid growing up in Los Angeles. However, a chance to go to the World Cup? In the most soccer crazy country in the entire world? At one of the most recognizable stadiums on the planet? I didn’t have to think twice. I didn’t have to weigh my options. I was all in.

More from World Cup

So, in 11 days from now I will be boarding a plane to Rio. Not only am I going to the World Cup because I think it’s going to be an unforgettable experience, but I’m going with the hopes that I’ll get a crash course in the beautiful game and gain an understanding of why the entire world is crazier about soccer than fans in the United States are. Yes, I understand that soccer isn’t engrained in our DNA like it is in most of the world. Yes, I understand that the sports landscape in the United States is more diverse than every other country on the planet. However, soccer is one the rise in the US. That much is undeniable. I want, no, I NEED to know how much the world cares about soccer and how much further Americans have to go.

My goal in Rio is to completely embrace the soccer lifestyle and bring back an understanding of why the beautiful game is also the game of the world. It’s of the utmost importance for me, as a sports fanatic, to truly connect with the game and understand it’s place on the world stage. What better place to get an understanding of it’s importance than in Brazil?

Mandatory Credit: A. Detrick.

See, I believe that in order for the United States to truly compete every four years for a World Cup title, our fans need to be as good as fans across the globe. Yes, Sam’s Army and The American Outlaws are some of the finest fans we have to offer. They travel like maniacs, they support the US Men’s National Team like it’s their job, and they’ve been doing a fantastic job of spreading the game. However, we have so much further to go. As they say, we’re only as strong as our weakest link. Well, I may be one of the weak links when it comes to supporting soccer. I’m going to Rio to try and change that.

I truly believe that you can be a star team on the World stage if your fans are supporting you like a champion should be supported. It all starts from the bottom. Think about the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have been in existence since 1974. For the most part they’ve been a mediocre team since their inception. However, over the course of time the team, and the city of Seattle, laid the foundation for excellent through their fan base. The 12th man, a moniker they “stole” from Texas A&M, defined the team and, to a certain extent, the city. The 12’s, as they’re referred to, supported the Seahawks unlike any other fan base in the NFL. They’re loud, to the nth degree, passionate, and always show up on Sundays. This season, with a fantastic team in tow, they rode their exuberance to their first Super Bowl championship.

Now, did the Seahawks win a Super Bowl simply because they had the best fans in the NFL? No. There were plenty of incredibly smart moves that were made along the way. Drafting the likes of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Russell Wilson certainly played an enormous role in the success of the team. However, the 2013 Seahawks don’t win the Super Bowl if they don’t have the 12th man supporting them. Those fans laid the foundation for greatness.

The USMNT fans are building a base. They’re building a foundation for the future. The USMNT probably isn’t going to win the World Cup this year in Brazil; however, they do need to lay down a couple of more bricks this year. Advancing to the Quarterfinals would do wonders for the sport of soccer in the United States. However, I really believe that in order for the USMNT to succeed on a global stage that the fans of the USMNT need to be the best in the World.

So, in essence, I’m going to Brazil because I believe the US wants to have one more extremely passionate soccer fan in order to spread the game and help the USMNT one day become World Cup Champions. But, in order to become that type of passionate fan, I needed to experience the game in a place that revels in it as if it we’re a religion. Yes, I’m going to Brazil because it’s going to be an incredible trip with amazing friends. Yes, I’m going to Brazil because it’s at the top of my sports bucket list and I would give anything to cross it off. However, the number one reason I’m going is because I want to experience the beautiful game at it’s peak.

The peak is the World Cup in Brazil. Regardless of what happens in Brazil, there is no doubt I will come back with a greater appreciation for the sport and will be able to support the USMNT in a way that will lay a foundation for future success.

Continuing following my journey on The American Pitch as I will be posting article from Rio as I make my way through the World Cup. I’ll be writing about the games I’ve attended, games I’ve watched from local botecos, and about my general experiences in Brazil. I’ll also be writing one more piece before I head to Brazil on World Cup gambling (!!!!) and my predictions for the 2014 World Cup.

For those of you who are wondering, this is my schedule in Brazil:

World Cup Schedule 

Game 1: Sunday June 15th – Argentina vs Bosnia and Herzegovina – 6:00 PM EST

Game 2: Wednesday June 18th – Spain vs Chile – 3:00 PM EST

Game 3: Sunday June 22nd – Belgium vs Russia – Noon EST

Game 4: Wednesday June 25th – Ecuador vs France – 4:00 PM EST

Game 5: Saturday June 28th – Winner of Group C vs Qualifier of Group D – 4:00 PM EST