I ducked out of work 30 minutes early yesterday to meet friends to watch the US play the Czech Republic in their first match of the tournament. I had been looking forward to this game since the schedule had been announced weeks (months?) ago. I wanted to support my team, the Americans. But when Jan Koller headed in the first Czech goal just 5 minutes into the game, I did not feel sad or even disappointed. It’s not that I suddenly didn’t want the Americans to win, it’s just that I wanted the Czechs to win too.
I had been talking about the conundrum with some other American Praguer footie fans for days. What do you do when you have two countries – a native one and an adopted one (we have all lived here for a long time), and they play head to head? We wanted the US to win and we wanted Czech to win. In case you are not familiar with the game, only one team can win each match – it’s in the rules. We were not hoping for a tie because that wouldn’t do either of the teams any good in the tournament.
So this is how it played out. Koller had scored and we couldn’t be sad about it. When US star Claudio Reyna’s awesome shot hit the Czech goalpost instead of going into the net, we all groaned. But then at 36 minutes, when Tomáš Rosický scored with a breathtaking kick from 25 metres, we all cheered along with the Czechs. Rosický scored again at 76 minutes and the Czechs won 3-0. (Rosický also scored 17 points for me and I have moved up to 2nd place in my fantasy league.)
And the worst is over. It is unlikely that the US and the Czechs will meet again in the tournament, and I can support both teams in all of their matches. I also support England, but they are not on the same level for me as my top two teams so I will not feel torn and tormented if I have to root against them.
The tournament goes on… In addition to lots more football, I am looking forward to being in Germany during the World Cup. At the beginning of July, I will be visiting Olive, who lives near Dortmund. Two quarter-final matches will be played while I am there. Olive and I have already agreed that we will watch the games outdoors on the giant screen tvs that have been set up everywhere, either in her town or in Dortmund. Dortmund is one of the World Cup cities – the first semi-final match will be played there the day after I leave. And of course there is a chance that one or more of my teams will be playing that day – that would be very cool.