Do you plan to watch Thursday's U.S.-Germany World Cup match?

Leading Off: Soccer never bigger in U.S., Sacramento

Published: Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 - 7:13 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 - 7:33 pm

Growing up in my neighborhood, a soccer ball was about as useful as the metric system. While the rest of the world understood both, the kids on my block never would – no matter how much the nuns at St. Charles Borromeo in South Sacramento pushed.

Back then, nobody would have cared if the United States had a victory taken away – one that would have advanced the Americans to the round of 16 – with a stoppage-time goal in a World Cup match.

Soccer? What’s a World Cup?

But times have changed. In the 1980s, youth soccer leagues exploded across the nation, and those children have grown into adult soccer fans. Before there was Major League Soccer, the World Cup came to America in 1994, when the home team reached the group of 16. In 2002, the Americans reached the World Cup quarterfinals, and in 2010 the U.S. won its group for the first time since 1930, as Captain America, Landon Donovan, beat Algeria with his memorable goal in stoppage time.

Now we know the men’s national team like our favorite NFL or baseball team’s starting lineup: Jozy Altidore is the best striker but is hurt; Tim Howard has been amazing in goal and was not to blame for the late goal against Portugal; and team captain Clint Dempsey has been a big leader.

Now there’s professional soccer in Sacramento, with Republic FC setting USL Pro attendance records in its first season. And there’s talk about the MLS coming to town.

Soccer in the United States and Sacramento has never mattered more than it does now.

We may never use the metric system, but we finally can say se habla futbol.

– Victor Contreras


Today’s poll

Do you plan to watch Thursday’s U.S.-Germany World Cup match ?

• Yes

• No

Vote above, or go to sacbee.com/sports

Weekend results

What do you plan to do on Thursday ?

• Go to an NBA draft party: 11%

• Attend track meet: 2%

• Attend Republic FC match: 19%

• Attend River Cats game: 30%

• Attend one of these, plus watch the World Cup: 7%

• I don’t care about any of them: 30%

Total votes: 335

Read more articles by Victor Contreras

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