I fell in love with soccer watching the English Premier League.
Up early every Saturday and Sunday to watch the matches on cable, admiring Lampard's steadiness, Gerrard's will to win, Rooney's excellence, Ashley Cole's daring runs. I admire the pinball they play in La Liga, but I'm passionate about the EPL. Give me the blood, sweat, and tears--I will choose craft over artistry every time.
And so even as I root for the Americans in this Cup, I have a soft spot for the Three Lions.
And today my heart aches a little.
In its own way England's performance yesterday was as shocking as the U.S. comeback. Passionless, boring, tentative, and afraid, it was the opposite of the play I have come to love and expect on the match of the week.
Poor Wayne Rooney, lost and useless on the pitch, snarling at his own fans off it, has, within a fortnight, become the British poster child for unfulfilled ambitions and dashed hopes.
In Nike's now famous "Write the Future" ad, Rooney is presented at a crossroads--in one direction lies failure and a trailer park future. In another, success, knighthood and a future in which every child in the U.K. is named Wayne in his honor.
There is still a window for Rooney and the English squad to write the future--but time is desperately running out. Time to see what the lads are made of.