The United States kick off their World Cup campaign today at 3:00 Pacific against Ghana in Natal, Rio Grande de Norte, Brazil. Look at that sentence again. It's happening. It's really here you guys. I have butterflies.
World Cup group stage kickoff day is the cruelest opening day in all of sports cause it combines the anticipation of opening day with the crushing reality of meaningful late season matches.
This is the seventh straight group stage opener that the United States has had the privilege to play in. 2010 it was Clint Dempsey's saveable shot that gave the US a 1-1 draw with England. 2006 started with a bad loss to the Czech Republic, but 2002 saw the United States beat Portugal 3-2 as Landon Donovan made his World Cup debut starting at forward.
There was 1994 when the US came out in a Pontiac Silverdome with broken air conditioning and temporary sod laid over the turf. In those conditions, Alexi Lalas and Yanks managed a 1-1 draw against Switzerland.
"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." -John Paul Jones
The latest word is that conditions at field level are fine despite flooding in Natal. Apparently it has a state of the art drainage system. Current weather in the city is 84 degrees with 62% humidity which is almost exactly the state of the weather in North Carolina right now.
"I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."
CONCACAF nations aren't supposed to do anything in a tournament meant to celebrate the excellence of European and South American soccer. I don't hold to that notion. Neither did Mexico or Costa Rica thus far. So I do believe that we will win. I aim to misbehave.