We’re not emotionally prepared for today.
Though we’ve been thinking about this match since Dec. 6, 2013, when the U.S. was drawn into the Group of Death with Ghana, Portugal and Germany, none of us are mentally ready for U.S. v. Ghana.
How could we be? Nothing can prepare you for the emotions of watching your country in its World Cup opener, no matter how long or hard you’ve thought about it beforehand.
Nothing could’ve primed you for the ecstasy of 2002, when John O’Brien and Brian McBride led the U.S. to that shock victory over Portugal. Nothing could’ve gotten you set for the agony of 2006, when Jan Koller, Tomas Rosicky and the Czech Republic smashed the highly ranked U.S. in the opener in Germany. And what could’ve prepared you for the ups-and-downs of 2010, when the U.S. dropped a goal to England early, only for Clint Dempsey to equalize after England ‘keeper Rob Green quite literally dropped his shot into the net in a 1-1 draw in South Africa?
When the U.S. kicks off against Ghana – all too familiar Ghana – at 4:00 p.m. MT in Natal today, we’ll all jump on an American roller coaster ride. We’ll have highs and we’ll have lows. We’ll shout and cheer and scream and yell. We’ll ditch work early, belt out The Star Spangled Banner and watch the USMNT as they attempt to navigate their way through this most difficult of groups.
We’ve waited four years for this and, right now, we’re all full of hope. We’re dreaming of Jozy Altidore goals, Michael Bradley killer passes, Tim Howard saves and Kyle Beckerman tackles. We’re dreaming of taking it to Ghana, shutting down Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and beating Jurgen Klinsmann’s homeland, Germany. Right now, if we squint really, really hard, we can even see Clint Dempsey lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy at the Maracana.
Today’s match is an opportunity. A chance to cut out and watch the U.S. in the World Cup with friends, old and new. A chance for the USMNT to show its quality and exact a measure of revenge on the Black Stars. A chance for all of us to live the passion of a World Cup, to feel all of the requisite highs and lows that come with the best competition in all of sports.
We might not be emotionally ready for today’s U.S. match, but we know that – regardless of results – we’ll have an exciting ride with the USMNT this World Cup.
Enjoy that ride, enjoy the matches and – most importantly – enjoy the party.