My mother sent me a postcard with a picture of the Queen the day I became an American citizen. "Just a reminder" she wrote on the back. No doubt concerned that I'm going to start sounding more like a buffalo wing than a shepherd's pie, she's right to worry. With England facing the U.S. in their opening World Cup soccer match this Saturday, my dueling nationalities have left me with inner turmoil. Do I root for the motherland or the homeland?
Having grown up watching many national sporting endeavors end in futility, I feel I owe some allegiance to England. Unlike the USA's repetitive daily Olympic gold medals, my childhood memories are of 24/7 Olympic coverage with a bleary eyed BBC announcer saying, "Don't go to bed folks, cause at 4am we've got a very real chance of a bronze in the judo." A rare moment of tear-soaked English glory.
And that's my dilemma. England, the perennial underachiever, in this game the overwhelming favorite. The U.S., bullying champions of so much it chooses to participate in, now the ankle-biting underdog.
Maybe it's about being turned off by the English tabloid mentality, awash with its bombastic patriotic "Gawd save the Queen" and chants for In-ger-land. In this country, and especially in San Francisco's micro melting pot, soccer is the domain of lefty liberals and migrant workers -- both of which seem to represent, in some fashion, me.
England needs to win this game to have the best chance of avoiding a much tougher schedule. And yet, I keep coming back to the cruel hilarity that would ensue if England play to type and lose when it matters most. But the U.S. is a massive outsider to win the World Cup, so why push for them to win a game that would in all probability lead them nowhere?