England v. USA: Where do your loyalties lie?

So, yeah. June 12. Day two of the World Cup. Where do you stand?

As Canadians, our notions of culture and nationhood have, in a way, always been a tug-of-war between the colonial motherland and our elephantic southern neighbours. Now we get a chance to see that duality of influence played out on the biggest sporting stage of all, with much grander implications than that of a single soccer game.

A victory for England would be a ho-hum affair, a by-rote dispatching of some inferior side, pre-scripted pseudo-drama along their triumphant march towards the true meaningful event: the inevitable knockout-round loss on penalty kicks to some truly hated opponent, followed by the subsequent hand-wringing, soul-searching, pint-swilling and effigy-burning.

But for the States… an opening-game victory over England would be of astronomical value. It would serve (rightly or wrongly) as validation of everything Major League Soccer has done since its inception, it would provide epic moments to be replayed ad nauseam on American networks from here to eternity, and would be looked upon as the culmination of years of momentum and progress, and — perhaps — the long-theorized point where soccer finally “breaks through” into the mainstream American sporting consciousness, once and for all.

Or, as is most likely, Bob Bradley will play 10 men behind the ball, England will miss some chances, and we’ll all be subjected to an excruciating, unsatisfying 0-0 draw.

But forget about that! The question is, as the title suggests, where do your loyalties lie in this match?

My answer, without hesitation or equivocation: with the United States of America.

Blasphemy to many Canadians, I know, brought up as we are with the Queen proudly donning our currency and Uncle Sam held up as the embodiment of everything to be feared and reviled (except, y’know, when we need a solid trading partner, tourism dollars, imported cultural products, national defence, et cetera).

Blasphemy, especially, to many Canadian footie fans, who love the game as they do not as a result of this trifling continental product, but because of their familial connection to the Union Jack. And, sure, it’s ridiculous of me to begrudge anyone whose bloodline runs back to England — and who tells me that, if Canada were playing, they’d support Les Rouges — for supporting The Three Lions.

So, to be clear: if you have English blood in you, and you would support Canada if they were playing, then the following sentence does not apply to you.

But for everyone else… any soccer fan in Canada not supporting the USA in this game can go fuck themselves.

That statement has absolutely nothing to do with culture, politics or history. This is all about the development of soccer in Canada, which is what I give a shit about (well, in this context, anyway).

The reality is, like it or not, the development of soccer in Canada is intrinsically and inextricably (for the time being, at least) linked to the development of soccer in the United States.

Our fortunes as a soccer nation have nothing whatsoever to do with England, or any other European side, regardless of how glamorous their teams may be, or how many people with their blood may live within our borders.

If the Americans do win, and all of the marvelous things I described previously do take place, it bodes well for the popularity of professional soccer — specifically, MLS. You know, that league where our three existing professional teams will all be playing, come 2012?

You could argue that if the USA can beat England, then Canada surely has no hope against them, and a strong American side decreases our chances of qualifying for the World Cup out of the CONCACAF zone.

But, again, let’s be realistic. It’s not 1985 anymore. We don’t need to be the best team in CONCACAF to make it. In the current qualifying structure, we just need to finish in the top four out of six in the last qualifying round. We’re not competing against the USA and Mexico for one of the top two spots, but we don’t have to be. We’re competing against teams like Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica and El Salvador for those #3 and #4 spots. And U.S. success at the World Cup would not, in any way that I can perceive, have the same “trickle-down” effect on those nations as it would on us.

Aside from its impact on Canadian soccer, I must admit… it’s pretty damn cool to think that players you’ve seen play live, in your own city, could be playing at the World Cup. Hell, if Edson Buddle somehow makes the cut, a guy who played for MY team is out there, in the World Cup, against England!

The USA is always portrayed to Canadians as a big, scary juggernaut, so I’m really looking forward to the prospect of seeing their national soccer team as the scrappy underdog — with, potentially, guys who’ve played in my own (figurative) backyard — up against the big, scary juggernaut of world footie.

I know I’m going to be in the minority. I know that, whatever bar I end up watching the game at (probably Scallywags) will be packed with full-blooded Britons, hangers-on, wannabes and hipster morons all cheering England to victory. I’ll probably get some very threatening looks (and, if I’m lucky, actual threats of physical violence) for having the audacity to cheer on the Yanks.

But I don’t care. In fact, I look forward to it. After all, being a Canadian soccer fan is all about knowing you’re going to be hopelessly outnumbered, but doing what you feel is right anyway.

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38 Responses to “England v. USA: Where do your loyalties lie?”

  1. RonNasty64 Says:

    I’m with England, but only because my wife if English. The US is going to be a mainstay at the World Cup for years to come. How it becomes embraced by Americans is a different story. One can only hope that success at the Worlds will lead to success in the MLS and your right, there will be a spill over affect up hear as a result.

    • Well, as Marge Simpson said, when you marry someone, you take their DNA too. So I guess you fall into the “English blood” camp and, as such, are excused.

  2. So are you going to wear a USA jersey?

  3. Honestly, I would like to see the US win. I am a supporter of English football, but I think its time for North America to establish itself on the footballing map.

    The US has produced some great soccer players in previous years and is continuing to improve as a team. As Canadians I think it’s best that we support our cross border brothers. Better Soccer in the US will soon lead to better Soccer in Canada. Which is a must!

    B

    • “Better Soccer in the US will soon lead to better Soccer in Canada. Which is a must!”

      If I had to compress this blog post into tweet form, I’d just say it like this.

  4. Well, according to renowned statistician Nate Silver, England could drop the opening match and still have a 59% chance of advancing from the group.

    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/story/_/page/worldcup101-04282010/ce/us/group-c-analysis?cc=5901&ver=us

    So there really are no excuses for Canadians who choose Ingerlund over the USofA, at least for this particular match. Heck, by this logic, if you truly care about the development of the game around the world, you should be hoping for an England loss even if you’re English!

    • I was going to jokingly say “well, yeah, the other two teams in the group are Algeria and Slovenia, for Christ’s sakes”, but then I remembered, Slovenia did pretty well in their European qualifying group.

      … but come on, it’s Algeria and Slovenia, for Christ’s sakes! I’m pretty sure England could lose to the States and still be in pretty good shape.

  5. Great post – Great topic. My loyalties are lying with the Americans. I am Canadian and currently living in Toronto and on June 12, I will be wearing a US jersey.

    This is why: I really like the way the American run their program, the have excellent sponsorships, great facilities and government support, they also have a great website, and the players are very accessible and active in the community and the social media space.

    Being from Canada I also played a lot of soccer in the US and American scholarship programs have helped not only me, but many of my friends get an education. If the US did well at the world cup that could eventually lead to more exposure and development and could ultimately lead to more opportunities for Canadians. Very few Canadians play professionally in England, but many Canadian soccer players are educated free of charge at big US Universities.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, Jeremy. Though I’m not sure I’m sold on the merits of actually wearing a US Soccer jersey… especially if it’s a Donovan kit… that might be a bit too much, even for me…

  6. “But for everyone else… any soccer fan in Canada not supporting the USA in this game can go fuck themselves.”

    “I know I’m going to be in the minority. I know that, whatever bar I end up watching the game at (probably Scallywags) will be packed with full-blooded Britons, hangers-on, wannabes and hipster morons all cheering England to victory.”

    Way to go squizz – alienate your readers by insulting them.
    Having an unpopular view & giving reasons to back it up is OK, but to suggest that anyone who doesn’t buy in to your choice can go fuck themself, and describe them as hangers-on, wannabes and hipster morons , shows conclusively that the moron in the room is in fact, you.

    There are now two voices talking about TFC for me to ignore. Congrats – you’re now reviled as much as that ignoramous on SunTV.

    • Actually, Ernest, I think that when I make blanket statements like “such-and-such group can go fuck themselves”, I’m paying my readers a compliment, by presuming that they have the intelligence to tell the difference between a genuine mass insult and a bit of hyperbole sprinkled into a blog post for dramatic (albeit crass) emphasis.

      I dunno, maybe I’m wrong.

      • A nudge and a wink, or an internet smiley following an obviously crass remark works in some cases, but when you don’t move off of the point, and press it home with well thought out rationalizations, you show that you did actually mean it. Saying I’m not smart enough to see that you were actually kidding doesn’t soften the insult at all.
        If you were trying to be smart, you failed. It wasn’t funny.

      • I’m just surprised you find an instruction to go fuck yourself to be such an insult. Most people consider masturbation to be a rather pleasurable activity.

  7. I’m with the US, not only for that game but for the whole tournament, they’re the only team on which I know all the players. And they’re our neighbors!

    • I think it’s only fair to support all of our neighbours. Up the Greenland!

      (Does Greenland have a national soccer team?)

  8. Casual Soccer Fan Says:

    I have no familial connections to Britain – rally for the New World against the Old!

    Great, eloquent post.

  9. I have always agreed with this argument you present Squizz even though I don’t like it very much. That, and I can’t stand the Canadian media portraying England and English clubs as the de facto “home team”. In conclusion, go USA (with hand plugging nose).

    • Really good point about the Canuck media portraying England as the “home” team — I think that has to do both with the traditional “ah, we have to hate the USA” nonsense argument, along with the fact that England is synonymous with soccer, while the USA is still developing.

      If the USA pulls the upset on June 12, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Canadian media suddenly adopting the “inspiring underdog” approach to covering the USA team.

  10. Myles B Says:

    To Hell with Buddle, someone else from our team will be playing…Maurice Edu! Oh, and thanks for the grass pitch!

    • You’re, of course, right. But being a completely masochistic Toronto sports fan (is there any other kind?) I figured I’d go with Buddle instead.

  11. […] some canadian guys writing about soccer a canadian perspective on the beautiful game « England v. USA: Where do your loyalties lie? […]

  12. My loyalties, internationally, lie in this sequence in every sport:
    1) Canada (birth)
    2) Scotland (blood)
    3) England (blood)

    Everything else is favorites. I despise England just a little for Owen Whatshisgraves, but I can’t help it.

    That being said, there isn’t a nation in the world I’d pick over Canada under any circumstances and I still scratch my head in bewilderment to those who were, at least, born here and wouldn’t support them too.

    • I, of course, agree with you 100%., though I often find myself surrounded by folks for whom the exact opposite holds true. But Canadian soccer needs more folks with this approach (regardless of which countries happen to occupy spots #2 and #3 on their personal lists).

      .

  13. I just personally enjoy it when the English get thumped at anything. They always turn it into such a media bloodbath with accusations and blame flying around everywhere. Plus, I think there is still way too much arrogance coming from such a small island.

    • Good point. I kinda get the same feeling any time Canada crashes out of a big hockey tournament… I mean, as a fan, sure, I’m disappointed… but to see the talking heads go into such unfettered apoplexy, as they wail about the death of Canadian culture as we know it… you can’t help but smile.

    • in response to jeff who likes to see the arrogant English fail; how exactly are we arrogant? we happen to have won world championships in all three of our primary national sports and thus have high expectations. in football we have been in the worlds top ten pretty much forever with a couple of blips. anything short of quarter finals this summer would be a failure, anything more a success. do i sound arrogant?

      i’ll assume you are a canadian of british (non english) or french heritage whose family have force fed you this anti English bile which you have appeared to lap up.

      bollocks to ya.

      • Hi 3lions,

        Trust me, there is little anti-English sentiment in Canada when it comes to soccer. And while this isn’t directly related to your response to Jeff, it’s important that you understand the intent of this post is not to be anti-English either. You have no idea how frustrating it is being Canadian and supporting Canadian soccer in the face of hostility from other Canadians who hate the sport and the many immigrants who love the sport but refuse to support Canada. We simply want the U.S. to succeed to prove that we can play the game on this side of the pond too.

        England is the marquee match for the U.S. in the group stage. It could have been Brazil, Italy, the Netherlands or any other traditional power, so please don’t take it personally.

  14. WestCoastToffee Says:

    This is a tough one for me. I, with all of the associated pain, cheer for Canada first. My parents emigrated to Canada from Liverpool – so obviously I have the English blood that you speak of, and my club team (perhaps the nickname gave it away) is Everton FC.

    Cheering for England allows me to honour my roots; even though save for Leighton Baines (if he makes the final squad), at a club level I despise most of the wankers on this team!

    Cheering for the US allows me to support the development of North American soccer and also allows me to give a nod to Tim Howard and Landycakes – who had a wonderful loan spell with Everton.

    I’m probably leaning towards England just so I can continue speaking with my Dad – but I certainly wouldn’t be devastated if the US won.

  15. @Grant

    i have no problem with anyone supporting Englands opposition, least not for the reasons stated by the OP. what i hate is the clueless hyperbole some people come out with when accusing the English of being arrogant! the scots, welsh and irish are forever jumping on that wagon, they have an inferiority complex so accuse us of being arrogant. in two of the three sports we play in England, Australia have for the most part been better than us, as Englishmen that hurts, and the aussies do tend to go on about it but thats bragging rights and not arrogance! in football, historically we live in the shadow of Brazil, Italy & Germany! when do you ever hear of the English calling them arrogant? you dont.

    calling us arrogant hurts their pride a little less than having to admit we have a better team than them. because i believe England has a realistic chance of winning the world cup im called arrogant by my fellow Brits and mostly americans, even though i think there are at least two nations with a better chance.

    i often meet Canadians at England games so i know Canada as a whole is not anti English but some people just spout nonsense.

  16. […] Some Canadian Guys’ aversion to the Honduran football team is as well documented as our support for the U.S. national […]

  17. USA, baby !!! i don’t think england stands any chance of winning this match. The yanks are fired up on all cylinders and england has always remained a hype of every 4 years. I’m born american, raised in canada and when it comes to soccer, the US comes foremost to me. My canadian kids look up to american footballers. Canada is never in question because it has an umbilical cord attached to england, and as long as that’s there, nothing will change in canadian soccer. I look for the US to pull a feat very similar to the one they dished out against luis figo and portugal. they will repeatedly get behind the porous english backline. USA wins 3-0, and before u call me nuts, just know that i was called that when i said before the spain game that US was going to beat spain. this side is the real deal, and the english will find out the hard way.

  18. […] post until I noticed that, in true World Cup fashion, everybody else had already written it. The Canadian guys went in the tank for the United States back inMay. On the Voyageurs board, hotbed of both Canadian […]

  19. […] Many Canadian bloggers have been calling for all Canadians to support the Americans… in fact Squizz went as far to say, “So, to be clear: if you have English blood in you, and you would support […]

  20. I Will be hoping for any place but england to win,
    im from the island of ireland and wouldint support anything english or anglo-saxon.
    if Scotland was in the Game [perferably Celtic id be Cheering them on] same with Afganistan
    anywhere but england even tho my Grandmothers [mother mum] family was English
    i wouldint support anything english [of any kind] not even there stinking fish and chips i would only ever eat and drink anything produced on the island of ireland and fish from our waters [even tho dont really like fish]. long live the irish republic [of all 32 counties] and down with england and the english and their Queen may the english Fail misterby.

    Good Friendship Across the Water to the Scots, Welsh
    and French, Canadians and Americans by the Way.

    Good Luck in the world cup against england
    the teams who are playing.

  21. […] Group B matchup, and I’ll get to those shortly. But after generating much ballyhoo by expressing my unequivocal support of the Yanks in their underdog fight against the Three Lions, I’d be remiss not to chime in a little more […]

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