Thursday, May 04, 2006

World Cup Prep. : Your soccer primer

As you may or may not know, this June I will leave this great land for foreign soil. The particular place of escape will be the country of Germany. It just so happens that simultaneously with my visit the World Cup of soccer will be occurring and I plan to attend a minimum of 3 games in said tournament. Some of you who do know me may have a hard time getting your brain around all this. You probably didn't know I was that big of a soccer fan (I'm not sure I am) or you have no idea what the big deal is. Some may want to give this soccer thing a try but really don't have any clue as to where to start. Well, I am by no means an expert, but there's a pretty good chance I'm going to beating you down with this stuff for the next couple of months --including, hopefully, blogging while in Germany and experiencing all the World Cup can offer-- so I'll do my best to give some insight.

First, some basics about the tournament. It happens every four years and consists of 32 teams representing their country. I should probably mention that this current World Cup has actually been going on since September of 2003. That's why you will hear soccer types refer to this as the World Cup finals. Back then, there were 194 teams. This should give some perspective to those who think qualifying should be a given for the U.S. or any other team. All the various qualifying segments got us down to the teams that have since been divided into 8 groups of 4. Two teams from each group will move on after the round-robin phase to play in a 16 team, single-elimination tournament for the very underwhelming trophy pictured above. So, each team is guaranteed at least 3 games. I, myself, will be at each of USA's first round games and hopefully return to my native land to watch their run to the cup. Ok, most likely I'll be watching Brazil's run to the cup, but what are we if we can't hope and dream? I can’t wait.

Look for future episodes on topics like, "players to watch", "teams to look out for", and "Meet the US National team." I bet you can’t wait, either.

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