Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

Some Thoughts on Arsenal, the World Cup, and the Red Sox

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We’re almost there. Only two more days until the big day. Today I want to share a few thoughts on a couple different subjects. There will be some Arsenal, some World Cup and even a little Red Sox.

In the Arsenal calendar year, June might be among the most frustrating times to be a Gooner. The season is over, and the transfer market is open. Well, open for everyone else it seems. There are hundreds of silly transfer rumors every day that I try to avoid, but inevitably get carried up with. Just this morning, I’ve seen reports linking us with Bernard, Sami Khedira, Nigel De Jong and Steven Caulker among others.

Sometimes, these reports are so mouthwatering that I want to believe them. The Sami Khedira rumor in particular has me seeing trophies lining up before my eyes. And I find that one piece of information – in this case, that Özil is known to be close friends with Khedira – that makes me believe it might just happen. But on the other side of that, some rumors – like the Caulker one – are so strange that I fear another Park Chu-Young signing. Please, Arsene, don’t sign Steven Caulker.

Regardless of what I hope or fear, Arsenal will not be signing any of these players anytime soon. Recent history suggests the good ones will sign for Chelsea – Juan Mata and Eden Hazard were both heavily linked with Arsenal before opting for the Blues – and us Gooners can go back to waiting for Wenger to figure out his plans once the market price for everyone has gone up. Maybe he’ll splash some cash, or maybe he won’t. But I’m fairly confident that none of the big stars linked with Arsenal this month will sign anytime soon.

I wish I could stop reading those articles, but they’re the only Arsenal ‘news’ out there, so I can’t help myself. I end up driving myself crazy with nightmares of Cesc Fabregas wearing blue. But as long as we make it through June and July without any major letdowns, I have faith that this will be a good summer for Arsenal. Until then, all I can do is worry and hope.

Now, to Brazil. Many people ask me for whom I will be rooting once, in their words, “When the U.S. is out.” After I tell them off for their lack of patriotism, I usually stall long enough for them to express their views instead of pressing me for mine. By this point, most people change the conversation, and I am safe. Safe from having to declare my secondary fandom. It’s a complicated question for me. For while many of the people that ask me will be rooting for the countries rather than the players, I will be rooting for great soccer.

Great soccer comes from the best teams, and as a result, I want to see the best teams and the best players do well. I would rather see a semifinals with Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina than one with lesser teams on exciting runs, with the exception of the U.S. So while I like rooting for an underdog in some sports, the World Cup is not where I do that. I want the games to be close, but I want the best players to decide the games with moments of brilliance.

I guess if you are going to force my hand at naming a second team that I will cheer for, I might say Germany. They will have the most Arsenal players, and I have a bit of German blood, so they would be the natural choice. But even so, I can’t rule out rooting for another team against the Germans should I so choose. I also enjoy teams that attack more, so I want to see teams like Italy and Japan do well.

Lastly, I want to say a few words about the Red Sox. They are struggling right now. It seems every time they take a step forward, they leap back three. But while this team is frustrating, these players have earned my trust that they will fight out of the hole they are in. These are the same players that continuously stepped up for big moments last year, and I expect them to try and do the same again this summer. Dustin Pedroia will heat up, Jake Peavy will win a second game, and at some point, they will start to pull things together.

This team’s struggles have reinforced how spectacular a season last year was. Everything that needed to go right, did. Every time I see Daniel Nava strike out nowadays, I think back to the player he was a year ago, and how lucky we were to have him hitting as well as he did. I thus can’t be disappointed with this team, because they gave everything to the championship run and delivered. For the rest of the summer, I will patiently wait for them to turn things around. I know things are different this year without Jacoby Ellsbury. But this group of players and the manager have earned my trust for the considerable future. The Red Sox will figure it out.

Have a great day, and check back tomorrow for some final pre-World Cup thoughts. Leave any comments and give me feedback as I try to make this blog the best it can be. Thanks for reading.

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