My Divided Loyalty: USA v. Deutschland

Who do I root for?

Who do I cheer for?

It is at times like these that I question my identity. Am I an American? Am I becoming German? Or am I something in between? And on Thursday night my identity will be split for one hour and thirty minutes as Germany and the US battle it out to move on to the Achtelfinale of the World Cup.

I love football. As a child, my first team experience was on the football pitch. Wearing purple and gold reversible jerseys, my teammates and I bunched together, unable to move the ball anywhere towards the goal. The more our coach screamed at us, “Stop Bunching!” the tighter the pack around the ball became. It took a season for our troop of 2nd graders to figure out how to play.  We stayed together until our 10th grade year of high school.

Eventually football became my game. In fact, you could say that my growing up was defined by it.   Those years were punctuated by three months of games as the weather turned from summer to fall to winter. The game strengthened my friendships and my ability to work with others.   It strengthened both my physical and mental stamina. No one will forget those slide tackles on fields covered in Canadian Goose droppings or the freezing rain and wind during playoff games with teammates on the sideline huddled in garbage bags for warmth.

I was single-mindedly devoted to football, no other sport really interested me. And this is where I seem to resemble a German. In America, kids are pushed to be four season athletes. There are other sports in Germany, but nothing compares with football.  Seemingly, no child here overloads themselves with sports activities hoping to become a star. Children here devote themselves to one sport and usually that sport is football.

Preparing for Deuschland vs Ghana.

Preparing for Deuschland vs Ghana.

Living here in Germany I can get my fill of football. I know every player on the German squad, but I have to struggle to name two American players…Dempsey and ? I don’t follow any particular team closely, but I do have a love-hate relationship with Bayern-München. I equate them with the Yankees. I love the stars of the team, but hate the brand that the team name has become. And during the Bundesliga or Champions League finals I root for whoever is playing against Bayern.

And don’t think that the German’s are happy about this match up on Thursday.  They love Klinsmann.  The idea that a German football hero could pull together a ragtag group of players and make them into a world class team is very appealing to them.   Germans want to see Klinsi succeed, but not at the cost of their own team losing their chances for their place in the Achtefinale.

Who should I choose to support on Thursday night? The team I know and love? Or the team that represents the country where my love of football began?

From Joschka Klein-Bühler's post on Facebook's Soccer Memes.

From Joschka Klein-Bühler’s post on Facebook’s Soccer Memes.

Who will you root for this Thursday? What is your favorite football memory?


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9 replies

  1. That’s so awesome that you started playing football as a child – I think it’s probably now an option for girls in the UK, but it certainly wasn’t when I was at school!

    It’s an easy decision for me tonight: the Mini Dietz and I will be supporting Germany now England’s out (and my husband would kill me if we didn’t 😉 ) It’s such a relief not to have to worry about England any more 😉 My friends find it very hard to believe I can root for Germany because England fans see them as their greatest rival – they have no idea that the feeling isn’t mutual! I’m looking forward to tonight’s game though and will be watching it with both Germans and Americans. Come on Germany! 😉

    • The first year I lived here was WM 2010. An Irish colleague continued to harass me not understanding why I was so pro-Germany, when the US was in it too. And he had lived in Germany for over 20 years. I think for him it was the same, he loves his life in Germany, but when it comes to football, Germany was the bad guy.

  2. I naturally always want Germany to win, but I always pick out some “secondary teams” to support…for group G I initially leaned towards Ghana to score second place, but seeing how the US team fought for every point, and how Ghana basically squandered their chances away, I was hoping for the US team in the end, and I hope that they will give Belgium some challenge.
    Who knows, perhaps Germany and USA will meet again in the finals….unlikely, but it would be kind of fun, right?

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