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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
USA vs. Algeria: A fan guide

By DJ Gallo
Page 2

Wednesday morning is the big match. At sports bars all across the country, soccer-crazed fans will cheer on the United States versus Algeria. Win, and the U.S. advances.

If you're still a bit new to this soccer thing, don't worry. Just follow these steps and you'll fit in and have a great time.

• Step 1: Dress the part

Red, white and blue clothing is usually reserved for old people and little kids. Chances are you're neither old nor a child. So you'll want to get some Team USA apparel before heading out to watch the match.

But don't borrow your grandmother's American flag sweater with embroidered stars and stripes -- although it is a sharp sweater! Consider plunking down a few bucks for a U.S. men's national team T-shirt or jersey. You might feel like a bandwagon fan while checking out, but think about it: You've been a USA fan from birth! You have documentation and everything.

• Step 2: Order a drink

You have to have a drink to get the full of experience of watching soccer. But don't order just any drink. Here are four options perfect for the U.S.-Algeria match.

The Landon Donovan: Order an American draft beer and garnish it with a lemon and all the hair you lost while waiting for your beer.

The Koman Coulibaly: Take a large cocktail glass and pour in two shots of bitters. Then top it with your three favorite alcohols. Finally, right before taking a sip, knock it off the bar so it breaks all over the floor. Then walk away and refuse to clean up the mess or explain what happened.

The Nadir Belhadj: Named for Algeria's best player, this drink is really just a Shirley Temple because alcohol is generally frowned upon in Algeria. But ordering a Nadir Belhadj sounds way cooler than ordering a Shirley Temple.

The Cristiano Ronaldo: Order the most expensive drink on the menu. But if anyone bumps you or even gets near you on your way back to your table, dramatically fall to the ground, start screaming and demand they pay for your drink.

• Step 3: Know some talking points

If the U.S. wins, enthusiasm over American soccer will reach an all-time high. If they fail to advance, it will be open season on the program again. So have some talking points loaded.

Michael Bradley
If they win: "Some people criticized Bob Bradley for picking his son for the team, but he knew Michael would run his system the way he wanted it run."

If they lose: "Nepotism doesn't work at this level of soccer. It just doesn't. There's no excuse."

Landon Donovan
If they win: "It's pretty much a fact now: Landon Donovan is the greatest U.S. soccer player of all time."

If they lose: "There's a reason this whiner is playing in the MLS. He's not on the same level as the top players in the world."

Tim Howard
If they win: "We've got the best goalie in the world."

If they lose: "Well, at least he's not Robert Green. Let me pull up that goal on my phone. Ha! Awesome. It will never get old."

• Step 4: Rip Algeria

The U.S. doesn't have a long rivalry with Algeria like we do with England. But maybe these facts can help you build up a healthy loathing for the match.

Their uniforms: Look at these things. It appears they hired the Seattle Seahawks uniform designer and let him go off his meds.

Their French background: Algeria has been independent from France since 1962. However, with France (amusingly) already out of the World Cup, America's anti-French energy must be directed somewhere. May as well be toward Algeria. Plus, there's no reason to punish yourself by avoiding French fries. You're at a sports bar, after all. You're a soccer fan, not a masochist.

Oil is their top export: Booooooooo, oil! (But could we maybe have some of it, Algeria? Please? Interested in a draw in exchange for, say, 1.5 million barrels? Oh, and to be clear -- we want the oil to actually be in the barrels and not all over the ocean. England got us with the fine print in our draw deal with them.)

• Step 5: Be nationalistic

Most every American is patriotic. But we usually don't act loud and obnoxious about it lest we earn the "ugly American" label. However, watching soccer is the exception. In fact, being loud and obnoxious while watching soccer is not only the exception, it's the rule.

But don't just wait until after a U.S. goal to chant "U-S-A! U-S-A!" There are many other good and appropriate opportunities. Like this:

Waitress: "Can I get you anything to eat?"

You: "I know you normally only serve breakfast now, but can I get some jalapeño poppers?"

Waitress: "Sure."

You: "With ranch dressing?"

Waitress: "Not a problem."

You: "And hot sauce?"

Waitress: "I'll put in your order."

You: "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

While this may seem obnoxious now, it will feel completely natural after knocking back a few Landon Donovans.

DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.


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