And here we are.
The 2018 World Cup is just a day away and there sits our beloved American team (for the first time since 1986) on the outside looking in. This year, there is no speculating about our group or waking up early for watch parties to cheer on our boys or getting the nation to fully fall in love with Christian Pulisic.
But it is time to trade our grief for excitement as we temporarily table any thoughts of how the U.S. men’s national team will change over the coming years and, instead, pick a new team to emotionally invest in for the next month. Now is the time to enjoy the beautiful game — which has start times of 5 a.m. and sounds like a great way to start the day.
If you are the type of person who needs a team to invest in, look no further because here is your handy guide to find who you should cheer for based on local teams that you already know and love.
If you are a fan of Elkton …
… then you should be cheering for Iceland!
Let’s put some perspective on this. The city of Portland has nearly double the population of the country of Iceland. The undersized country Iceland is certainly the Elkton of the world stage. Its small size didn’t stop Iceland from stealing the world’s heart at the 2016 Euro Cup and qualifying for its first-ever World Cup appearance. Both teams scrap and claw for everything.
The only difference is, when it comes to Iceland, there is just a lot more overhead clapping.
If you are a fan of Yoncalla…
…then you should be cheering for Senegal!
You’ve had some success in the past (Senegal made the quarterfinals in 2002!) but it is unclear what the fate of the team really is. How far can they really go? Ranked 28th in the world, they could spoil the group play for Colombia or Poland but could also could get bounced before the real tournament begins.
If you are a fan of North Douglas…
…then you should be cheering for Argentina!
Much like the Warriors of North Douglas, Argentina’s team is a mix of a decorated past (World Cup champions in 1978 and 1986!) in addition to a team that is a threat to make a deep tournament run this year. In both instances, opposing teams instantly respect the classic uniforms and know that whoever is wearing them has to be taken seriously.
If you are a fan of Cottage Grove…
…then you should be cheering for Uruguay!
You have had success in the past (national champions in 1930 and 1950, Cottage Grove swim team dominance in the 1980s and other championships sprinkled in) and have some explosive pieces on your team right now. But at the same time, both teams have those who doubt them and their ability to make a deep run. Some of the pieces are there for both teams and it’s just a matter of putting them altogether.
If you are a fan of Oregon State football…
…then you should be cheering for Saudi Arabia!
These teams are nearly one in the same and not for the best reasons. Much like OSU, this Saudi Arabia team is overmatched. Coming into the World Cup they are ranked 70th in the world which is the lowest of the 32 teams playing. Both teams know a good deal about finishing at the bottom of the standings. More than performance on the field, what is most striking is that in the last year, both of these teams have had three different head coaches within the last year. But you know, hey — maybe this is the year they turn it around?
No? Okay, moving on.
If you are a fan of UO football…
…then you should be cheering for Sweden!
Sweden and Oregon football: The eternal bridesmaids.
• Neither team has won the big game but have both come agonizingly close (Sweden has been to the semifinals four times in their history)
• Both teams are searching for their identity after the departure of a star (Marcus Mariota’s graduation/Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s retirement from international play in 2016. Though to be clear, the parallels in this stop right there because Zlatan comes off in interviews as 100 percent arrogant while Marcus is just 100 percent perfect.)
• Thinking they maybe have that star (Justin Herbert/Emil Forsberg) but are ultimately unsure of how they can deliver.
So if you are into a small taste of success and an unsure future, look no further than each of these teams.
(Would like to note that this has nothing to do with Sweden’s vanilla jerseys. If this list was based off jerseys, UO would most certainly be Nigeria for their majestic green zig-zag jerseys that sold out as soon as they went up online. Over three million have been sold.)
If you are a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers….
…you should be cheering for England!
Do you dwell upon that one time you won a championship over 40 years ago? Do you enjoy having your heart ripped out? Do you try to lower your expectations on how the team will do only for them to do just good enough so that you think that maybe they really are for real and in this moment of hope-filled weakness they then crush your very soul with a painful loss?
Wow, this feels just a little too on the nose.
And there you have it, your 2018 guide to the World Cup. If none of those teams do the trick for you and you are really holding out to cheer for U.S. men’s national team, the 2022 World Cup is just 1622 days away.
Qatar here we come!