Let's assume you're going to watch the World Cup because 1. you want to 2. ESPN is forcing you to or 3. Bono makes you feel like a chump if you don't. But if you're looking for some closer-to-home motivation, here's a desert-grown reason to give it a shot. Robbie Findley, a speedy 24-year-old forward.
Never heard of him? This Shadow Mountain graduate was named First Team All-State in 2002 and 2003, broke the school record for goals in a season with 27 his senior year. Findley played club ball with Arizona-based national powerhouse Sereno SC, where he won ... well, just Wikipedia him; he did quite well.
Findley followed up his prep career by choosing to matriculate at Oregon State:
"I wanted to play in the Pac-10. A few of my cousins, Mike Bibby (Arizona basketball and NBA point guard), Shaun McDonald (Arizona State football and NFL wide receiver) and Ryan Walcott (UCLA basketball) all played in the Pac-10. The Pac-10 is a real strong conference so if I wanted to play somewhere, I wanted it to be among the best."
Well, well ... it also appears Findley was a member of one of Arizona's royal families of sport, Thanksgiving with Eddie House! Findley also did well as a Beaver; you can Wikipedia this, too.
Drafted by LA Galaxy out of college, Findley hit his stride after a trade to MSL's Real Salt Lake. Be sure to check out the RSL Soapbox for in-depth coverage (i.e. they actually know what they are talking about over there).
Robbie plays best when the stakes are high and when the match is on the biggest stages, one only has to look at the MLS Cup run RSL made last year. It was the late goal at Rio Tinto by Robbie that gave RSL the 1-0 win, and then in the return leg he scored the goal that once again gave RSL the lead in the series and eventually would put them into the Eastern Conference final.
Just hours before the scene I described at the start of this post, it was Robbie Findley whose team was down 1-0, whose team had lost Javier Morales (their creative playmaker) before the match was 30 minutes old, whose team lost Will Johnson (the teams high energy, attack every ball guy) at halftime, whose team was facing the Goliath of MLS, but none of that phased Robbie Findley as he evened the match at 1-1, none of that phased Robbie as he stepped to the spot during the PK shootout, and as Robbie Findley etched his name in the memory of many Major League Soccer fans.
From Real Salt Lake coach, Jason Kreis:
"Robbie is a clutch performer. He came on at the right time for us near the end of the season. He's a fantastic forward and can become one of the best the league has ever seen."
This playoff run and championship raised Findley's profile, but he became a legitimate contender for the World Cup roster with when US starter Charlie Davis was badly injured in a car crash.
US coach Bob Bradley announced the final roster on May 29th, saying this about his speedy forward:
"His speed when he comes into a match, his willingness to try and run behind a defense; we felt that those are things that when we looked at everything our team had, we could still use some of those qualities."
In the one of the final tune-ups for the World Cup Findley impressed with his speed and aggressiveness.
Again from RSL Soapbox:
Many pundits and commentators were quick to proclaim his arrival during the Turkey match, where he made a couple great plays. Those same people were quick to point fingers when he failed to convert a couple chances against the Aussies just days later. What none of them have told you, or perhaps they simply haven't noticed it yet, in both of those matches the speed and attacking style of Robbie forced the other team to change how they played. It caused both the Turk's and the Aussie's to keep their defenders back instead of pushing so high, that created more room for the US midfielders to move and create chances, and in both cases the end result was US wins. It is this ability that has all long made me think that Robbie Findley would be part of the 2010 USMNT that would be in South Africa, speed kills, but in this case speed changes everything as you have to play the threat. The English would be good to pay attention to that before the match starts, if not it might just come back to bite them in the end.
Okay, young, home-grown, Pac-10, exciting, fast as greased lightning forward on the world's biggest sports biggest stage not enough for you? Then you are destined to a life of being chronically disappointed. Kidding. Well actually, you are, sorry. So I'll just leave you with a nice quote from Robbie:
"This is something you dream of growing up, watching all your role models playing in the World Cup. To be a part of it now speaks to a lot of hard work that I've put in, a lot of things I've been through and a lot of the people who helped me get to where I'm at now. I just feel very blessed and thankful."
For more coverage, check out RSL Soapbox.
For your fill of World Cup Coverage, check out SB Nation.
And this for your viewing pleasure/mob inspiration.
Nurnberg "Oh when the Yanks go Marching In" (via gusaluphagooner)