Sunday, June 18, 2006

Godspeed Team USA

I notice that the Gatorade commercial featuring the ABC World Cup show has been out for a few weeks now. But I just saw the commercial for the first time today during the game between USA and Italy, and it's brilliant.

In just 30 seconds, it really manages to capture worldwide soccer fans' passionate intensity, the truly hostile atmosphere that the Yanks often face when they play abroad, particularly in Latin America. Not to mention the courage it must take for our players to travel to and play in such venues. The rivalries and nationalism that pervade international soccer are, in my opinion, a primary part of what constitute the sport so much fun to follow.

One aspect that I enjoyed much about the Gatorade commercial is how it shows not only the hostility of opposing teams' fans toward the U.S., but also the U.S. players' reactions to the hostility. You see Keller, DJ, Donovan with looks of focused determination on their faces while listening to music, trying to block all noise of hatred out. And the look on Quaranta's face as he's sitting in the lockerroom and the fans are making so much noise that the ceiling tiles are bouncing up and down is priceless.

Finally, the goals and goal celebrations at the end are awesome in the way they capture the joy and exuberance of a critical goal. The rhythm of a soccer game, where both teams can struggle for an hour or more to score while the tension builds, only to be finally released when a goal is ultimately scored, is another part of what makes the game truly the beautiful game. And the background music is so much brilliant: "Take me out to the ball game", the song usually played in major baseball stadia here in the US.

When the US national anthem was sung before the game, the whole Kaiserlauten stadium echoed with US fans voice. They behaved like real world "football" supporters. They sang, they took on the ref. They lifted their team. Make no mistake, that was a game of football -- violent, passionate, hard fought and the U.S. contingent responded. Outstanding.

So hats off to Gatorade, for a terrific commercial. I hope they show it early and often in the World Cup.

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