I love my country.
That love is tempered by my primary loyalty to the Lord's Kingdom, but I care deeply and passionately about my country. Most of the more obvious forms patriotism - nationalism, Toby Keith, an uncritical support of our country (but only during Republican administrations) - are not really my thing. But the one place I can be unabashedly nationalistic is with the National Soccer team, who beat Mexico 2-0 today to clinch a place in the 2006 World Cup.
When the US competes internationally in most sports, the biggest question is usually how much they will win by, or how many Americans will medal. I loved watching the US sprinters win medal after medal in last month's World Track Championships, although I can't say I was surprised very often. But with soccer, the US can be somewhat of an underdog, at least in the big games, and this allows me root unabashedly for my country, and I like that a lot.
US/Mexico matches are big - really big, and today, the guys played really well. The US showed an unprecedented control of the midfield and a quick passing game. I was amazed at how much better we are on the ball from just four years ago. Today, I was most impressed with veteran forward Brian McBride, who must have won 80% of the balls in the air, and defender Oguchi Onyewu. A newcomer to the team, Onyewu marked Mexico's star forward Jared Borghetti right out of the match.
So tonight I can shout, without irony - USA! USA! USA!