jermaine jones america

I didn’t know I cared that much. I really didn’t.

When Cristiano Ronaldo connected on an absurd crossing pass from roughly 50 yards out to a streaking Varela, who subsequently headed the ball past Tim Howard to give Portugal a 2-2 tie against America, my mind just went blank. I had nothing. I felt nothing. I knew nothing. Here I was, dressed in as much red, white and blue as I could possibly throw together in my admittedly limited American attire, down and out. Over a group stage game.

I wasn’t the only one. I was in a house full of people who probably were watching a soccer match in full for the first time in a long time. Yet, there was anguish to my left and misery on my right. The mood in the room was tense and borderline uncomfortable. I needed a moment, so I left the room to gather my thoughts.

I pulled my phone out and began doing what I usually do when I have a moment of downtime — I started scanning Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. There, I found anyone and everyone I knew also down and out. Angry. Sad. Confused. Delusional. First, there was Kenny draped up in the American flag looking like Captain America. Then, there was Tinsley worried that Ronaldo was going to take all of our women after assisting on that second goal. The Rev was over there relentlessly cussing Michael Bradley a new one. Then came the text messages and phone calls. People back inside the house worried that I’d jumped off the cliff.

That’s when it hit me. I officially love this U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. What’s more crazy is so do all of you.

Similarly with our women’s side, we’ve now come of age with these fellas. From Clint Dempsey being the first American soccer player that I’ve ever felt like could hold his own as a world-class attacking player to Tim Howard being the world’s best goalkeeper, we’ve gotten to know these guys. That’s why it stung so much to leave Landon Donovan at the crib, to be heartbroken when Jozy Altidore blew out his hamstring, and that’s why we’re as disappointed as we are when Bradley came up short when we needed him most. It’s become personal. We like these guys. We believe in them.

We’ve had experiences with this team now that I’ll never forget. The wars with our heated rivals down south in Mexico. (Dos a cero forever.) The 2009 Confederations Cup. Donovan’s game-winner versus Algeria. All of the losses to Ghana. John Brooks’ header. That’s just to name a few. We’re all invested in this.

So it was on a Sunday afternoon, in a game where the Stars and Stripes pulled a “here we go again” by giving up a gift goal early, to Jermaine Jones pulling off pure wizardry from outside the 18, to Dempsey belly-bumping the ball into the net, to Ronaldo being a jackass at the end, it was another experience I’ll never forget.

I love this team man. I really do. Now let’s go kick Germany’s ass on Thursday.