THE ODD COUPLE
THE U.S. AND ENGLAND HAVE A STRANGE SOCCER RELATIONSHIP. THANKS TO THE SHARP INCREASE IN PREMIERSHIP GAMES ON AMERICAN TV, MANY U.S. fans admire English football. The English, meanwhile, tend to dismiss the U.S. as a soccer-playing nation. Case in point: An English newspaper's website did a minute-by-minute blog of the U.S.-Mexico match at the 2002 World Cup as if it were called by American commentators, who said doltish things such as, "Two soccer points to no score!" The satire was then mistakenly quoted as U.S. journalism by English TV commentator Gary Lineker. ¶ That's what makes the opening match in Group C—England versus the U.S.—so tantalizing. Besides bragging rights in the English-speaking world, the winner will have the inside track to the top spot in the group. While Algeria and Slovenia showed mettle in qualifying, they're clearly lagging in talent. Group C should belong to the Yanks and the Brits, two countries whose soccer relations may never again be the same.