I remember trying to watch Brazil play a World Cup game in my buddy Bruce’s basement in 1974, a section promised on Wide World of Sports. But, like cutting short the last act on Johnny Carson sometimes, they didn’t have time to pull away from the cliff diving and other crap to show us but a few glimpses of the glorious game.

As TV coverage improved, I watched more games. I drove to Guadalajara in 1986 and San Francisco in 1994, both times to catch Brazil during the group stage and watch all the other games at bars and restaurants. Since the U.S. never made it during my lifetime, watching the WC became a bandwagon shuttle service for me. Teams dropped off, and I’d choose another among the victors. I’d cheer for the sport itself instead of a specific team. I began to believe in God’s boss.

So I always dig watching the WC because I never lose. Even with U.S. success, I still find myself shamelessly following whoever plays the best. With Pele, Brazil was my favorite as a kid. Now it’s the USMNT, with an odd nod to Mexico because they became my team in the 1980s and I play on two Mexican teams. CONCACAF made me proud this year. I cheered with the Ticos at The Three Lions downtown, a team that I believe became stronger because of Snow Clasico. Mexico and USA are definitely both better now because we have been kicking the crap out of each other for more than a decade. All boats rise.

Bigger than the two teams on the field, the game ultimately outshines everything. That’s why I’m really not too sad about Brazil’s 7-1 collapse. The game evolves. Brazil will come back. In the meantime, someone needs to come up with a new way to play like Spain did and the other Euros are doing now. Maybe the U.S. will crack the code and come up with something new. Or maybe we’ll become the chameleons who always adapt fastest to all the changes in the sport forevermore, always competing near the top and learning the next best thing in soccer.

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