Bruce Springsteen — Born In The U.S.A.

Vinyl, LP, Album, 1984

In the past four World Cups, I’ve rooted for England.

I woke up at 1:30 in the morning on June 8th, 2002. I know the date because I have Google, but I know the time because no one wakes up at 1:30 in the morning unless they’re obsessed. And I was. I was obsessed.

This was during my brief dalliance in international soccer. I had a copy of FIFA Soccer 2002 and a borrowed Playstation 2, and those two things only cemented what drunk afternoons with Fox Sports World had begun a year earlier: an obsession with England, English football, and Liverpool. I had a Gerrard jersey when the team was all Owen. I learned the fight song. I rooted for the English national team as if it was my own.

At that time, it was all I really had in sports. The United States had a loose grasp on becoming an international power, so there was really no reason to worry about my native and adopted teams clashing in a final. I was still slowly coming off of a case of Anglophilia, and I was hoping this soccer business would help lengthen it.

And, 44 minutes into the game — a game against Argentina, a rival that had lost big, won big, and warred big — the most storybook thing happened: right before the end of the half, David Beckham — from, you know, when he was still a soccer star — bent it in on a penalty kick.

I still remember trying to be silent, in bed next to Kerrie, pumping my fist in excitement for that kick, for that goal, for that fancy little Brit who was in all of those commercials. I still remember the international pride I felt — and I felt it all the way through that World Cup. I bought an English flag to hang in front of any future home I might own. I doubled down on the idea that soccer could become a national phenomenon in the United States.

And, eventually, life set in. We moved, and I didn’t have Fox Sports World. I stopped following England, and Liverpool, and the entire sport.

I never flew that flag, but it’s still in the closet — a small reminder of the summer I was born in the United States, but in total love with England.