Going into the World Cup the chances that the US team would advance far or even move out of their “Group of Death” were slim. To keep things interesting it helps to adopt other teams to follow. Before the first flop of the tournament, I decided to go with Uruguay and the Netherlands as my alternative squads.
Uruguay was a potential South American dark horse to cheer for instead of the Argentina and Brazil. Little did I know that the “cannibal of Ajax” would once again feel the need to feed, this time sinking his teeth into Italian shoulder meat (which I understand is usually a little gamey). Without Suarez and his fangs, the Uruguayans were unable to get through the round of sixteen.
The case for the Netherlands was more straight forward. I have a number of Dutch work colleagues and have visited the country many times. And it’s hard not to love the look of the Orange.
In today’s WSJ, Almar Latour makes the case for US fans to go Dutch:
Like the Netherlands or not, I think you can legally claim victory in any case if we win. Your grandparents freed our grandparents 70 years ago, so without you guys there would be no Dutch team. We won't forget that.
We sort of speak the same language. The Netherlands is practically Anglophone, but when we speak we mix in some throat clearing every other sentence to keep up the appearance of having our own language. Here are some quick language essentials that may come in handy with Dutch soccer: "Dat is geen duik" means "that's not a dive."
Just for your convenience, many Dutch soccer players come pre-packaged with easy-to-remember names like "Wesley," "Nigel," "Daley" and, of course, "Memphis."
And before I forget: Linguists say that the word "Yankee" very likely derived from Dutch: Some say the word stems from "Janke", or little Jan, once a common name in the Netherlands and in New Amsterdam. Others say it derived from "Jan-Kees", a common first name. Either way, if you're a Yankee, you're practically Dutch already.
The only reservation I have with completely shifting my loyalties to the House of Orange is their opponent in Saturday’s quarterfinal contest: Costa Rica. The Ticos are definitely the underdog team of the World Cup (despite US claims to the label which are laughable when you consider that Costa Rica has 4.8 million people and the US 314 million) and no one expected them to get to where they are. And I also have work colleagues there as well and know how wrapped up they are in the fate of their squad.
But I guess I’m covered either way. If the Dutch crush the Costa Rican dreams or if the Ticos continue their improbable run, I’ll still have a squad in the hunt.