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Brian Hall's World Cup blog: The two teams

June 23, 2014

The US Men's National Team celebrate against Portugal

By PRO Match Official Development Manager Brian Hall

The career of a referee has many peaks and a few valleys as does a 30-plus game season. For teams, it is the same. Thus far, the USA World Cup representatives - the national team and the Mark Geiger trio - have, in Brazil, lived the cavalcade of emotions associated with professional soccer. 

After two weeks and two performances, Mark Geiger, Sean Hurd, and Joe Fletcher have flown above the clouds with dynamic and meaningful performances. Performances of world-class officials. 

Time will tell whether the trio gets more opportunities to shine. But, regardless of what FIFA administrators decide, they have earned the right to lead two more teams onto the field. 

The USA national team began the tournament on top of the hill with a convincing victory over their World Cup nemesis, Ghana. Six days later, the journey exemplified the emotional ups and downs as Team America put up a valiant effort and battled Portugal to a last-second tie. 

The energy and passion of the USA national team fan base willed the team to two goals. Two goals that may not have been imaginable eight years ago. Chants of “We believe we can win, we believe we can win!” engulfed the fan fest even when USA were down. 

The beauty of the performances of both North American representatives is that it sends a strong and convincing message to the football world that soccer in America has arrived; that soccer in America is at a level on-par with nations that have a longer, more storied football history.

Look at the success of our referees and our team. Soccer has come so far. It has been and continues to be an amazing journey. A journey that the rest of the world is now realizing is a reality. Soccer is alive and well in the USA. Major League Soccer and the referees that service it are world class. 

This history and the passion of the supporters of the USA and the other competing nations has been on full display at every World Cup venue and at every World Cup viewing watering hole and party around the world.  

Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski

Having attended the England versus Uruguay match in São Paulo, the memories of the vibrant and pulsating World Cup in-stadium crowd was brought back to life. The excitement of every pass, every shot, and every giveaway can be felt. The tears of joy and sorrow follow the emotional roller coaster associated with every minute of every game. 

As one spectator said: "Watching a game on television falls short of really conveying the passion and electricity of attending a live game."   

In the stadium, the sea of supporter groups is amazing. Crops of red, blue, yellow, and green are visible on every level of the stadium. National unity is alive and well. Every attack to goal causes the supporting sections to raise their volume and to stand so they don't miss a touch. 

Chants of support and encouragement are a constant. As the game intensifies, so does the explosiveness of the two competing fan groups. Chants of support instantly turn into an ongoing off-the-field competition and rivalry matching that of the players on the field.

Which supporter group can scream the loudest? Which supporter group can out duel the other and drown out the opposing chants? The energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Over time, even the neutral observer wants to stand and join in the fun ruckus. 

As the US national team prepares for its final, deciding group match, let’s all put on our red, white, and blue and sing: “We believe we can win, we believe we can win”.  

Sing it until the final whistle is blown. Whether you are in the stadium or not, the players can feel the support and your chant may be the one that makes the difference.

As Mark, Sean and Joe wait for their next appointment, join PRO as well as the referee and soccer family in sending them encouraging vibes, because the wait to hear what the next step of the journey brings is often the hardest part of the trail. 

To Mark, Sean and Joe and the US National team: We believe in you, we believe you have won. You have won our hearts and our respect, as well as the respect of the rest of the world.

 

This is Brian Hall's third blog of his World Cup series. Visit proreferees.com next week for the fourth edition. 

Blog 2: An exceptional performance.


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