A pep talk for our fine friends from the UK

Fri, Jun 11
United States Geoff Burke/US PresswireU.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, defender Carlos Bocanegra and forward Landon Donovan are ready.

Dear Team England,
No pressure. None whatsoever. Even if you lose Saturdays World Cup match against the United States -- a contest you absolutely, positively ought to win, and of course, you already know that, because everyone knows that, meaning all of your countrymen and the rest of the whole wide world, most of whom will be watching, except maybe the guys on Buckingham Palace guard duty -- everything will be just fine, remain exactly the same.

Honest. Really. Trust us on this.

Look, it's not as though you're attempting to atone for 50 years of Cup futility. It's more like 44. Your national press would never, ever overreact to a soccer loss. Same goes for your levelheaded, always supportive, totally rational fan base. Such a forgiving, good-natured bunch! Drop a World Cup match to a group of Americans, and there's no chance people will still be talking about it more than a half century later. The day will not live in infamy, forever tarring your personal and collective legacies, a symbol of your nation's once-proud empire, now languishing in deep, irreversible decline. Nope. No worries there.

Oh, and did we mention that you're heavily, heavily favored? Because you are. On paper, this is a laugher. Your roster is a Premier League who's who. Meanwhile, Team USA's side is a group of international vagabonds and MLS standouts. (Come to think of it, kinda like Beckham). Sure, your defense looks a bit suspect, and your team chemistry is possibly amiss thanks to ego and WAG drama. Whatever. You still have Rooney. You're the home of football. We have Freddy Adu Donovan. Also, we call it soccer. Seriously, how can you lose?

In fact, the pressure is all on this side of the pond. For you, soccer -- there's that word again! -- is everything. The alpha and omega. Way, way more important than cricket. Think of how awesome it will be if you win! Life itself depends on it! For us, on the other hand, the beautiful game is just another appetizer at a crowded sports buffet, creaking under the weight of baseball, college football realignment, the NBA Finals and Where's LeBron? As such, our national team has to toss and turn and suffer countless sleepless nights knowing that if they lose to a clearly superior English side -- you got that part, right? -- it will be a source of enduring national focus and attention, shame and disappointment. Well, at least until Stephen Strasburg pitches again. Which is supposed to happen on Sunday.

Anyway, we'd like to leave you with a little bit of friendly advice. Relax. Smile. Have fun out there. Dance like no one's watching. The world is your oyster. Above all, don't choke. This isn't Wimbledon or anything.

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