Powers: US may win World Cup some day

Curtis Powers

One thing I love about Iowa State is its international students. There were 3,017 international students enrolled in the fall of 2009, according to the ISU fact book. That is 10.8 percent of the total student population.

More than half of them are from China, 1,541. Other major populations include India, 358; South Korea, 215; and Malaysia, 128.

In my five years at Iowa State, I have had the privilege of meeting many people from many different nations. In fact, of the four best friends I have had here, two of them are international students.

One such good friend of mine is from Saudi Arabia. His name is Sulaiman. He came to America knowing no English at all. That’s probably why he spent 10 hours in O’Hare International Airport trying to explain why he was coming to America.

One thing I have enjoyed with Sulaiman lately is the World Cup.

I love the World Cup. I have since I started watching it in 1994, when it was hosted by America.

I even woke up at 3 a.m. in a hotel while on vacation to watch United States beat Mexico in the 16th round. That was back in 2002 when I was 15.

Speaking of 2002, most of you may not remember this, but the U.S. team also got the shaft that year. A German handball in the 50th minute kept the U.S. team from a tying goal in that quarterfinal match and ended up losing 1-0.

Anyway, I have enjoyed watching the World Cup with Sulaiman. This year, we happened to watch the United States-Algeria match together.

He, like many in the Arab world, was cheering for Algeria. They relished an opportunity to defeat the United States.

So when Landon Donovan scored, he was, like many Arabs, disappointed. But I, like many other Americans, was screaming and yelling in pure ecstasy.

It was definitely one of the most exciting sports moments in my life. It is certainly on par with Illinois’ comeback over Arizona in the 2005 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

I mean, I’m still watching replays of the goal. There aren’t too many things I watch over and over again, especially for the announcer’s call. I think Ian Darke might replace Gus Johnson as my favorite announcer after this. Andres Cantor is up there as well after his call of the goal.

That is why I think soccer is a sport that is finally here to stay in America. We have had some success in the past like the 2002 World Cup and the more recent Confederation’s Cup.

However, soccer still remained mostly in the background. A moment like this though will remain etched in many people’s minds for years.

Not just soccer fans either. Just normal sports fans. ESPN showed a graphic after the game showing stock trading on the floor was roughly 32 percent below normal trading volumes in the last 20 minutes of the game.

That’s astounding. I’m not saying soccer is going to suddenly supplant sports like football, basketball and baseball as the country’s favorite, but I think it has a chance to get up there. I think it can get to the point where more and more athletes choose soccer over basketball.

Can you imagine athletes like LeBron or Kobe playing soccer?

If that happens then we might do the unthinkable: actually win the World Cup. I certainly hope to see it happen someday.