Last night, in a 1-1 draw with Jamaica, the U.S. men's national soccer team completed the next-to-last round of qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. They had already assured themselves of advancing by beating Panama 6-0 in the previous match.
My support for the team -- I've been a fan for more than 20 years -- comes at the cost of some liberal guilt. The U.S. is far stronger in every respect than the countries whose teams it plays, especially those in the North American and Caribbean region for qualifying for the World Cup. The only thing Costa Ricans had over us for decades -- the only thing they could rely on to pay us back for using their country as a CIA staging area against the Sandanistas, among other things -- was that they kicked our asses in soccer. Now they don't.
To make matters worse, the sport is far more a point of national pride for them than it is for us. I mean, El Salvador and Honduras fought a war over a soccer match, for crying out loud! How many of you even knew the U.S. played Jamaica last night?
So the U.S. team hasn't lost in thirteen matches, the longest unbeaten stretch on record, and I'm not sure how good I should feel about it.