A guide to who to cheer for now that the U.S. is out of the World Cup


USA fans at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and the rest of the U.S. contingent may be out of the World Cup this year, but there are still eight other teams to root for. Seriously, don’t let “I don’t care who wins!” be your mantra for the next 11 days. Instead, peruse the list of options based on your interests to find the team that’s most suitable for your new favorite chant: “I believe that {insert country here} will win because, hey, even though the U.S. is out, I still have World Cup fever and want to cheer for something!”

PROXIMITY TO THE STATES

Here’s an easy means to figure out where to pledge your allegiance — distance from the home team! That leaves you with Costa Rica, the sole survivor this World Cup that represents the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF.

SUREST THING

Look, no one likes being disappointed, so why not cheer for the team most likely to win? That’s Brazil, which FiveThirtyEight gives a 40 percent chance of winning the whole thing, compared to the next team most likely to succeed, Argentina, which has just a 17 percent chance of winning. Plus, Brazil has Neymar. He’s in the running to score the most goals this World Cup and he’s basically the coolest dude of all time.


(Stringer/Brazil/Reuters)

NO, LIONEL MESSI IS THE COOLEST DUDE OF ALL TIME

Point taken. Messi has proven to be one of the best under pressure. If not his last-minute goals, which led Argentina to sail through the group round, then it’s a late assist to a well-placed teammate that led the group to their quarterfinal. Yes, there’s a reason the term “Messi magic” exists and it’s because Messi magic really does exist. They don’t call him the best in the world nothing.

IF THEY’RE GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT THE U.S., THEN THEY’RE GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT EVERYONE

For those hoping to justify the U.S. loss by seeing the team that beat us beat everyone else, too, then Belgium is the obvious choice. Beware, however, this is risky choice. FiveThirtyEight gives this team just a 3 percent chance of winning. At least the watch party might have some decent beer and waffles, though.

YOU KNOW WHAT SOCCER NEEDS? MORE DANCING.

If you agree with that statement, then you will love cheering for Colombia. The team has been killing it with their choreographed goal celebrations, which all seem to involve dancing in some way, especially if they’re toed in by star James Rodriguez, whose known simply by his first name, pronounced Ha-Mez.

BEST HAIR, PLEASE

While a few players, such as Belgium’s Afro-topped Marouane Fellaini and Brazil’s curly-haired David Luiz have some pretty great World Cup hair, the two players remaining in the tournament with the best cuts are France‘s Paul Pogba, Bacary Sagna and Mamadou Sakho. We dare you to find bolder hairdos than these in the quarterfinals.


Paul Pogba (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Bacary Sagna (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Mamadou Sakho (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

IF YOU LOVE THE VILLAINS

In that case, you’ll love the Netherlands. As you may recall, this team squeaked into the quarterfinals thanks to a controversial move from Arjen Robben, who got a penalty kick after the referee booked Mexico’s Rafael Marquez with a yellow card inside the box. Many called Robben out for play-acting, charging that the Dutchman flopped. The penalty kick won the match for the Netherlands at the last minute and instead of cheers, most people reacted by feeling heartbroken for Mexico. You can bet there will probably be some boos for Robben and his team Saturday at 4 p.m.

IF YOU LOVE BEER

You’ll want to cheer for Germany, of course. You may have to BYO-beer stein to the viewing party you attend.


(Darren Staples/Reuters)

 

 

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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