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June 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Why I’m excited about World Cup soccer coming to Seattle

My best friend’s husband recently started a co-ed rec soccer team. I joined. We’re on turf every Wednesday. Win or lose, watching or playing — everyone has a great time. I always think to myself, “Dude. Soccer rocks.” The sport is also a global phenomenon that cuts across political, language and cultural barriers.

U.S. national team soccer players, including forward Eddie Johnson, center, kick the ball as they warm up before a practice session at CenturyLink Field, Monday, June 10, 2013, in Seattle. The U.S. will face Panama on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, for a World Cup qualifier soccer match. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

U.S. national team soccer players, including forward Eddie Johnson, center, kick the ball as they warm up before a practice session at CenturyLink Field, Monday, June 10, 2013, in Seattle. The U.S. will face Panama on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, for a World Cup qualifier soccer match. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

That’s why I’m excited to take my dad to CenturyLink Stadium tonight to see the U.S. men’s team face Panama in a World Cup qualifier match. I don’t think he has been on the sidelines of any sporting event since my weekend soccer games in middle school. Tuesday’s game will mark his first time watching live professional soccer since he arrived in the United States in 1979. Back in his native Vietnam, soccer is the national pastime. (My soccer-crazed grandfather keeps a television set in his rural farmhouse outside Ho Chi Minh City for the sole purpose of watching games.) When my parents were both teachers in Saigon, they lived right across from Cong Hoa Stadium, renamed Thong Nhat Stadium after the fall of Saigon. They became regular spectators of soccer games at the 25,000-capacity venue. Throughout the 1970s, friends and family members would meet at their apartment before walking over to the field to cheer on visiting teams. Another time, my dad took students from his school to a sister school in Da Lat to play in a soccer tournament. It was a big deal for the kids. He refereed a match between the teachers. His voice gets excited and his face really lights up when he recalls those memories. 

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