All great things start in Philadelphia. Or so I've been told.
America was founded here. You (probably) live here. Boyz II Men did their thing here.
As if you needed another good omen for today's World Cup round of 16 showdown with Belgium (ESPN - 4 p.m.).
The short video tells the story, but the Cliff's Notes version is that a young JV cheerleader at the U.S. Naval Academy first shouted the chant at the 1999 Army-Navy football game at Veterans Stadium. Navy won that game, 19-9. So clearly, it worked.
Now, it's become the rallying cry and Twitter hashtag (#IBelieveThatWeWillWin) for the U.S. soccer team.
Some soccer-heads will bemoan the lack of creativity from U.S. fans. But in the same breath, they will rip fans who steal songs and chants from other countries.
So, sing it loud and proud on Tuesday, whether you're stuck in your cubicle, at your favorite watering hole (something other than Monk's Cafe, please), in your living room, or in the stadium in Salvador, Brazil.
As for the game. A few hot sports takes to remember as you cut out of work early to hit your favorite TV-laden watering hole (NOT MONK'S CAFE -- NO BELGIAN ALES -- NOT TODAY):
- Jozy Altidore is "healthy:" U.S. Soccer broke the news today that Jozy Altidore is "available for selection" today after injuring his hamstring in the opener against Ghana. I'm not sure what to think of this. On one hand, Altidore in the lineup changes EVERYTHING for the Americans, especially in the attack. His presence allows Clint Dempsey to play in a more comfortable position beneath the striker, it allows Michael Bradley to play a more comfortable defensive-minded position and it gives the Americans an outlet when they need to relieve the pressure Belgium is sure to exert. That being said...
- Altidore shouldn't start:U.S. Soccer's brazen "He is ready" announcement seems strange if Klinsmann DOESN'T plan on starting him. They're not obligated by any sort of rules (a la NFL injury reports) to say who is ready and who's not. Considering the grueling nature of this World Cup, you just can't risk the chance that you'll have to use one of three substitutions to replace an injured Jozy in the first half. Let him stay on the bench, and use him in the second half if needed.
- Marouane Fellaini has stupid hair: Seriously.
- Michael Bradley needs to show up: Bradley has not been his normal awesome self in the first three games, but he also hasn't been nearly as bad as some might have you think. Bradley has run nearly a full marathon over the first three games, and done plenty of things that go unnoticed, like stop more than a few passes bound for Cristiano Ronaldo against Portugal. If Bradley can help the U.S. control some possession against Belgium, maybe we won't have to wait 25 minutes to touch the ball like against Germany.
- Tim Howard will need to make 3 huge saves: Howard has been unreal so far, and will need to make at least three monster saves to keep the U.S. in the game.
- If the game goes to penalty kicks: I -- and many others -- will become violently ill.
- If there's a hero, it will be a new name: I have a hunch that Tuesday's "hero," if there is one, will be a name we've barely heard from in this tournament. Aron Johannsson comes to mind.
- The U.S. absolutely can win this game: The Belgians are very good. They were a trendy pick to win it all in some circles. But they snuck out of an easy group with one-goal wins over Algeria, South Korea and Russia. Don't try to tell me about the friendly last year that Belgium won 4-2. Belgium is very good and should be a strong favorite. But they are closer to Portugal in quality than they are to Germany.
- If the U.S. wins, prepare for a day you won't soon forget: The winner of this match will face Argentina or Switzerland on Saturday (July 5) at noon Eastern for a spot in the World Cup semifinals. The Americans are sorta playing with house money against Belgium, but if they were to face Lionel Messi and Argentina on Saturday, there would be nothing at all to lose. At noon. On a Saturday. On a holiday weekend. Sorry, soccer-haters, but that would be an event to remember in this country.
- Prediction Time: Obviously I have a rooting interest here. But I really do think the hold-on-for-dear-life performance against Germany will not be repeated against Belgium. Michael Bradley can only play better, the weather in usually hot Salvador seems like it'll manageable, and Altidore's presence should make a difference for the U.S., whether it's early in the game or late in the game. USA 2, Belgium 1 in extra time.