The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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June 27, 2014

U.S. yanked into World Cup's Round of 16

— SELINSGROVE — It was a pizza and “futbol” party Thursday at Susquehanna University’s James W. Garrett Sports Complex.

Nearly 100 children were gathered around two televisions as they used their lunch break from soccer camp to watch Team USA take on Germany in World Cup action.

“We called it ‘World Cup Day,’” said Susquehanna men’s coach Jim Findlay, who runs the camp. “We focused a lot of the drills and the games around the World Cup. They chose country names as their teams. Every chance we got, we tried to get the USA chant going. And the kids really responded to it.”

Thursday was the final day for the camp, and it would have been Team USA’s final game. But despite the Yanks’ 1-0 loss, they advanced to the Round of 16 thanks to Portugal’s 2-1 victory over Ghana. The Americans are 1-1-1 in Brazil.

Watching the game Thursday, the campers cheered every time the Americans got the ball deep into Germany’s zone — and breathed a sign of relief whenever U.S. keeper Tim Howard made a save.

(They also got excited when Portugal first pulled ahead of Ghana in the other game.)

“They’re my favorite team,” said 9-year-old camper Sophie Kilbride, of Lewisburg. “Germany is a really good team. ... It would be awesome if we beat them.”

That didn’t happen. But Findlay says that cheering on the Americans was only part of the reason for having the game on.

“As a coach, I’m always encouraging our players at the college level and in camps to watch the game,” Findlay said. “Watch the players who play your position.”

Sophie said that she was learning by watching the world-class players in Brazil.

“They really spread out and they pass really well,” Sophie said.

Rowen Martin, from Lewisburg, was also picking up a few things. A defender himself, Rowen said his favorite player is U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez.

“He contains, he doesn’t lunge,” said Rowen, 10. “And if he does lunge, he gets back and continues to contain.”

Thursday’s 1-0 loss contained some silver linings for the U.S.: Not only did the squad still advance, but the defense played well enough to keep the deficit to one goal despite Germany’s high-powered offense.

Ella Magee, 9, of Kratzerville, credited the defense for America’s victory over Ghana in its 2014 World Cup opener.

“We played defense the whole time,” she said.

Although there was no victory (and no goals) for the Americans on Thursday, the campers at Susquehanna were prepared. When asked what he would do if the Americans scored, Rowen said, “probably dog crawl around here.”

Sophie’s plans were simpler.

“I would scream and yell and run around the room.”

 

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