There’s no reason to rehash USA’s disastrous trip to Trinidad and Tobago and getting bounced from the 2018 World Cup.
Taking that very American mentality of making lemonade out of lemons, I suggest that all of America rally behind Team Iceland at the World Cup.
At this point you might be thinking, “Why the hell is Lou Hoffman playing this role? Is Iceland’s Soccer Federation in need of a news release that shows, not tells?”
Let’s start with the second question. No.
As for why me, I took the liberty of electing myself president of “Americans for Iceland.” More than words of inspiration — note that I’m staying away from the phrase “Let’s Make Iceland Great Again” — I’ll be flinging updates on Team Iceland’s exploits at the World Cup and other sundry Iceland-ish snippets over Twitter.
For those not familiar with Iceland’s soccer team, they deliver the type of underdog story that Americans love.
Think Rocky, Hoosiers and Rudy.
This is a country with a population of 300,000 and change. Bakersfield has more people and 7-Elevens than Iceland.
And they’re in the World Cup.
The word “pluck” comes to mind.
I have this theory that the more difficult it is to pronounce the name of a soccer player, the more likely the player will rise to the occasion. Take a look at a few of the player names that constitute its World Cup Roster:
That’s one reason to be optimistic about Iceland’s chances in Russia. This is a country that said, “We’ll do as we please with vowels.”
Iceland’s goalkeeper, Hannes Thór Halldórsson, also happens to be a filmmaker and got a gig with Coca-Cola to direct a commercial that packages the Iceland spirit in 102 seconds.
In spite of what emanates from the White House, Americans also like humble winners who start at the bottom and some how, some way, find their way to the top. Heck, one of Iceland’s coaches doubles as a dentist.
And make no mistake that regardless of what happens at the World Cup, Team Iceland is a winner. In case you weren’t paying attention to the 2016 European Championships, Iceland advanced to the quarterfinals — a performance that included a draw with Portugal and a win against the country that eats soccer for breakfast, England.
One last reason to get behind Iceland. The country exercises common sense in its youth programs for soccer. Real coaches — not parents with delusions of grandeur — guide the kids in the various programs. If you’ve intersected with youth sports in the U.S. over the past ten years, you can appreciate the enormity of the Iceland approach.
First up for Iceland, Argentina and the mighty Lionel Messi on Saturday at 6 a.m. West Coast Time. If you happen to have some hafragrautur (oatmeal) or skyr (yogurt) in the house, go for it. Otherwise, prepare a bowl of cereal — if there was ever a time to justify Cap’n Crunch, this would be it — and root for the boys from Iceland.