On Tuesday, the U.S. national team was knocked out of the World Cup in semi-heartbreaking fashion. Semi-heartbreaking, because while the U.S. played like hopeless crap for about 110 minutes of the match, they had a glorious chance to win it at the end of regular time. It would have been glorious, a Fourth of July weekend featuring an upstart American side going head to head with a beatable-looking Argentine outfit. Alas, it was not to be.
So now American fans stand alone, without a squad to get behind, like a lonely boy at a middle-school dance looking for a partner as a slow jam comes on. But buck up, fellow Americans. I have just the dance partner for you: Colombia.
Now, as a half-Colombian, I'm a bit biased here. But believe me when I say there is no team left in the World Cup more worthy of your affections. Here's why.
As Americans, we enjoy action, and goals. It's not that we don't appreciate a tactically masterful one-nil match; it's just that goals are better. Colombia score goals in droves. They don't sit back; they attack, pretty much all the time. In their opening match against a Greek squad notorious for "parking the bus," Colombia showed no mercy. They routed the Greeks, breaking down their bunkers on the way to a 3-0 victory. So far Colombia have scored 11 goals in four games, and they don't look to be stopping, even against Brazil.
Colombia don't just score in quantity; they produce exquisite masterpieces as well. Just take a look at the World Cup's breakout superstar, James "Ha-mes" Rodríguez, as he defies the soccer gods and rips off the goal of the tournament against the loathsome cannibals of Uruguay. He stands as the tournament's top scorer, averaging better than a goal a game.
Take a look at Colombia's celebration after their opening goal against Cote D'Ivoire (again, by James). This kind of impromptu group salsa is harder than it looks. Check out France fail miserably in their own attempt to do what appears to be the Electric Slide and/or the Cotton-Eyed Joe.
The unsung hero of Colombia's team, Juan Cuadrado hasn't scored all the goals, but he's been instrumental in setting up James for glory. In American-sports terms, think of him as a sort of Russell Westbrook to James's Kevin Durant, except with the same haircut as Chief Keef. More importantly, after scoring a penalty, he led the team in a dead-on recreation of the zombie dance from "Thriller." Though he's bounced around on loan in recent years from Serie A club Fiorentina, he's now being linked with a move to Barcelona. Not bad positioning for a half month's work.
Watching a game on the Colombian TV channel Caracol is actually kind of excruciating. They have in-game ads on the bottom of the screen with voiceovers and all, and the announcer sounds like a man in the early throes of a heart attack. It starts out as novel and endearing, and ends up well north of annoying. That said, the anthem they play immediately following a Colombian goal is epic. It takes viewers out of the World Cup and places them in the middle of a surrealist third-act movie montage. Unfortunately, try as I might, I've only been able to find an extended version of the song with, as expected, consistently abrasive lyrics.
Americans love an underdog, or at least love to pretend they love an underdog. Colombia are the only true underdog left in this tournament. You might say, "But, aren't the Costa Ricans that team." Well, yes, but as Americans who've recently had our hearts broken, we need a team with at least a shot of winning this thing, which the Costa Ricans don't have. Colombia, up until this tournament, have consistently underachieved. Their 1994 squad, picked by Pelé to win the World Cup (caveat: Pelé's an idiot, but Colombia did have an excellent team), crashed out tragically, as documented in ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary "The Two Escobars," which you should start loading on Netflix right now. Since 1998, Colombia hasn't even made it to the World Cup. Needless to say, for the team to look this good after years of soccer underachievement—and after a period of internal turmoil fueled by a neverending drug war—is a very big deal for the country.
So, Americans, open your hearts to Colombia. Adopt Los Cafeteros (or as I call them "Los Realistas Magicos") as your new team for the rest of the World Cup. Just remember, "Colombia" is a country; "Columbia" is an elitist institution in New York and a hometown of a mid-level SEC football team. Also, please, no cocaine jokes. If you must, make fun of us for getting Hillary Clinton drunk.
Gabriel Luis Manga is a Young American who recently moved back to New York after a long spell in Cairo, Egypt where he helped develop a Reality TV show for Egyptian youth. He writes about soccer, politics, sociology, and chicken. Follow him on twitter @Gabri_elManga