For Canadians it’s difficult to side with Americans when it comes to fun and games.

It’s an even more problematic alliance at global sporting summits.

In the beloved passion of hockey, at the most critical moments, the men and women clad in uniforms bearing “Old Glory” present the greatest threat to those who don the Maple Leaf.

The same is true of the Olympics. The Americans have the most money and deepest talent pool, thus they tend to win the lion’s share of medals. That reality turns out to be the only asterisk to stain the success column of a wildly successful home Games in Vancouver.

But things are different somehow at the World Cup.

In a tournament where the European masters of “football” consider themselves insiders and where the South American magicians from Brazil and Argentina rightly claim the “It’s in our blood” card, the Yankees are the plucky upstarts.

And for that reason, they are winning rave reviews north of the border.

There’s something attractive about the swashbuckling style of soccer the Americans play. They are rarely cagey.

Instead, they go for broke and somehow a little guy from Major League Soccer named Landon Donovan delivered them to the next round at the 11th hour against Algeria.

It was thrilling to watch — no, it was inspiring — and even better, the victory by the United States seemed like justice.

All along, the Americans had stuck to their guns in spite of those who conspired against them.

There were goals against mighty England that were said to be “gifted” and other goals rightfully scored that were taken away.

But the Americans didn’t complain much. They chalked it up to the breaks of the game.

“You either whine and complain or you get on with things,” figured coach Bob Bradley.

And so they worked harder and made their own victories instead of relying on others.

In a way, the Americans are outsiders at the World Cup. They come from a continent that is not considered to be the heartland of the sport.

In that respect they are very much like Canadians. But these American athletes are proving there’s hope for those who live on the frontier of football.

The star-spangled boys of soccer are playing the role of underdogs and winning friends fast.

– Gemini Award winner Scott Russell is the host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. He has covered a variety of sports including nine Olympic Games and numerous world championships, and also hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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