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USA vs. Algeria: No stranger in a strange land

The USA vs. Algeria match was this reporter's first-ever live World Cup experience – and he floated on a sea of red, white, and blue in South Africa.

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US vs. Algeria: Fans of the United States celebrate after their team defeated Algeria, 1-0, during a 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria.

Radu Sigheti/Reuters

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I'll confess up front: today's USA vs. Algeria match was my first World Cup event viewed from the stands.
Even though the stadium is in Pretoria (a capital city confusingly also known as Tshwane), as an American, I felt like I was on home territory.

The crowd was overwhelmingly American and we were part of an overwhelming sea of red, white, and blue, waving American flags, shouting “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

The real home crowd, South Africans, seemed split on whether to support a team that shares the African continent – or to support a country that elected an African American as president. And, of course, there was a large crowd of Algerian fans, decorated in the green, white, and red colors of their national banner.

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The very fact that there was such a large crowd of American supporters is, of course, a sign of how much the sport has grown in the United States. In my day (I’ve always wanted to write that phrase), soccer was a sport for effete prep school boys, or recently immigrated folks from Latin America or Africa. Now, the American soccer players seem to be finding their place on the global soccer stage, and American fans are following them, literally, halfway around the world.

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