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'USA against Germany split my identity'

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'USA against Germany split my identity'
USA and Germany fans at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt on Thursday night. Photo: Craig Howkins
08:26 CEST+02:00
"It is at times like these that I question my identity. Am I an American? Am I becoming German?" American teacher and blogger Kathleen Ralf, who has lived in Frankfurt for five years, looks at how the World Cup has challenged her loyalties.
On Thursday night my identity was split for 90 minutes as Germany and the US battled it out for a place in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

I love football. As a child, my first team experience was on the football pitch. Wearing purple and gold reversible jerseys, my teammates and I bunched together, unable to move the ball anywhere towards the goal.

The more our coach screamed at us, “Stop Bunching!” the tighter the pack around the ball became. It took a season for our troop of second graders to figure out how to play.  We stayed together until our tenth grade year of high school.

Eventually football became my game. In fact, you could say that my growing up was defined by it.  

Those years were punctuated by three months of games as the weather turned from summer to fall to winter. The game strengthened my friendships and my ability to work with others.  

It strengthened both my physical and mental stamina. No one will forget those slide tackles on fields covered in Canadian Goose droppings or the freezing rain and wind during playoff games with teammates on the sideline huddled in garbage bags for warmth.

I was single-mindedly devoted to football, no other sport really interested me. And this is where I seem to resemble a German.

PHOTO GALLERY: usa-germany-fans-enjoy-match-in-frankfurt">USA and German fans gather in Frankfurt

In America, kids are pushed to be four season athletes. There are other sports in Germany, but nothing compares with football. Seemingly, no child here overloads themselves with sports activities hoping to become a star. Children here devote themselves to one sport and usually that sport is football.

Living here in Germany I can get my fill of football. I know every player on the German squad, but I have to struggle to name two American players… Dempsey and ?

I don’t follow any particular team closely, but I do have a love-hate relationship with Bayern Munich. I equate them with the Yankees. I love the stars of the team, but hate the brand that the team name has become. And during the Bundesliga or Champions League finals I root for whoever is playing against Bayern.

Germans love Klinsmann. The idea that a German football hero could pull together a ragtag group of players and make them into a world class team is very appealing to them. Germans want to see Klinsi succeed, but not at the cost of their own team.

You can read more from Kathleen on her blog Lehrer Werkstatt.

Were your loyalties torn on Thursday night? Leave your comments below.

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