At first glance, this might not seem like news (some will still argue that it isn’t). Like the Olympics, however, the World Cup selects a logo and a mascot that will forevermore be associated with that month-long tournament for years to come. It definitely works. To this day, I can tell you that the two Athens 2004 mascots were Athena and Phevos who were based off ancient Greek drawings.
The process for both is similar. The logo and mascot attribute the culture, geography and sports passion of the host city. The mascot can range from a native animal to something imaginary (as was the case for London 2012 and Atlanta 1996, the latter of which was created and selected by school children). Most importantly, the mascot must appeal to young fans. It will be duplicated on various products including stuffed animals and toys, afterall, and an actual mascot will make appearances for promotions purposes before and during the World Cup.
I am finally getting caught up after spending two days off in Coeur d’Alene for one last “mini vacation” before winter. It has been quite the eventful week for Team USA in several capacities and much has happened since my workweek began.
Four days after dropping a 2-1 contest to Jamaica in Kingston, the U.S. men’s national team defeated Jamaica 1-0 off Herculez Gomez’s 55th minute goal before a sold out crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium. The win puts the U.S. in a tie for first place with Guatemala in group standings with two 2014 World Cup qualification matches remaining. I was covering volleyball and was unable to watch the game, but I followed it on Twitter and read recaps afterwards and I was glad to find out that fans were given American flags to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It sounded like an amazing, emotional atmosphere that just added to the game.
The last 36 hours have been a series of highs and lows for U.S. Soccer. The fastest goal in World Cup qualifying history by Clint Dempsey (36 seconds into the match) wasn’t enough to carry the momentum for the U.S. in a 2-1 loss to Jamaica on Friday in Group A of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying at Kingston. The U.S. has yet to win a World Cup qualifier in Jamaica. Goalkeeper Tim Howard, who wore the captain’s arm band for the game, played through a knee injury for the rest of the match despite a 53rd minute collision with Jamaican forward Luton Shelton. The USMNT and Jamaica face off again Tuesday at a sold out Columbus Crew stadium for a match some have tabbed a “must win” for the U.S.
Less than 24 hours later, the U.S. U-20 women’s team upset favored Germany 1-0 to win the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Tokyo. With the win, the U.S. becomes the first nation to win the U-20 WWC three times (2012, 2008, 2002). Ironically considering the prestige of both programs, it was also the first time the U.S. and Germany have met in the final of a world championship event.
I was awake by 4:30 this morning to watch the match live online and it was well worth it. Defense was prevalent and it certainly won the game for the U.S. The first U.S. corner kick wasn’t until 28 minutes in and Germany had more shots in the first half by far. U.S. forward Kealia Ohai scored the lone goal and eventual game-winner off a cross from defender Crystal Dunn in the 44th minute, the only goal Germany had conceded throughout the entire tournament. Having seen both these national team players live against Canada in June, it is my observation that Ohai runs like Tobin Heath and shoots like Alex Morgan.