Everything I Know About Soccer, I Learned From The Big Green, Ladybugs, And Full House

Last night, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team gave America one heck of a late birthday present, crushing Japan to soar into World Cup victory. While I’ve never been a soccer person, I am weirdly emotional about televised sports so it was very exciting. Plus, I love America, and I enjoy when my country has a good birthday weekend.

But as a non-soccer person, it’s hard to know exactly what is going on. I’ll admit it: my trough of soccer knowledge is filled with ’90s children’s entertainment. Namely, the 1995 Disney movie The Big Green, the 1992 Rodney Dangerfield vehicle Ladybugs, and this one episode of Full House. All three proved very useful as I got surprisingly into the World Cup over the last week or so.

Sometimes, Own Goals Will Happen

During England’s semifinal match against Japan, powerhouse defender Laura Bassett had the opportunity to block Japan’s kick at a critical moment. Instead, the ball deflected into her own goal, scoring one for Japan.

You know who has been there? Michelle Elizabeth Tanner of San Francisco, California, that’s who. Yes, a fictional 8-year-old from 1994. A lot of us learned about sportsmanship, life, and disappointment when Michelle triumphantly drove the ball down the field – into the wrong goal. So yeah, Michelle actually headed toward her own team’s goal, while Bassett was just doing her job but miscalculated a bit. Also England was playing in the World Cup and Michelle was playing in a rec league coached by Uncle Joey, a grown man who lives in his friend’s basement and does impressions of 50-year-old cartoon characters.

But here’s where we learn our lesson about mistakes. Michelle’s own team taunted her like a bunch of poorly-raised brats, effectively kicking off two decades of negative stereotypes about millennials. I’d expect that from Aaron, but DEREK? Not Derek. Never Derek. He’s the Yankee Doodle Boy. He’s better than that.

But in 2015, social media rallied around Bassett, who is by all accounts an amazing player who had a bad moment that could have happened to anyone. So our lesson here: sometimes, mistakes will happen, but it takes a real adult to be nice about it.

Americans Are Actually Pretty Great At Soccer

In The Big Green, an English teacher ends up in Elma, Texas, a town where all of the children are variations on the Ugly American stereotype. With the help of the town sheriff – because in tv and movies, Texas is like 50% cowboys, 49% sherriffs, 1% Tim Riggins – the kids win the championship. Yes, the AMERICAN kids. From TEXAS even. All they needed was a British schoolteacher to believe in them.

Last night, America systematically beat out every other participating country to win the World Cup. Basically the same thing. See, Americans CAN do it! Of course, those of us who checked The Big Green out at Blockbuster Video in fourth grade already knew that.

You Don’t Need A Boy On The Team

In an all-new REALLY?! With Seth And Amy, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler shut down Andy Benoit, a man who writes about sports and decided that no women’s sports are worth watching. What an Aaron, am I right?

But Andy Benoit was born the same year as me, which means he probably grew up on Ladybugs, a movie about a girls’ soccer team coached by Rodney Dangerfield. Well, a girls’ soccer team that included one boy (Jonathan Brandis in the worst blonde bob wig in the world) pretending to be a girl named “Martha.” Yet, after Martha fessed up, you know who scores the winning goal? Kimberly. A girl.

So. Ladybugs is not a good movie. However, Andy Benoit should still know that the Ladybugs never needed Jonathan Brandis to be a winning team. The point is, maybe we just need to stick Andy in a screening room and make him  watch Ladybugs on a loop until he comes around or goes completely crazy, whichever happens first.

Maybe A Ragtag Team Of Misfits Can Play Soccer After All
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Because it wouldn’t be a 90s kids’ sports movie without this boy.

The Big Green and Ladybugs showed us that nonathletic losers- with grit, enthusiasm, and some uniforms – can become soccer stars. While in the World Cup, we saw that athletic, highly motivated, well-trained people – with grit, enthusiasm, and some uniforms – can become soccer stars. This is not the same thing. I think these movies seriously overstated how easy it is to become a reigning soccer champ. But those of us who watched the World Cup from our sofas, only half-understanding what was going on, pretty much already knew that.


American Things To Do To Make You Get Over The World Cup Loss

So, we lost. I’m no soccer connoisseur, but I’m pretty sure it’s still a shock that we made it so far into the World Cup. It was exhilarating for the like, two weeks we were in the thick of it, as people who usually don’t care about professional soccer were suddenly into it for the spirit of AMURRICA.

And now that we’re out, we have to deal with the depression that comes once the reality of losing settles in (and what exactly we’re going to do with that Tim Howard Shrine). And to pour salt in the wounds, the loss came just days before the most patriotic day of the year. So to help you deal with one of the most bittersweet Independence Days you’ll ever celebrate, here are a few things to do today to help you get over the World Cup loss.

Watch and recite the speech from Independence Day

It doesn’t matter if you’re Democrat or Republican, one thing we can all agree on is that Bill Pullman as fake President of the USA is one leader we can stand behind, especially after this rousing speech before they fight all the aliens. You know, it sounds ridiculous once I type it out like that. But if you don’t stand up and clap in the name of America after this, you should probably check your citizenship at the door.

Drink beer from a red solo cup

In one of those Buzzfeed articles, it showed people from around the world holding ‘American parties’ and in almost all of them, they are drinking out of red solo cups. I didn’t realize it until reading the listicle, but why DO we use these cups at every college/drinking party, both portrayed on screen and IRL too? Either way, the rest of the world is right, we use these brightly colored cups to excess and drink your soccer cares away today/this weekend – preferably with a cheap American beer.

Register to vote!

Democracy – we got it! Also we have these awesome ‘I Voted’ stickers that you get after said voting, and these are the exact ones I got in LA that have different languages around the perimeter, including one in Filipino!! What up diversity!

Wear all the American flag things

As I found out last year, apparently any article of clothing with the flag printed on it is actually a flag. Like it should be treated the same as a real flag, according to the U.S. flag code. Basically, we’ve all broken the code. Oops. Maybe you shouldn’t go all out like Katy Perry (but I mean, good on ya if you do), but prove to the enemy that we stand strong in the face of adversity and don’t let those colors run (lawdd).

Eat your weight in hot dogs

Every 4th of July, iconic hot dog company Nathan’s Famous holds the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, in which contestants shove the meat into their mouths at rapid pace and whoever eats the most gets fame and fortune (a bejeweled mustard belt), because, America. 30-year-old Joey Chestnut (pictured in the center) has won every year since 2007, and last year he even beat his own personal record of 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Needless to say, you don’t want to hang around the 10:01 mark unless you want to lose your appetite.

Just eat all the foods

Our friend Renee relocated to the Netherlands a couple years ago, and she held her own American Thanksgiving at her house for her Dutch friends, and made all the fixins, from mashed potatoes to sweet potatoes to vegetables to the obvious large turkey – and he Dutch pals kept questioning why she made so much food for such a small group of people. Because, you do. But WHY they asked. Just make less of it. NO. That’s not Thanksgiving, that’s not America. We’re known for our entirely too large portions and nothing helps you beat stress better than with just piles of food. And alcohol. But mainly food.

Spend too much money at Wal-Mart

Ah, Wal-Mart. Where the items are dirt cheap and so is the employees’ salary (allegedly). If you want to see America at its finest (and also a good reminder that your lives could be worse), all you need to do is go to the People of WalMart site and feel better about yourself, while at the same time disgusted for our society as a whole.

Play baseball

Ever since the 18th century, baseball has been “America’s Game”. There’s nothing more patriotic than going to a ball game, eating some peanuts and cracker jacks (and possibly a hot dog – too soon?), and hearing the National Anthem sung by a local singer who never made it big. Plus, you’re probably already into baseball anyways, so just focus your attention from soccer back to baseball.

Play (American) football

In addition to baseball, Americans love a good game of football. I mean the Super Bowl is like the biggest non-official U.S. holiday. It’s the second largest day for food consumption in the country and also the most watched television event every year. While the last game of the U.S. match in the World Cup did get huge ratings for ESPN – it’s nothing compared to the over 111 million viewers of the Super Bowl.

Basically play any other sport except soccer

I’m not saying you should NEVER play soccer – but maybe in the interim of your depression, just try a new sport that hasn’t taken off the ground in America yet. Like table tennis, perhaps. This sport is huge in Asia! It even is an official sport at the summer Olympics, so that’s gotta count for something!

GOOOOAALLLL!! Ranking The Best World Cup Songs


Alright, in all honesty, I’m sorry if those caps lock letters (and the gif of Ross hyping himself up to play RUGBY) misled you  – I actually don’t care about the World Cup. I’m not into soccer, and I didn’t realize it was a huge deal and, like, the soccer Olympics until 2010 when I was fairly new to Los Angeles and everyone was super into it. Sports have just never been my main jam, okay?

You know what is my jam? Music by artists I recognize. Every year, there’s an official championship theme song used during the course of the World Cup and in ads to promote it. While some are less than inspirational, there are a number that have perfectly captured the spirit of the games. After listening to all the songs, I’ve compiled a list of the best songs since its inception in 1962.

A few notes: I only chose songs that were official World Cup anthems (with one exception) and again, since I have never had interest in the World Cup, I am basing my ranking on hearing these tracks for the first time (with two exceptions), and going with my gut Olivia Pope style, so clearly this list is purely subjective.

8) Anthem by Vangelis

{South Korea & Japan 2002}

I appreciate that this is just a pure dance track with no inspirational lyrics at all, going against all the previous songs, which you know, have lyrics. At least it goes well with the montage in this video.

7) El Rock del Mundial by Los Ramblers

{Chile 1962}

There’s something to be said about a song that captures not only the spirit of the World Cup but the time period as well. There’s no doubt that this song was made in 1962 – it’s like listening to a time capsule. I’m not a hardcore audiophile, so I don’t think I’ve ever heard 60s rock and roll music that wasn’t in English – and for 2 minutes and 47 seconds, I felt like I was transported to Chile and living in a black and white world.

6) Futbol by Maryla Rodowicz

{Germany 1974}

Although the World Cup was in Germany, this song is in Polish, and I can’t get over how wonderfully disco and corny it is. Literally the chorus is “Futbol, futbol, futbol”. I mean, at least this chick is on message – and SUPER passionate about it.

5) Gloryland by Daryl Hall, Sounds of Blackness

{USA 1994}

Daryl Hall. Of Hall & Oates. This song screams America – which kind of defeats the purpose of being all “the world is gathering in one place in the spirit of good sportsmanship”, but whatever. Daryl Hall’s voice has a quality about it that makes me believe whatever he is selling. As in, he could be singing Maneater and I’m all, ‘YEAH THAT BITCH IS DEFINITELY CRAY’ and with Gloryland, he’s singing ‘Believe in what you do/and you’ll go straight to see it through/on the road to Gloryland’ and I’m all ‘I CAN ACHIEVE ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS, DARYL HALL! I’M ON MY WAY TO GLORYLAND!’ I buy it.

4) Un Estate Italiana by Gianna Nannini & Edoardo Bennato

{Italy 1990}

Speaking of passion, these Italian dudes definitely have it. We all know that everyone in Europe and Latin America are super hardcore about ‘football’ and these singers are showing their love for the sport in this track. Plus, it just sounds better when you sing in Italian, “magic nights following a goal under the sky of an Italian summer”. Even Daryl Hall couldn’t pull that off without sounding like a pretentious dillweed.

3) Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) by Shakira, featuring Freshly Ground

{South Africa 2010}

I feel like Shakira was put on this planet to record the official song for the World Cup. It just first her, you know?

2) Wavin’ Flag by K’naan feat. David Bisbal

{South Africa 2010}

Okay, so this song wasn’t the official track for South Africa that year – Shakira took that title. But K’naan – a Somalia-born Canadian – wrote this song inspired by the stories of refugees, and that theme of not giving up, both in the face of adversity and as simple as losing a soccer match, is what makes this song perfect for the World Cup.

1) The Cup of Life by Ricky Martin

{France 1998}

Like many people who tuned into the 1999 Grammy Awards, I distinctly remember watching Ricky Martin perform this, and that’s when my crush formed for this Latin heartthrob. It’s everything that a sports anthem should be – upbeat, catchy, celebratory, and include lyrics that everyone can remember and sing along to. It’s hard not to feel pumped up for a game – or for anything in life for that matter – when hearing this song.