DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP
Oregon has some serious soccer bona fides. Above, University of Portland players celebrate after winning the 2005 NCAA Women's College Cup.
DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP
As Ghana -- the little African nation that could -- readies itself for a quarterfinal match against Uruguay, you're bound to hear more about the Ghana/Oregon connection. It was there in the Ghana vs United States pre and post-mortems -- as in "Ghana, a nation the size of Oregon."
As in -- puny country, puny state.
To which Oregonians -- especially World Cup-watching Oregonians -- say: Hey now. Wait just a soccer-kickin' minute!
First off, Oregon is number ten. Ten in national rankings for land area, that is. 95,996.79 square miles. Not so pint-sized, eh?
Number two, Oregon has a rich soccer history that would make the Black Stars proud. In David M. Porter's A History of Soccer in Oregon, the author writes, "In Portland, there are tantalizing bits of information about soccer being played here as early as the turn of the century."
Zipping ahead to the end of the century, little University of Portland (about 3,600 students) became a soccer juggernaut under the leadership of the late coach Clive Charles. The U.P. women won the NCAA Division One championship in 2002 and 2005.
U.P. has been well represented on the U.S. National teams. On the men's side, World Cup vets Steve Cherundolo and Kasey Keller are both Portland alums. Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett, Stephanie Lopez and Megan Rapinoe are U.S. stalwarts and former Portland Pilots as well.
Still want to compare the Black Stars to a little backwater U.S. State? If so, here are two words that make global soccer instantly snap to: Adidas. Nike.
The two sportswear giants are battling it out in South Africa: Adidas is the World Cup's official sponsor and creator of the controversial Jabulani soccer ball. It expects to sell 13 million of them this year. Adidas also designed the uniforms worn by match officials -- probably not something to be too proud of, considering some of the abysmal officiating going on.
Nike, of course, isn't backing down. Nike's sponsoring nine World Cup teams, to Adidas's 12. Again, in the "not something to be too proud of" category, next year Nike replaces Adidas as the official sponsor of the French soccer federation. Yes, that French soccer federation.
Nike has struck the biggest chord with its thoroughly entertaining "Write the Future" World Cup commercial. Adidas answered with its "Star Wars Cantina" ad
These two titans, who are the look and feel of the World Cup, are based where? Yep... Tiny Oregon. Adidas North American headquarters are in Portland. Nike world headquarters are in nearby Beaverton.
So go ahead all you pundits -- keep feeding us the "Ghana is the size of little old Oregon" line. Here in Oregon, we know what it really means:
Uruguay, watch out!