It was tough to watch the USA soccer team fall to Ghana yesterday, reminiscent of four years ago when Ghana knocks us out in group play. Oh well. Now we can get back to the summer game, and Americans can become soccer fans again in 2014.
It’s too bad though, I was enjoying getting up early to cheer the Americans on before going to work. Especially the midfielder and the defender with those seemingly, and actually, Jewish surnames. Turns out the Jew crew numbered three on the US team. Benny Feilhaber and Jonathan Bornstein, who got significant playing time, both hailed from not Southern California and played for UCLA (Feilhaber while I was there).
Here’s a story from The Jewish Journal about the US’ Jewish soccer stars:
Friends since high school, Bornstein and Feilhaber have been on a shared journey to the World Cup, which includes stints with the UCLA Bruins and the U.S. Men’s National Team as well as a silver medal win during the 2005 Maccabiah Games.
With the clock counting down to the first U.S. kickoff in South Africa, Feilhaber says the excitement is building.
“The World Cup is so close now that I start to get anxious when I think about it,” he said. “It’s as though there’s not enough I can do to fully prepare for this event. It’s the biggest event in sports in the world.”
Feilhaber said that he and Bornstein “definitely had a special connection” because of their religion. Plus, he said, “it was easy being friends with him because he scored all the goals so I passed him all the balls.”
For his part, Bornstein, who still rooms with Feilhaber while on the road with the U.S. Men’s National Team, said, “When a Jewish holiday comes up, we recognize it and talk about it, but we don’t celebrate too many holidays together.” That is because Feilhaber spends the High Holy Days with his family. “My father is Jewish, and I have a connection with Judaism through my father and my grandparents. I know our history as a people and embrace being Jewish myself,” Feilhaber said. “Of course, my proudest moment as a Jew was having my bar mitzvah in front of all my family and friends.”