The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off today in Brazil. Fans stand behind their countries, like in the Olympics, when they face off against each other on the biggest stage in soccer. And a few of the Raiders have an extra reason to stand behind the United States in the 2014 World Cup – Chris Wondolowski. Born and raised in the Bay Area and a San Jose Earthquakes forward, Wondolowski is a die-hard Raiders fan.
The World Cup is an international affair and attracts viewers from all over the world. According to the International Business Times, at least one billion viewers watched the World Cup in 2010.
While most people in the United States say football and think about the National Football League, football worldwide refers to what Americans call soccer. While American football is the most popular sport in the United States, and the Super Bowl is the most watched single-day sporting event, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. It was estimated by FIFA (according to Encyclopedia Britannica) that there were approximately 250 million football players and over 1.3 billion people interested in the sport.
The United States named their 23-man roster May 22 and Wondolowski earned a spot for the first time in his career. The Danville-native and Chico State-alum has 84 career MLS goals and 17 assists. He holds the MLS record for goals in a single season with 27, tied with Roy Lassiter.
Wondolowski attended Raiders training camp in 2013 and had the opportunity to spend time with K Sebastian Janikowski. And this offseason, he worked with P Marquette King and WR Rod Streater during an Earthquakes practice. Additionally, he attended high school with RB Maurice Jones-Drew at De La Salle.
While a majority of the men in Silver and Black will cheer on Team USA, the Raiders could have a handful of players pulling for other countries. In particular, T Menelik Watson and DE Jack Crawford hail from England. And while Janikowski is originally from Poland and LB Sio Moore was born in Liberia, neither country has a team participating in this year’s tournament.