A Reason To Watch U.S. in World Cup: Phoenix Product Robbie Findley

The pageantry, spirit and global fascination should be enough to get even casual soccer fans to plop down and watch a game or two of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

But if it somehow isn't, there is a local connection between Valley residents and the iconic tournament being played half a world away in South Africa.

Robbie Findley (pictured), a 2003 graduate of Shadow Mountain High School, is a forward for the United States.

Findley was a star for the Matadors, earning all-state honors as a junior in 2002 and a senior in 2003. In his final season, Findley led the team to a 5A state quarterfinal appearance.

He then continued his career at Oregon State, where he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the year in 2003. He excelled as a Beaver, as he was the first player in school history to be named All Pac-10 three times.

Dana Taylor, Findley's coach at OSU, raved about the forward and his improvements on the field over.

"Everywhere he's gone, he has stepped up to the challenge," Taylor tells New Times. "He has those athletic and technical attributes where he can get the job done."

After playing professionally for Major League Soccer, Findley got his big chance when he was called up to the national team in 2007. He impressed U.S. head coach Bob Bradley enough to stick around, and was named to the 23-man World Cup squad last month.

All eyes will certainly be on the United States as they sqaure off tomorrow against England, their rival from across the pond.

The Americans are under the most pressure ever for a U.S. team, as they are expected to make it out of the group stage. If they don't, the tournament will be a failure.

While the Yanks and England are getting most of the publicity, the other two teams in Group C are Algeria and Slovenia. The U.S. will face Slovenia on June 18 and Algeria on June 23.

It is unclear how much playing time Findley will get against the best players in the world. Regardless, Taylor said, he is incredibly pleased that Findley in in South Africa.

"I'm so happy for him and his family," Taylor said. "Millions dream and only a few ever make it."

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