‘I’m not usually around this many Americans! – How the USMNT plan to celebrate Thanksgiving at the World Cup in Qatar
It will be an odd holiday halfway across the world, but a result against England would give the US plenty to be thankful for
It’s safe to say that this Thanksgiving weekend is a special one for American soccer fans. A clash with England looms large, with that post-Turkey Day hangover set to rapidly turn to World Cup dread in the hours leading up to a clash with the Three Lions.
For those on the ground in Qatar, though, it’s a holiday unlike any other. And, for the USMNT, it’s a holiday that’s being postponed to focus on the bigger picture.
The US are set to face England on Friday at 10pm local time after drawing their World Cup opener with Wales. The match is obviously vital to their hopes of advancing from the group stage, with any point or points potentially being the difference between survival and elimination.
Because of that, the USMNT players and staff won’t have a typical Thanksgiving Thursday. There will be no NFL games, no turkey, no stuffing, no pie. Instead, it’s a day for training, regeneration, press conferences and, ultimately, preparation.
“All our families are here,” said defender Cameron Carter-Vickers. “On Saturday, we’ll have a nice little Thanksgiving gathering, so I’ll enjoy that.”
Carter-Vickers, who was raised in England, admitted that Thanksgiving was never a big deal in his household growing up. However, both Carter-Vickers and fellow English-raised team-mate Yunus Musah did say how they have always felt included and welcomed when it comes to American holidays with the national team group.
But, while those raised abroad may not be used to massive Thanksgiving festivities, others certainly are. Goalkeeper Matt Turner, for example, says that his family will miss out on a massive gathering, but that he is obviously very much okay with that as he chases his World Cup dream.
“Every Thanksgiving, probably 30 or 40 of my family and friends all gather at my mom and dad’s house back in Park Ridge, New Jersey, so yeah, we’re gonna miss out on that,” Turner said. “Mom and dad are here in Qatar so it’ll be a little bit different for the people back home this time around, but we can look forward to the future and many more times with family.”
For Americans that have been playing in Europe, though, this holiday actually brings some form of normalcy. The USMNT stars that have been stationed abroad haven’t often had other Americans to celebrate with, which is something that captain Tyler Adams was excited to embrace.
“I’m thankful to spend the day with this many Americans. It’s been four or five years since I’ve had Thanksgiving with this many Americans,” Adams said. “It’s usually just me and my girlfriend, but I’m lucky enough to call this my family as well. This is like my extended family. We all feel very comfortable here so that’s an exciting thing.”
That holiday period will likely only add to the excitement ahead of the USMNT’s match against England, though. It is widely expected that the match will be among the most, if not the most, watched soccer games of all-time stateside. It’s easy to see why when assessing both the opponent stakes and the fact that many Americans will be out of work for the start.
So, while Americans back home decompress after a busy day of eating, the USMNT will be under the spotlight on the world stage. Their celebration will happen, eventually on Saturday, and a delayed holiday celebration is always better than none at all.
It’s a safe bet to say that the turkey will taste much better if the US could have a result against England to be thankful for.