Team USA unlikely World Cup chant began in college football

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Now this is something that any red-blooded American can get behind.

Yahoo Sports! is reporting that the evocative World Cup chant, "I believe that we will win," actually grew in the fertile fandom of college football.

The chant, which has spurred the U.S. Men's National Team in their seemingly impossible — but now exceedingly likely — ascension to the World Cup's Round of 16, apparently began on a football pitch of the American sort.

It began in 1998, Yahoo Sports! reports, at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I.

There, Jay Rodriguez, given the unenviable task of coming up with a catchy cat-call for a 50-member platoon, developed the chant. It spread from his platoon to the rest of his school. It traveled with him when he became a cadet at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, a college which educates future Navy members.

And in the last 15 years, the motivational words have gone from football fields to basketball courts to, finally, soccer pitches.

The words took on extra meaning when USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann didn't mince words about the soccer team's chances in the World Cup, saying that they "cannot win this World Cup." 

While international soccer fans rolled their eyes — of course the U.S. can't win the World Cup, for a multitude of reasons — American fans have an uncanny ability (arrogance?) to think they can and should be considered the most dominant at every sport.

But returning to the college football scene, we can see why the words resonated.

The Navy football program has not always been successful in recent years, but it did win the National Championship in 1926 and went undefeated while not giving up a single score in 1910.

Yes, that's ancient history, but tradition counts — especially for a military school.

And any words which can revitalize winning ways is appreciated. The Navy Midshipmen have compiled a 103-94 record since adopting the slogan.

But since the team went through nine losing seasons in the 1990s, the fact that it has won the majority of games with the chant has to be considered a positive.

Not to be superstitious, of course.

ESPN added the chant to its repertoire leading up to the World Cup, releasing the above advertisement featuring Americans of all walks of life reciting the words together.

Now it continues to be chanted from bars across the country, as the U.S. team challenges to be one of two teams advancing from the "Group of Death."

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