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At World Cup, Laurel's Kammarman has global view

After graduating from the University of Delaware, Michael Kammarman and his twin brother, David, spent part of the next two years backpacking around the world.

The brothers, who played soccer at Laurel High and graduated in the Class of 1989, spent time in Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific, setting foot in 35 different countries.

Nearly 20 years later Michael Kammarman, a product of the Laurel Boys and Girls Club soccer program, is still getting a lot of stamps in his passport.

The latest stop has been soccer-crazy Brazil, where the former Delaware soccer player is the press officer for the U.S. men's soccer team that is taking part in the 2014 World Cup.

"It is unlike any other event," Kammarman said June 18 in a telephone interview from Brazil. "You come together. [Fans] are united by their passion to their team. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

After a 2-1 win over Ghana, the U.S. team faced Portugal on June 22 for a draw, in a match expected to draw a record television audience for soccer in this country.

Kammarman, has worked for U.S. soccer for 13 years and is taking part in his fourth World Cup.

"It is so much fun. Everyone is here to celebrate together," he said.

The event has a personal connection for Kammarman, whose father is married to a woman from Brazil. His mother, Maggi, and sister, Marci, who graduated from Laurel in 1989, both live in Laurel.

Kammarman, who graduated from Delaware with a degree in political science, got a big start off the field with the sport when he was a volunteer at the Washington venue when the United States hosted the World Cup in 1994.

Now in Brazil, he is part of a communications staff of about 10 people, while there are about 75 total people on hand as support staff to assist the American squad.

"Our job is to help the team be successful," Kammarman said.

One of the members of the U.S. communications staff is a student intern studying journalism at Ohio University.

"I don't think he had any idea of the magnitude of this," said Kammarman, who noted the American team has been mentioned in recent days on "Good Morning, America," "The Today Show" and "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Kammarman certainly knew what to expect, and with that in mind he left his home in the Chicago area and spent six months living in southern California prior to heading to Brazil. He stayed in Hermosa Beach with his brother, who is the director of soccer operations for the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

But catching up with family was not the reason for heading to California. The press officer wanted to be closer to U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann — who grew up in Germany and was living in California — as they dealt with media requests leading up to the World Cup.

"He has experienced all of this," Kammarman said of Klinsman, a former World Cup player for Germany and West Germany.

Among the media they dealt with leading up to Brazil was The New York Times and Time magazine, among many others.

"We wanted to have a closer relationship," Kammarman said of heading to southern California. "We all felt like that made sense. It would be much better" to be close to Klinsmann on a regular basis, he said, instead of being at the U.S. office in Chicago leading up to the World Cup.

Media issues

Kammarman has had his share of media firestorms before the World Cup. The team drew a lot of attention when star Landon Donovan did not make the World Cup roster.

Another frenzy came when Klinsmann was quoted in The New York Times Magazine as saying "we cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet."

Kammarman said in some cases he and the communication staff will consult on how to deal with issues in the media pertaining to the American team. "We decide what the appropriate response, if any, will be," he said.

Kammarman said the quote from Klinsmann was made several months before the World Cup and was in "broad strokes about the [U.S.] program."

When it was announced U.S. striker Jozy Altidore (strained left hamstring) would not play on June 22 against Portugal in Group D play, it was Kammarman who informed the media.

"He will not be available for Sunday's game, but we are hopeful he will be available in the tournament," Kammarman said in a quote used around the world June 19.

Kammarman has now been to 56 countries, in personal travel or through soccer. Despite his global jaunts, Kammarman said he makes several trips a year back to Laurel to see his mother and sister.

"When people ask I tell them I live in Chicago but I am from Laurel, Maryland," said Kammarman, who said he has about 200 Facebook friends from Laurel. "My brother and I are proud to be from Laurel. It was a great community to grow up in."

A look at the U.S. team

Here is how the U.S. men's soccer team has fared in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

June 16 — defeated Ghana 2-1

June 22 — played Portugal in 2-2 draw

June 26 — plays Germany noon EST

The Michael Kammarman file

High School: Laurel High

Hometown: Laurel

College: University of Delaware

Major: Political science

Years on Delaware soccer team: 2

Current title: Press officer, U.S. men's soccer

Years with U.S. soccer: 13

World Cups worked: 4

Did you know? Kammarman sent out a photo of an elephant that got in the way of the bus the U.S. team was in during the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. The photo garnered worldwide attention. … His twin brother, David, played four years of soccer at the University of Delaware and works for LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer. … Both brothers came up through the Laurel Boys and Girls Club soccer program.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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