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Soccer fandom, Broadway intersect as local teacher pens unofficial U.S. Soccer World Cup theme song

By Jon Meoli

The Baltimore Sun

11:56 AM EDT, May 30, 2014

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Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, hosts of the popular soccer podcast Men in Blazers on Grantland, believe no proper country can send its team to the World Cup without an anthem.

When they solicited submissions for an unofficial theme song to send along with the U.S. Men's National Team to the World Cup next month in Brazil, the winning entry came from right here in Maryland.

Craig Copeland, a 44-year-old teacher at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, was voted as the winning songwriter for his U.S. Soccer-themed version of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.”

“Through the competition, we found out that the overlap between American soccer fans, and budding Andrew Lloyd Webbers is surprisingly deep but Craig Copeland won the popular vote — his song captures a sense of innocent optimism surrounding the team before they head down to Brazil and battle the brutal reality of the Group of Death they face,” Bennett said Friday in an email.

Broadway singer Julia Mattison will perform his song Friday at the Men in Blazers Live on Broadway event in New York City, which is being produced by Tony Award-winner John Johnson and billed as a send-off event for the U.S team. The event will feature members of the 2014 World Cup squad, as well as the 1994 World Cup squad.

The back-story of the song is steeped in Men in Blazers lore and rather difficult to explain. (It will devastate my most loyal reader, my lovely mother, that I have never seen “The Sound of Music.")

Bennett and Davies refer to the U.S. Men’s National Team as the Von Trapps, and though they admitted in a recent Grantland video they have no idea why, it appears to stem from a tweet after coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s appointment in July 2011.

A reader suggested that Klinsmann’s warm, light approach would be akin to the governess Maria Rainier, as opposed to the stricter rule of former coach Bob Bradley — or Captain Georg von Trapp, the childrens’ father.

Copeland said his older sister listened to the soundtrack from “The Sound of Music” “every day for a year” growing up.

“They joke about how there’s an odd intersection between football fans and Broadway music lovers—I fit that category,” Copeland said. “It just seemed obvious when they said they want a national song, and they call them the von Trapps. I thought the fake von Trapps need a song from the real von Trapps, so ‘My Favorite Things’ seemed to be an obvious choice.”

Copeland said he bought tickets to Friday’s event when he heard his song was announced as a finalist. Listeners voted for Copeland’s song over a version of Lorde’s “Royals,” and a Bruce Springsteen cover of “Born in the USA,” which instead used the lyrics “Born on a U.S. Base,” in reference to the amount of German-born players born to U.S. military members stationed on the World Cup roster.

Copeland, who also won a customized Xbox One, said he will honor the event's dress code and “wear as much red, white and blue” as he can put together. He’s excited to meet fellow listeners and enjoy the event with his fellow GFOP (Great Friends of the Pod).

“The people who support soccer, that number is starting to grow,” Copeland said. “It’s going to be fun to get together with those people all in one room. It’s just two guys who like to talk about soccer on a podcast, to get to get several hundred people together in New York for their silly podcast is going to be fun.”

Copeland, who lives in Hereford, was a basketball player growing up and only recently began following soccer. He said he’s chosen a Premier League team — Everton — and believes many soccer fans came to the sport late, as he did.

In his 20 years as a teacher, he has seen hard evidence of the Men in Blazers’ belief that soccer has been America’s sport of the future since 1976.

“It used to be we’d have casual dress days, and you’d see nothing but Ravens jerseys,” Copeland said. “In the last five or six years, the soccer jerseys absolutely outnumber all the other sports combined.”  

Here are Copeland's lyrics:

To the tune of “Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music

Meola and Keller and Howard goal-keeping;

Doce a cero and the Mexicans weeping;

November in Denver, Columbus in spring:

These are a few of our favorite things.

Arena & Jurgen and Bradley and Bora;

The Port-of-Spain goal sent in by Caligiuri;

“Sprechen sie deutsch” and you’ll make the first string:

These are a few of our favorite things.

Donovan’s stoppage time strike brought salvation;

Joe Gaetjen’s goal (though he really was Haitian);

We might not win World Cups but we sure can sing,

"These are a few of our favorite things."

When Torsten Fring handles

When there’s a FIFA scandal

When we play Ghana

We simply remember our favorite things

And then it’s like nir….va-na.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

www.twitter.com/jonmeoli