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From My Point of View: Russia’s monumental World Cup run

From My Point of View: Russia’s monumental World Cup run

Proud is an understatement.

For the longest time, I have known that I was adopted from Russia. The last time I stepped foot in the country of my birth was when I was a one year old. Honestly, I wasn’t even walking!

But I always, always had this pride for Russia. I loved the country the moment I learned about it in history class. When I found out I was adopted in my early teenage years, the love only blossomed from there.

But, being a Russian-American isn’t always easy.

I get it. No matter what, there will always be talk to politics. But, I tend to ignore those talks. No, I did not hack the election. No, I am not a mail order bride and I don’t drink vodka for breakfast, lunch and dinner — or even in between. There are so many stereotypes surrounding fellow Russians.

I’ve heard them all.

But, through all the name calling and being forced to prejudice (especially in high school), I always remained strong and passionate to my home country and my first country.

I think my love for America wouldn’t compare to Russia. To be honest, I don’t expect anyone to understand that. If you’re not adopted from another country, you wouldn’t get it — so don’t try and pretend to get it. Even if you are adopted from another country, each country, each person has a different story. My story is that I truly, deeply care for my country and two parents (especially my birth mother) whom I have never even met.

I have immense respect, love and compassion toward my adoptive family. They do so much for me and are my family. I adore them. They are supportive of my love for a country that isn’t theirs.

Watching Russia beat Spain today wasn’t “just another match.” Soccer isn’t “just a game/sport” to me. Watching my home country beat a team that was hailed the top-dog and favorite in the tournament is monumental.

I don’t care about the politics. But, I care about the players, the country and my fellow Russians who are scoured across the vast country, celebrating our nation’s victory.

I was in tears when Igor Akinfeev made that final penalty kick save.

Why?

I was in tears because of the immense pride I have for Russia, my country.

Many Russians, and the country in general, have been vilified due to politics. I am not naive. I understand that Russia has some questionable leadership and policies. However, the people of Russia are good people. They’re not out to hurt everyone around them.

Just like me, they embrace their culture and country. It’s patriotism, after all. I root for Russia and the United States just like how El Tri fans root for Mexico and fill up those Russian stadiums.

Russians are not bad people. We’re your neighbors, friends, fellow classmates, the people who walk on the same side of the street with you and so on and so forth. We’re good people and we have a lot of passion for our country – just like any other patriot.

No matter what happens against Croatia, Russia has had a Cinderella run in this World Cup, on home soil. Russia is doing what Costa Rica did back in 2014 and have punched a ticket to the Quarterfinals.

Win or lose against Croatia, my love for Russia and the passion I have for this country will carry for a long, long time. It’s interesting, being from a different country, celebrating different holidays (often by myself) and being a Russian-American.

I love my countries and I love Russia.

Rachael McKriger holding her Russian flag. McKriger was born in Moscow, Russia, but moved to the United States at one, due to her adoption.

The sport of soccer is Rachael McKriger's area of expertise. McKriger covers Steel City FC for Pittsburgh Soccer Now and provides various columns. Elsewhere, McKriger covers the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC for Pittsburgh Sports Castle. Her coverage expanded to Last Word on Soccer in March 2018, where she began National Women's Soccer League coverage and U.S. Women's National Team reporting. A May 2018 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, McKriger is currently enrolled in graduate school at Point Park University.

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