It’s difficult, sometimes, to be burdened with so much knowledge.

For instance, I know how the U.S. can win the next World Cup. So now I am faced with a quandary: Do I go public with this valuable information or keep it to myself?

On the one hand, we have the largesse that would be bestowed upon me by a grateful nation. Ladies, you know what I mean. On the other hand, I’m not so sure I want us to win the Cup. The thrill of victory really should go to a country that lives and dies with its team — not to a country where the World Cup is at best just a distraction that occupies time between the NBA playoffs and the opening of NFL training camp.

On the other other hand, I have some column inches to fill. So here it is: How we can bring the World Cup to the U.S., where it will no doubt gather dust in someone’s attic for four years.

Step 1: Do Something About That Name
What is this “soccer” business, anyway? I mean, really. How is America supposed to embrace a sport with such a silly name?

This should be easy to fix, because the sport we currently call “football” is inappropriately named. Yes, feet are in some way involved in every play, and every dozen plays or so some random little dude comes on to the field and kicks the ball; but on the whole hands are much more important to the game than feet.

So this sport has to change its name to something appropriately all-American and hyperbolic, something like “Superball” or “Destructoball.” Or maybe it could just sell its name to a corporate sponsor—how do you like the sound of “Bud Ball,” “Chevy Truck Ball,” or maybe just “McBall”? (Another possibility, “Microsoft Ball,” just doesn’t have the right ring to it.)

Then we can change “soccer” to “football,” bringing us in line with the rest of the world. That’s a good start, and we move on to…

Step 2: Bring in Athletes from Other Sports
In countries where football is paramount, all the best athletes play it. We are at a disadvantage because many of our best athletes play other sports. The solution is simple: Start preparing athletes from other sports to play in the 2006 World Cup. Four years should be long enough for them to get the hang of it.

Three words: Shaquille O’Neal, goalie. With his ridiculous combination of size and agility, how could anyone get the ball past him? Imagine the tough and speedy Allen Iverson at striker, or Vince Carter rising easily above the pack to head in a corner kick. From Bud Ball, we’ll bring in Charles Woodson, Randy Moss, Edgerrin James, and Junior Seau for tryouts (sorry, no quarterbacks). Baseball players can’t run for 90 minutes and hockey players are all Canadian, but we’ll throw Tiger Woods in there just for the heck of it.

Now we’re getting somewhere. On to…

Step 3: Kill Ourselves
To really compete internationally, the U.S. must close the gap in fan fervor. For instance, a dedicated South Korea fan recently burned himself alive for his team, promising in his suicide note that he would be the “12th man” for the Korean team. Extreme, you say? Perhaps… but you’ll notice that South Korea made it to the semifinals (and possibly, by the time you read this, to the finals). There’s no arguing with that kind of result.

So in preparation for the 2006 tournament, we must begin developing a specially trained suicide squad. Advanced CIA brainwashing techniques will help. If we could get, say, a dozen citizens to immolate themselves, thus becoming the 12th through 23rd men for the U.S. team, we’d certainly have a leg up. Yes, the flower of American manhood wiping itself out for its country… what could be more touching?