DOHA, Qatar (AP) — President Joe Biden telephoned the American World Cup team ahead of their opener against Wales, urging them to "let’s go shock ’em all.”
Biden called the team at about 11:30 p.m. Friday (3:30 p.m. EST), the U.S Soccer Federation said Sunday.
“It says POTUS. That’s where it’s coming from,” United States coach Gregg Berhalter said, reading the phone’s caller ID, according to excerpts of a video of players listening to the call.
“Coach, put me in. I'm ready to play,” Biden began, echoing John Fogerty's 1985 song “Centerfield.”
“You guys, I know you're the underdog, but I'll tell you what, man, you got some of the best players in the world on your team, and you're representing this country, and I know you're going to play your hearts out, so let's go shock 'em all,” Biden said.
“You keep trusting in one another, play as hard as you can, and for you and your families, your teammates — and the whole country's rooting for you,” Biden went on.
Berhalter and the players thanked Biden for his call, made two days before Biden's 80th birthday.
“I wish I was there to see you, I really do,” Biden said. “Go, get 'em, guys. Just play your hearts out. I know you will. I know you will.”
Back in the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament, the United States opens against Wales on Monday, meets England on Friday and closes group play against Iran on Nov. 29.