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Angels among teams with soccer fever

Angels among teams with soccer fever

CHICAGO -- Several Angels players were bummed that Monday's game at U.S. Cellular Field was rained out, not necessarily because it prompted a doubleheader, but because they'd start playing earlier on Tuesday -- and wouldn't be able to see the United States soccer team take on Belgium in the World Cup.

Yeah, they're hooked, too.

"Truthfully, I wasn't a big soccer fan," said Angels catcher Hank Conger, whose South Korean team was knocked out early. "But seeing everybody in here being so into all the games, even if it wasn't the U.S. playing or anything like that, is making me kind of watch the game, too, and kind of understand the game more. So this is the most I've ever understood the rules and understood the meaning of the game, and how passionate guys are."

The same can be said for many of Conger's teammates, who have been glued to televisions for the past several weeks watching every soccer game that comes on before pregame stretch.

Mike Trout has become a big supporter of the U.S. Men's National Team, getting his own customized jersey sent to him by the club on Monday. Tyler Skaggs has Mexican roots, so he bought a jersey and watched intently before they were eliminated in the round of 16. And video coordinator Diego Lopez was delirious when his Argentine club scored in extra time to move past Switzerland on Tuesday.

"I think one of the biggest things for us during the season is just trying to keep the clubhouse loose," Conger said, before the U.S. was eliminated from the World Cup with a 2-1 loss. "This is one of those ways where it just kind of keeps us loose, keeps us talking, as a team, everybody in here watching the game."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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