59°F
weather icon Clear

American fans arrive in droves for US vs. Belgium match

They turned out by the tens of thousands, some painted in red, white and blue, waving flags and chanting “I Believe!” in city parks, stadiums and sports bars from coast to coast on Tuesday to watch the U.S. national soccer team play Belgium in the knockout round of the World Cup.

Some were die-hard soccer fans. Others were newcomers, spurred on by the rising tide of support for the national team in the world’s biggest tournament.

They left without what they wanted: a win.

From Texas to Chicago to California, fans watched nervously as the U.S. and Belgium played 90 scoreless minutes before Belgium scored twice in extra time for a 2-0 lead.

The United States responded with a goal but couldn’t tie the match to send it to penalty kicks. After 120 minutes of soccer, the Americans’ World Cup was over. America, in the middle of its World Cup frenzy, got a reminder that soccer can be a cruel, cruel sport.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Adam Graves, a 39-year-old special needs teacher who stood among about 2,000 fans sweating in the 95-degree heat in Austin, Texas, at a city watch party in a park near downtown.

“What a roller coaster. Just when you thought we were out of it, we were back in it. That’s what I love about soccer,” Graves said.

Others were more distraught.

“I thought we were gonna blow through this. I mean, I knew Belgium was good, but I didn’t think we were gonna go out like that,” said Sierra Kaufman, 19, of Redondo Beach, Calif., who had red, white and blue painted on her face.

“Half of these people came here just to dress up in USA stuff but I really wanted them to win,” she said.

Tuesday’s game was the fourth for the U.S. in Brazil as it tried to move deeper into the tournament. With every game, the crowds swelled as die-hard soccer fans joined the newcomers.

Each game pulled in more fans: The U.S.-Portugal game drew 24.7 million television viewers overall, and the 18.22 million who watched on ESPN were the most the network has ever attracted for an event not involving American football. The Germany game averaged 10.7 million viewers, making it the third-most watched World Cup game ever on the network.

The swelling enthusiasm forced cities to make changes to accommodate crowds. In Chicago, home of the U.S. Soccer federation, officials moved a game watch event from a public park to Soldier Field to accommodate an expected crowd of 20,000 or more.

Even in 90-degree temperatures, fans flocked to watch the big game. In Washington, there were misting stations at the block-long Freedom Plaza to keep fans cool. That wasn’t a problem at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where thousands watched the match in the air-conditioned home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Crowds sang the national anthem together and it was hard to find a seat at game time at Freedom Plaza. Marie Davenport, 76, set up a folding chair with a good view of the big screen.

“I think that after this World Cup Americans are sold on soccer,” said Davenport, who thought the scene and crowd’s enthusiasm made it a better choice than her living room.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world. We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails. Here are seven ways predictive input can improve. 1. Recognizing names from previous emails Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to […]

Movie posters might soon be based on your clicks

You may have thought you left Blockbuster behind, but the basic way we browse movies hasn’t changed all that much. We peruse poster after poster, kind of like walking the aisles of a ‘90s-era video store. That one poster image, meant to appeal to as many people as possible, is often all we see before […]

What I’ll be covering at NAB 2018

The National Association of Broadcasters show kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.  The show focuses on new and emerging technologies and trends in relation to the media and entertainment industries. As it’s not open to the public, I’ll be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to share some of […]

EXECUTIVE TRAVEL: Forget Strip flash; some prefer lake’s panache

If you get called to a board meeting at Lake Las Vegas, you might want to bring your swimsuit. That’s the term Westin at Lake Las Vegas marketing director Matt Boland uses for upright paddleboard races, one of many team-building exercises offered regularly at the resort.

After $4,700 in live poker career winnings, James Romero, 27, wins nearly $2 million

It was a 15-year celebration of The World Poker Tour at Bellagio for the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. The largest field size in WPT Five Diamond’s history was created when 791 entries were tallied, and it was James Romero, 27, of Portland, Oregon, who won his first WPT title.

Auto electronics at SEMA and AAPEX: A brave new world

The Specialty Equipment Market Association celebrated its 50th annual SEMA show at Las Vegas Convention Center this month by showcasing a car culture of “do-it-yourself” garage mechanics who share a passion for customizing vehicles.