Linda Robertson: Tension melts away from U.S. soccer fans after team advances
06/26/2014 7:57 PM
06/27/2014 1:34 AM
Jubilation flowed like Guinness at Fado Irish Pub in Mary Brickell Village.
American fans decked out in stars and stripes jerseys, scarves, hats and face paint roared when the U.S. soccer team’s World Cup match against Germany concluded.
Chants of “U-S-A!” spilled from the packed bar and were echoed by sweaty patrons on the terrace Thursday afternoon even though the United States lost, and not very artfully at that, 1-0 to Germany in rainy Recife, Brazil.
But with some help from Portugal, which defeated Ghana 2-1, the United States survived the Group of Death and advanced to the Round of 16 for the second consecutive World Cup. For soccer fans who consider themselves outliers in a country obsessed with the other type of football, such progress is monumental.
“We’re not only excited about the next game but the next decade because we’re going to try to win the next World Cup!” said Max Ramos-Paez, a leader of the local chapter of the American Outlaws fan club. He had just finished singing America the Beautiful louder than Bruce Springsteen sang Glory Days on the blaring sound system.
Ramos-Paez was wearing an Outlaws construction helmet that symbolizes “how tough and durable the American spirit is, and how the U.S. team personifies that spirit.”
He was embraced by fellow Outlaw Allison Noffsinger, tearfully delirious in her red, white and blue tutu and earrings, red-striped socks and American flag sunglasses. She had returned to Miami two days earlier from Brazil, where she saw the United States beat Ghana — and got a photo with Clint Dempsey.
Noffsinger grew up playing soccer in Mississippi. During a year as an exchange student in Peru, she played with the taxi drivers. Her passion for the game has grown ever stronger since she became a club founder, so much so that she felt “like I had been punched in the stomach” when Landon Donovan was cut from the U.S. team.
“I’m sure I have ulcers now,” Noffsinger said of Thursday’s cliffhanger. When Germany’s Thomas Mueller scored on a scything shot in the 55th minute and Ghana, playing simultaneously on another big-screen TV, tied its score 1-1 in the 57th minute, there were tense moments inside Fado. When Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya collided and collapsed on the pitch, a hush descended. The United States seemed to be losing energy, perhaps due to its 9,000-mile Brazilian odyssey. Ghana had the potential to bump the United States out on goal differential.
But when Portugal rallied, cheering began anew. Fans jumped up and down, raised their pints and whooped like they'd won the lottery.
The results stood. There was no killer goal as was the case on Sunday, when the shocked reaction to Portugal’s stoppage-time goal for a draw with the United States, knocked fan Eric Corey out a second-floor window at Fado. He landed on an awning that saved him from serious injury.
“We respected Germany a little too much early on and Michael Bradley has had trouble creating chances, but overall we got the job done,” said Christian Parrilla, who was messaging and talking with friends during the lunchtime game. “At the draw, nobody expected the U.S. to get through.”
Alex Bengtsson, a University of Miami physical therapy student from Munich, wore his Germany jersey and predicted Die Mannschaft would rev up for its fourth World Cup title.
“The core group plays for Bayern Munich, and we have a lot of unity on this team — if not a lot of consistency so far,” he said.
Dave Krupski was best-dressed in the full U.S. kit featuring the banded jersey — known as the Bomb Pop.
“I like it better than the pageant sash jersey of 2010 or the Waldo jersey,” said Miamian Krupski, a “reformed lawyer” and ultra runner who played midfield at Yale. “This game raised some warning flags for the U.S., but this World Cup is wide open. Why stop at the Round of 16?”
He will be back — wearing those tomato-red shorts — for Tuesday’s match against Belgium.