American fans show the world they love soccer too

Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:43pm EDT
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By Michael Kahn

NATAL Brazil (Reuters) - Americans are starting to get a little rowdy at the World Cup in Brazil and that's just dandy for fans whose devotion highlights a growing football culture in a nation slow to embrace the world's most popular game.

Whether they call it football or soccer, U.S. supporters reveling in Monday's 2-1 win against Ghana are helping foster the kind of tribal and community ties that make the sport, and especially the World Cup, an indispensable event for many nations across the globe.

Guy Cross, an American born to an English father, has long supported the U.S. national team but said in the early days going to a game was a frustrating experience for someone used to a livelier atmosphere.

"I remember France in 1998 and sitting in the stands where people didn't know any songs," said Cross. "They couldn't even sing Yankee Doodle Dandy.

"But it's definitely evolved over the last 20 years. The support is more intense and broader and people are more knowledgeable about the game."

Ahead of the U.S. opening match against Ghana in Natal, face-painted and flag-waving fans gathered at a local pizzeria near the stadium.

The dress code ranged from traditional team kit to super-hero chic to creative uses of an American flag as hundreds of boisterous fans balanced their beers and took turns batting a beach ball around a large hall.

Jordan Armstrong, 32, ready for the game dressed as the Duff Beer man from the Simpson's, said he sees a growing commitment from U.S. supporters who have adopted traditions from home and abroad to fuel a burgeoning soccer culture.   Continued...

Chris Valcarcel, 19, (C) watches the 2014 Brazil World Cup Group G soccer match between Ghana and the U.S. at a viewing party in Hermosa Beach, California June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)