U.S. fans catch soccer fever, but team slumps to defeat

Tue Jul 1, 2014 9:12pm EDT
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By Daniel Wallis

(Reuters) - American soccer fans decked out in red, white and blue flocked to stadiums and giant TV screens on Tuesday to see their team knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium in a heart-breaking game.

Strong performances by the U.S. team in Brazil had ignited passions in a country not known for its love of soccer, and free viewing parties were held from coast to coast while fans crammed into sports bars and restaurants.

The Belgians scored twice in extra time and looked to have the game put away when the underdog Americans scored a late goal. But time ran out and the U.S. squad lost 2-1.

"All in all, Belgium deserved the win, but I'm pissed as hell," said Christina Psomopoulos, 17, a high school student who watched the match in New York's Bryant Park with two American flags painted on her face.

Showing the spread of World Cup fever in areas more often obsessed with a different sort of football, some 2,000 fans had lined up an hour early at the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys - the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas - to watch on one of the biggest video screens in the world.

A massive crowd wearing the colors of the American flag chanted "U-S-A! U-S-A!" throughout the game, but to no avail.

More than 10,000 also attended at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and many of them warmed up for the game at tailgate parties in the stadium's parking lot.

Karl Epson, 25, and his girlfriend, Becky Oliver, 23, drove a couple of hours from the Bloomington, Illinois, area because they said they wanted to be part of history.   Continued...

USA fans react during the 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match between Germany and the U.S. at a viewing party in Hermosa Beach, California June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson