MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Well over an hour before the first kick was made or the first chants rang out, the three bars at O’Daly’s were packed with fans eager to cheer on the United States Men’s Soccer Team in their match against Portugal.
“Man, it’s awesome. It’s been four years of work and progress to get these types of fans down here for this, but it’s been like Christmas morning us prepping for it. We couldn’t get down here soon enough,” Matthew Lemond, owner of O’Daly’s, said.
The local chapter of the soccer group the American Outlaws organizes watch parties for all U.S. matches, but they said the turnout for the World Cup has been far greater than what they could’ve hoped for.
“Just from the stuff we’ve been doing over the past couple of years, these are three bars that are packed to the gills for these games and it really is a great sight,” Josh Giraldo, president of the American Outlaws, said.
And it certainly was a nail biter. The first half remained scoreless for the U.S., with Portugal posting their first goal in the first five minutes of play. But going into halftime, fans kept the hope alive for a victory by the red, white and blue.
“Unfortunately it only takes one mistake in soccer to change the entire game, but you know, the U.S. is here to play, and they’re going to take it back and they’re going to take this,” Outlaw member Jamey Ward said.
“We’re attacking well and I believe. I believe. He believes. We all believe,” Andrew Haiflich, a new soccer fan said.
Close to the end of the match, it looked promising for the U.S., posting two goals in the last 15 minutes of play, which were met by a hearty round of applause.
But a literal last minute goal by Portugal ended the game at 2-2 and stopped the people at O’Daly’s from leaving with a smile of victory.
At this point, it’s going to take either a win or a tie by the U.S. against Germany for them to advance to the next round of competition. But the fans who turned up tonight, both new and old, will be there to cheer them on.
The kickoff for the game against Germany will be at 11 a.m. this Thursday.