Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dream Is Over...for local sports bars

The 2-1 loss by the U-S to Ghana in World Cup 2010 is bad news for local sports bars. Seeing England and Mexico lose over the weekend doesn't help either. Still, we can expect some local bars to offer World Cup action through the next two weeks for soccer fans, or those who are looking for a place to cool off.

This past weekend, I decided to visit three different places to compare how they celebrate the World Cup, after two games at the Streets of London Pub. Before I get to that, I noticed something else.
It's starting to bother American sports fans that our soccer team lost to Ghana in extra time, 2-1.
They're concerned that we let the other team score first, and we had to make a comeback in all four games of the tournament.
They wonder if the team will get better for 2014 because our top players are getting old, and maybe we need a new coach by then. They want changes to be made so that we'll finally be at the level of Europe and Brazil.
In other words, the USA finally cares abut soccer.
Not quite as much as Arena Football, but we care now. We're almost England, or maybe Nigeria.
Remember, we really didn't care about soccer until England 1966, followed by two pro leagues and even TV coverage. Pele helped in the '70s, but not enough to give soccer a foothold. After all, most countries have soccer as their only major sport, with nothing to compete. They're the ones who do the best in soccer. In America, four sports, celebrity ballroom dancing, and the Olympics get our attention before soccer does.
Univision and Cable TV have changed all that. So have Twitter and Facebook, which can spread opinions faster than the angriest tabloid newspaper.

So, we'll look forward to who wins the Cup this year. Lost of interesting possibilities are coming, like maybe a Brazil-Uruguay semifinal that's 60 years of revenge in the making, or maybe an outsider making the final four like a Japan or Ghana. If Brazil does win it all, it has a chance to repeat while hosting the Cup four years from now. Sounds almost automatic, doesn't it?
For Brazil, sure. France and Argentina pulled it off, but it's not easy.

So, let's get to my tour of sports bars hosting World Cup viewing parties:

World Cup Fever at Devere's

Concerned USA fans

I saw the first half of USA-Ghana at DeVere's, an Irish pub in midtown. It's much bigger than the Streets of London, but the crowd wasn't in the mood to chant or shout. Since Ghana scored the first goal, and the U-S was desperate to score, that made sense.

Wearing USA bunting

Then I walked over th the MVP Sports Bar, which moved a few blocks to 21st street. These guys were much louder and spirited. Some wore bunting which is similar to the flag, but is more commonly seen as decorations for baseball games. They also had chants like "America, F*ck yeah" and "Ghana-rhea"

Happy fans

The crowd was really pumped when the score was tied. When Ghana got the goal early in extra time, the mood was much different.

The end of the magic

I was surprised how excited the crowd was for this. As I left I saw someone in the men's room baning on the wall, angry about how we lost. One other fan said he was glad he's Mexican. He still had that team to root for, as they prepared for Argentina the next day.

For that game, I went to Zocolo's, a Mexican restaurant located at the site of a former car dealership. It's quite fancy, but was filled with Mexican fans and a sprinkling of Argentine supporters.

This ain't a small pub

Just Wanna Bang On My Drum All Day

Once Mexico lost, this gal had the last laugh.

Doing the Maradona twist

She was joined by two other fans, and a woman who waved a small Peru flag.

So, I will settle for watching the rest of the Cup at home, until the final on July 11th. I'll go back to Zocolo's because they promise a lot of hoopla plus samba dancers. I guess they've already decided who will reach the final.

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