Fan fever high among area soccer buffs as Team USA takes on Portugal
ASHWAUBENON – It was a game filled with emotions for several hundred U.S. soccer fans Sunday evening.
The throngs of people clad in red, white and blue clothing – and face paint – gathered at the Green Bay Distillery in Ashwaubenon to watch the match against Portugal.
The viewing party was put on by the Green Bay chapter of the "American Outlaws". That's one of two main support groups of US national soccer teams.
Some fans say they felt nervous leading up to the tilt, compared the first group play match against Ghana.
"More sense of urgency in it,” said Josha Khong of Howard, “We have to get some kind of points, even if it was a draw."
Heading into the match in second place, a win would guarantee a spot in the next round.
"We need the points. We got to advance,” added Khong. “If we win here, we're golden."
But that nervous feeling carried through to the first five minutes of the match, when Portugal's Nani drew the first blood.
There were plenty of ups – and downs – and rallying cries of support from the US faithful throughout the first half. At halftime, despite being down one-nothing, fans still had hope for at least an equalizer.
"But I think we're going to come out and play strong in the second half," said Mel Terrell of Green Bay. "Just calm down, we need to play our game."
After several scoring chances drew more chants and people from their chairs, a US goal in the 64th minute by Jermaine Jones really got people on their feet.
Clint Dempsey worked his magic from miles away in Brazil in the 81st, getting the pro-US crowd in Ashwaubenon on their feet, yet again, with the go-ahead goal.
Edginess turned into elation. It seemed that the belief that the U-S would win was becoming a reality. But fate had other plans, as Portugal evened it up with less than a minute left in play.
Despite the draw and downtrodden spirits, some fans with US soccer ties say they have hope the team will advance out of the so-called ‘group of death.’
"I think if anybody can do it, the USA can,” said Karen DeMerit of Howard, whose son Jay is a former player with the U.S. squad. “We might be the upset team of the year."
After nearly running away with a win against a proven Portugal team.