slides: World Cup Correspondent: American Support Skyrocketing
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
My group attended the US Soccer "Night Before" Party the day before the game. There were between 1,000-2,000 people there. Overall, it was a great event that started with watching Bosnia Herzegovina vs. Argentina on the big screens set up throughout the venue. Then there was some chanting led by Sunil Gulati and various music performers who had to contend with US supporters chanting and cheering during the music.
SEE SLIDES FROM BRAZIL BELOW
On match day, Natal was crawling with Americans. Estimates in the local papers had it around 20,000 Americans in Natal that day. Everywhere you went, there was red, white, and blue. Every sighting of the flag solicited cheers.
Before the game, the American Outlaws threw a pre-match party at a restaurant/bar 2 blocks from the stadium, which looked to have between 2,000-3,000 people. Fans were standing on tables and chairs as there wasn’t any room in the large patio area on the ground. For hours, the group chanted, high fives buses, and danced getting ready for the game. The group then marched to the stadium, easily making their presence known.
Inside the stadium, Americans outnumbered the Ghanaians at least 3 to 1, maybe more. The Ghanaian cheering section was lively, but any organized American cheer drowned them out. This was night and day compared to the South Africa World Cup. The place erupted in disbelief after the first goal. Strangers jumping up and down, hugging each other, some even crying. The rest of the game was very tense. Clearly, Ghana had the better of the run of play and you could feel the tension in the stadium. After the Ghana goal, everyone was pretty down, only to be sent into a frenzy a few minutes later after the Brooks goal. Many fans stayed well after the game ended, still cheering, posing for pictures, and dancing around.
After the game, we walked through a line of trucks filled with hundreds of riot squad police and passed a small group of protestors, a bit of sobering reality after and amazing match.
Natal looked to be crawling with lively Americans after the game, but my group had to catch our flight. We did run into Marcelo Balboa in the airport though, which was awesome.
Compared to South Africa, the American numbers have clearly grown, and you can see the difference in the level of organization now and the effect it's having.
See the slideshow below for pictures from Ryan and Alex Norocea, another GoLocal World Cup correspondent.
Related Slideshow: Americans in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup
Photos from Brazil and the 2014 World Cup.
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