American soccer fans are thirsty for some success at the World Cup, and just plain thirsty.
For that, Brick West Brewing was just the spot to watch the United State return to the big stage for the first time in eight years.
Never mind that it was Monday morning, more than 100 fans crowded in front of the big screen. For two hours they cheered and jeered until the U.S. men’s national team and Wales battled to a 1-1 tie in far-off Qatar.
Few soccer fans have been waiting as long for this as Trevor Farris, of Spokane.
Before moving west, Farris played collegiate soccer in Missouri. Determined to see the U.S. in the World Cup, he booked a flight to Russia for the 2018 event.
A few days later, the Americans infamously tanked with a loss at Trinidad and failed to qualify.
“But I went anyway, and got to see some great matches,” said Farris, who earlier this year thought about making it to Qatar.
“Then my wife had a baby six weeks ago, and … .” Farris didn’t need to say more.
When friends texted him about the event at Brick West, “I said ‘Sure, let’s watch some soccer.’ ”
Cheers filled the Brick West building, especially when Tim Weah pushed the ball into the Welsh net late in the first half to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Anxiety took over in the second half as Wales began to dominate, followed by higher anxiety after Welsh star Gareth Bale leveled the score with a penalty kick in the 82nd minute.
The cheers and jeers grew louder all the way to the 90th minute and 9 minutes of stoppage time, finally ending in the 1-1 tie. Next up for the U.S. in group stage is England on Friday.
For the U.S., finishing first ahead of England, Wales and Iran in Group B would probably mean avoiding a round of 16 match against Netherlands in the knockout stage.
Darrin Blume has traveled to Japan and Germany for World Cups in 2002 and 2006, but the Brick West watch party was the next best thing. He even brought his son.
“This has kind of been our plan, to take a day off work and to take him out of school today to watch soccer,” Blume said.
Conrad Malinak has plans that include a return to Brick West on Friday, and again next week for the match against Iran.
“We’re just going to have a good time,” Malinak said. “I’m just excited to see everyone’s reaction when we win.”
That didn’t happen, but the tie keeps the Americans in contention.
As the match ended, fans patted one another on the back and vowed to meet again on Friday morning.
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