FAIRFIELD, Conn. – As Argentina made a last-minute goal Tuesday to beat Switzerland, 1-0, Team USA fans at the Colony Grill in Fairfield were preparing to watch their favorite team take on Belgium in World Cup soccer action.
A group of friends from Trumbull was headed to watch the game at Anna Liffey's, the Irish pub on the Post Road, Anna Liffey’s, but went to Colony to begin their celebrations.
“This is our chance,” said Rich Deecken. “Finally Americans are accepting soccer as a national sport.”
For Deecken and friends Matt Ricci and Marco Nobili, cheering for the USA was a reason to dress up with American flags over their shoulders and their American soccer jerseys. Deecken said that if America were to beat Belgium, he would run through the road with his flags.
The last time the United States made it past the Final 16 in the World Cup was in 2002, losing in the quarterfinals to Germany.
This year the American team is strong, Deecken says, especially with all the injured players back on the rooster.
“I think we could beat Belgium,” said Nobili. “We’ve got great players.”
Clint Dempsey, captain of the USA Team, “is a classic American,” Deecken said, and is playing fantastically, along with every other member.
To Ricci, the whole tournament is exciting, and he said this is the year for America to shine. “It’s time we’re good at soccer,” he said.
The atmosphere is more gripping this year, said Stratford resident Ryan Swoszowski, and that excitement for American soccer has spread to his head.
He spent just under an hour to take the time to paint his head and face in red white and blue for the game. He completed the look with an American flag around his shoulders as he headed to the bar.
“It’s not going to be an easy game,” Swoszowski said. “But we can pull off being the underdog.”
Despite the optimism of the Fairfield fans, Team USA fell to Belgium, 2-1, and was eliminated from the World Cup.