If you hate soccer but clicked on this, PLEASE STAY. This is for you.
Hate it or love it, soccer is a great sport. If you hate it, I’m sorry, but the truth is you’re vastly outnumbered on this earth. I used to be one of you. I used to loathe watching the sport. I also used to despise golf and hockey. Now on any given Sunday you can find me taking in the final round of a golf tournament or listening to the electric play-by-play of Doc Emrick, and yes, many Saturday and Sunday mornings you can find me watching soccer. I’m not going to sit here and try and convert you if you don’t like watching the sport. That would be an exercise in futility. What I can sell you on, however, is patriotism and beer. That’s easier than your sister after too much tequila.
I just came back from a soccer bar after watching my home country get dismantled by Messi and Argentina. It was like if 1999 Pedro Martinez faced a college baseball team. If I’d been sitting on my couch watching this, I’d probably have turned over to see Clay Buchholz pitch for the Red Sox (painful) or even tuned into Nick At Nite for some Full House nostalgia. It was simply difficult to watch the US national team try and play on the same field as the best team in the world. But I sit here having had an excellent night, and the reason is the venue I watched the game at.
There’s a soccer bar in Cambridge that draws crowds. Plain and simple. It’s a Liverpool bar primarily, so I personally go there mostly when Tottenham plays the Reds (#COYS), but if there’s a big soccer game on, this bar is playing it. I can’t stress this enough: if there’s a big soccer game, find your city’s closest soccer bar and post up for it, especially if it’s a US national game.
As soon as the anthem started playing at NRG in Houston, the entire bar burst into chorus, raucously belting the Star Spangled Banner, with a deafening “USA” chant following. The moment, in a word, was chilling. Mix in a solid buzz from the pre-game beers, and everyone was amped for the game, like Ray Lewis himself had spoken directly to the bar before kickoff.
Now, you may know very little about soccer, and that’s okay. You ever watch a hockey game with a guy who gets excited about a blue line to blue line pass with speed bursting through the neutral zone? Or seen a guy get a half chub from watching a pitcher set a hitter up by mixing pitches artfully, changing speed and eye level? Sometimes you know why your friend is riveted, even if the result isn’t ideally what they wanted. But it was the way in which the sequence unfolded that got the excitement level ratcheted up. You may not know what to look for when watching soccer, and I understand that. I sympathize with that. I promise you, if you go to a soccer bar the crowd will guide your excitement. They will dictate the pace, and you will follow. When a good ball is played and people start to sense a big play developing, the noise begins to crescendo in a way that’s sure to make your nipples hard. Trust me, you won’t be let down.
Last night, unfortunately, we were not graced with a goal of our own, though on four separate occasions the small faction of Argentinians in the corner of the bar collectively lost their minds when their footballers systematically took apart the US defense and netted two goals in each half. To say I was jealous would be an understatement. I know the feeling of being in a soccer bar when the home team scores; it’s utter chaos, an absolute electric atmosphere. I remember two years ago for the World Cup when the US played Portugal, I went to the Boston House of Blues where they showed the game, and the place was packed to the gills. When we scored, the building shook. Beer was launched from the upper deck. The crowd broke into the greatest “USA” chant I’ve ever been apart of. This will be what it’s like at a soccer bar when the home crowd scores.
Saturday night at 8 p.m. EST, do yourself a favor and march your ass to your closest soccer bar, post up with a patriotic beer (I’d pick Sam Adams, but that’s just me being a homer), and root for the national team. I promise, if you don’t have fun, I’ll Venmo you for your beers..
Image via YouTube