Calgary-dwelling American expats watch as team falters in World Cup
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Interspersed with random renditions of ‘O Canada’ at Calgary’s Ship and Anchor Pub on Tuesday were occasional outbursts of “USA! USA!” as the American men’s national team vied for a berth in the World Cup quarter finals.
“We love the USA! Go USA!” said Ryan Pelzel, who’s moved to Calgary from Houston, Texas about a year ago for work.
Pelzel and a group of fellow American soccer fans had staked out prime seats on the Ship’s patio, in front of one of the high-definition televisions broadcasting the World Cup match between Belgium and the USA.
The last of the match of the Round of 16 saw the teams knotted at 0-0 after 90 minutes of regular time, largely thanks to a series of spectacular saves from American keeper Tim Howard.
“Howard’s off the hook,” Pelzel said as the game went into extra time. “Without the goalie, I don’t know what would happen. … He’s probably played the best game he’s played all tournament.”
American hopes were dampened early in extra time, however, as Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne scored just three minutes in, eliciting applause from about half the crowd at the Calgary pub and groans from the other half.
Phil Majcan was among those cheering the Belgians. An Argentina fan primarily, he said he was more rooting against the Americans than for their rivals.
“For this game, I just wanted to see the USA not go through,” Majcan said, conceding that the US team “has a really strong defence, which has kept them in it.”
A second Belgian goal 12 minutes later appeared to seal the American’s fate, but then Julian Green, the youngest American player, scored in the 107th minute, setting up a dramatic finish.
The Amercians found the equalizer of a free kick in the 114th minute but were stopped by a point-blank save from Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Even in defeat, Pelzel and his friends high-fived opposing fans.
“It’s great,” he said of the soccer atmosphere at the pub. “The Ship’s awesome.”