Local soccer fans ‘believe’ as they watch US advance

It’s no secret that the world, including much of the United States, has World Cup fever. From the streets of Brazil to pubs in England to shop windows in Nigeria, people can’t get enough of soccer’s biggest event.

As Team USA took the field against powerhouse Germany Thursday, local fans crowded around TVs at home, work and their favorite sports bars to show their unqualified support.

“We’re going to win the whole thing because (Team USA) is the bomb-dot-com!” said Sydney Welch, 12, of Fort Mill, who was watching the game with her family and friends at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Baxter Village.

They wore red, white and blue and stuck temporary American flags to their faces. The kids chanted the phrase that’s become a mantra for U.S. fans: “I believe that we will win.”

“We’ve got a lot of American pride,” said mom Ashley Mantel, who watched with her family at Beef ‘O’Brady’s.

Plus, this was the only way to watch two games at once, said fellow mom Sandy Blythe. While the U.S. played Germany, Ghana took on Portugal. The U.S. team’s future in the World Cup depended on the outcome of both games.

“We play soccer at Discoveries, so these guys are our inspiration,” said Wade Blythe, 10, his eyes glued to the game.

The best part of a soccer match? Scoring goals, said Luke Mantel, 7.

And although USA vs. Germany only featured one goal (Germany at 55 minutes), there was plenty of drama and excitement for the young fans, who had watched every match they could of this World Cup.

“They have the best players in the world all competing in the same area,” Wade said.

At the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s bar, two Wells Fargo employees took their lunch break so they could watch the game. They’re not “soccer fans,” they said, but they are World Cup fans.

“It’s just like the Olympics; I care because it’s Team USA,” said Andrew Paolini. “I like the fact that it’s national.”

In Rock Hill, dozens of young soccer players took a break from their last day at Winthrop Eagles Soccer Camp to watch Team USA in Winthrop Coliseum. They cheered and yelled and gestured wildly in the last seconds of the game as the Americans missed scoring a goal by inches.

They wanted to make sure they all cheered on Team USA, said camp coach and Winthrop soccer player Sean Comer.

“They’ve been excited about the game all week,” Comer said. “It’s a fun way for them to end the camp.”

Among the young campers, walking around in socks and flip-flops, cleats abandoned by the door, one thinks he could play in the World Cup one day.

“I really like soccer, and I’m good,” said Jake Brabson, 9. “Well, I’m not that good, but I’m getting better.”

The U.S. team will retake the field Tuesday to play Belgium in the Round of 16.