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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


U.S. victory increases support for team

At some point between the time the beer stops flowing and the coffee starts percolating, soccer fan John Wiesendanger will take a seat on his barstool with a stars-and-stripes sticker affixed to his chest.\n"Sleep is for wimps," he said.\nIndeed, Wiesendanger is one of those rare Americans who will do almost anything to watch the World Cup.\nThe Philadelphian counts himself among the true soccer nuts, a member of the overwhelming minority of Americans who love watching the sport, and loved it even before the United States posted its biggest World Cup victory in 52 years last week, a 3-2 upset over Portugal.\nAmerica's next game was Monday at 2:30 a.m. EDT against the home team, South Korea, a country 13 time zones ahead of the eastern United States. Everyone knows American sports fans love a winner, but now, the big question is whether casual fans will stay up late -- or wake up early -- to watch those winners play soccer.\nIn South America, Europe, most of Asia and parts of Africa, this wouldn't even be a question. The World Cup comes around every four years, and it is the most highly anticipated sporting event on Earth.\nAmericans, meanwhile, love playing soccer. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association says more than 18 million people play in this country, leaving it behind only basketball in terms of team participation.\nBut watching the sport? That's a much different picture.\nA recent CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll showed only 5 percent were planning on watching "as much of the World Cup as possible" this year. America's victory last Wednesday, which began at 5 a.m. EDT, was watched by about 998,000 households on ESPN2 and 440,000 on Spanish-language Univision -- a great showing for soccer at that time of day, but still paltry compared to the millions who watch the sport worldwide.\nAmerican coach Bruce Arena hopes the big win over Portugal will spawn interest in the sport at home, but knows the obstacles are huge. He talked about it before his team opened play.\n"The magnitude of this event is not understood by the American public," Arena said, before quickly catching himself and adding: "If I say anything, it sounds like sour grapes."\nOf course, one win does not make the tournament a success. But with the United States' record in past World Cups, the upset over the fifth-ranked team in the world -- the United States is ranked 13th -- can certainly be viewed as a reason to get excited.\nAmerica's previous victory in World Cup play came in 1994, a 2-1 upset over Colombia, when the United States played host to the tournament. That produced a trip to the round of 16 for the first time since 1930. In 1998, the United States went 0-3 and finished dead last -- 32nd out of 32 teams.\nBefore 1990, the United States hadn't even qualified for World Cup in 40 years. In 1950, the U.S. team defeated England 1-0, and until last week, that was viewed as the biggest victory in the country's spotty soccer history.\nThe winner of the South Korean-American match could advance to the second round depending on what happens in the Portugal-Poland match to be played later Monday. The loser will have to wait to see its fate determined. The United States plays Poland on Friday at 7:30 a.m. EDT.\nHoping to capture the momentum of the American win, several barkeepers say they'll be keeping the doors open for Monday morning's game. Thus far, they've been serving the die-hard soccer fans, but now they're gearing up for more.\nPub owners Debbie and John Bayliss in Seattle will set up a beer garden outside their bar and project the game onto a wall. It will allow an extra 150 people to watch the game.\n"A guy came in and said, 'Marriages are being ruined. No one's going to work. No one's at my office'" Bayliss said.\nIn Arlington, Va., bar owner Joe Javidara can't serve beer between 1:30 and 7 a.m., but he's expecting such a big crowd, he's asking the city for special permission to set up TVs on the sidewalk outside.\n"We've had people drive hundreds of miles," Javidara said. "They sacrifice the sleep. They want to be here."\nBack in Philly, Wiesendanger already has his day, his week, the rest of the month planned out -- regardless of how the United States does.\n"The games in the middle of the week are tough," he said, as he simultaneously nursed a glass of beer and a cup of coffee. "But I'll be blowing off work to watch the U.S. play"

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