Running through muggy 90 degree weather in a pair blue khakis that might be too tight for my strides, a button-down shirt, and backpack rarely has never had a better reward than being able to view the U.S.A. play Belgium at Philadelphia’s oldest bar, McGilligan’s. I hardly felt alone while doing my business casual wind-sprints. The men and women of Philly were all scurrying inside. However, I would like to believe the heat to not be the antecedent eliciting their inspiring hustle. In my mind, these people were modeling the relentless pace seen from Michael Bradley who is the United States’ prized center midfielder. For those of you who missed out on the World Cup, Bradley made a name for himself by running almost equivalent to a marathon in four soccer matches.
Anyway, I reach McGilligan’s and find my friends Andrea and Marie. A local, hoppy beer was well within reach of every patron. Framed by American spirit, fried onion rings and hot dogs occupied the center of every glossy stained table. The masses spared not one square foot on two floors. Men in summer ties and powerful suit coats shared tables with body-painted die-hards. Geeky techies rubbed elbows with tattooed musclemen. The citizens of Philly put aside aesthetic differences and salary gaps to undeniably and fanatically support our nation’s best futbol players on their path to glory. Every man and woman assembled under one label, a U.S.A soccer fan.
The small town and university from which I originated never provided me with the context for instant camaraderie between such a wide array of people. Merely the presence of all those tightly squeezed fans captivated me. The cries of joy when our goalie saved a shot pushed me to the edge my seat while I sat, with dry, wide-open eyes watching our boys. The frustrated heckling when a referee failed to call a “blatant” penalty was contagious. Every one invited themselves to chime into the conversation about referees presumed personality or personal life. Overall, however, we kept the comments positive and upbeat for literally anyone affiliated with America. We cheered for the coach when he took a sip of water, we clapped when a player tied his shoe, we took a sip when the cameras focused on America’s fans in Brazil, and above all we rioted and celebrated extensively once Julian Greene became the youngest American to score in the World Cup. I have never hugged so many strangers or received harder high fives.
Even though America lost to Belgium 2-1, that game made it clear to me the amplification the city environment has on every event. The cheers and groans enthralled me and were shared by every fan cramped into the tension filled World Cup climate. You can’t get that sitting on your couch with some friends. The city gave me a new identity that day. The salience of experiencing the same emotions and sharing the same vision of an American World Cup victory gave me a new sense of pride for being a piece of something much bigger than myself. I am resident of Philadelphia. I am a supporter of American soccer. I am a citizen of the United States.