ATLANTA - Atlanta soccer fans jammed into local bars and restaurants Thursday to watch the US World Cup match. They left with a mix of disappointment and hope for the second round.
From Little 5 Points to Dunwoody, at every bar and restaurant with big-screen TVs, it was standing room only. There was a two-hour wait at the Perimeter Taco Mac just to get in the door. At northeast Atlanta’s Brewhouse Pub, the crowds spilled on to the sidewalk.
Some fans said they've always loved the sport but others admitted to Channel 2’s Diana Davis they've only recently started watching.
In the sea of red, white and blue, Davis found one fan for Germany’s soccer team. Don Jennings said that he fell in love with the sport living overseas.
“No timeouts and I mean you’re constantly moving up and down the field. It’s so fast,” Jennings said.
Germany beat the U.S. 1-0 Thursday to win Group G, but the Americans held onto second place when Portugal defeated Ghana 2-1 in a game played simultaneously.
The Germans, three-time World Cup champions, finished with seven points, while the U.S. had four after allowing a 95th-minute goal against Portugal on Sunday in a 2-2 draw.
Portugal also had four, but the Americans advanced from the so-called "Group of Death" because their goal difference was even and the Portuguese were minus three.
The crowds and the outcome raises hopes for soccer's future in Georgia. Atlanta gets its own Major League Soccer franchise in 2017.
The expansion team, owned by Arthur Blank, will share the new downtown stadium with Blanks’ other team, the Falcons.
James Bradely, the co-president the American Outlaws, a booster group for the U.S. soccer team, is betting on Atlanta’s Major League Soccer team’s success.
“What he’s [Arthur Blank] been able to do for the Falcons and turn them around, I’m 100 percent confident he will be able to make soccer work in this town. He's not going to have to try very hard. There's already a lot of fans here,” Bradley said.
But will Atlanta pro soccer succeed where other non-traditional southern sports like ice hockey have failed?
The World cup comes just once every four years. Fans crowding and screaming for Thursday match told Davis they’re hooked.