Teaneck—During the World Cup match between the United States and Portugal on Sunday night, the excitement of the international soccer competition was contagious. Every time America scored, Gotham Burger erupted into pandemonium, with everyone cheering and screaming for their team. When Portugal scored, with 30 seconds left in the game, to tie it up at 2-2 off of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s beautiful assist, everyone sat together in stunned silence. The excitement deflating out of the room was almost tangible.
Avi Roth, a Teaneck resident and the owner of both Gotham Burger locations in Manhattan and Teaneck, was moved by the intensity of the event. “This is an experience that you don’t normally have,” he said. “Everybody gets into the spirit,” during an event like this, he added. The World Cup viewing party in Manhattan hosted about 80 people, while the game was on all screens in the Teaneck location as well.
First played in 1930, the quadrennial month-long summer competition has grown into the world’s premiere soccer competition. Every four years, it briefly turns Americans into the rabid fans of Europe and South America.
Soccer, or, as it is referred to in every other country of the world as football, has had its popularity steadily grow in the United States in recent years. Now, viewing parties, such as the ones hosted by Gotham Burger, have become common throughout the country.
Even for those watching from home, the World Cup brings a feeling of togetherness when everyone is united in cheering for their country. It’s the feeling that people around the whole of the United States are doing the same thing, watching the same game, sharing in the same excitement and pride.
That feeling of unity was amplified by the viewing party. “When America scored, a couple of people were just outside the restaurant. Hearing the noise, the people ran in to watch the replays,” Roth said.
Roth discussed the overwhelming appeal of the World Cup, noting that he wasn’t previously a particularly enthusiastic soccer fan. However, the energy of the passionate fans changed his mind. “For people who are not so into the game, it makes it much more intense to watch it with other people,” he said.
The game opened up with a dominant showing by the Portuguese. The Americans were unable to complete a simple pass. After a mishap in front of the American goal, Portugal scored to take a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
After the goal, the United States settled down and took control of the game. Time and time again the Americans would have a series of beautiful passes, only to be denied. The United States continually passed the ball up the right side of the field, taking advantage of Portugal’s weak left fullback.
At the half, Portugal still led 1-0.
In the 64th minute, the United States finally broke through, with a beautiful shot by Jermaine Jones from outside the box off a Graham Zusi corner kick. Game tied, 1-1.
In the 81st minute, the United States attacked down the right side once more. A pass from DeAndre Yedlin on the right side went to Michael Bradley on its way to Zusi. Zusi passed the ball into the middle, straight to Clint Dempsey who knocked it in with his stomach. 2-1, USA.
The United States held Portugal in check until, with 30 seconds left in injury time, Portugal’s Ronaldo completed a perfect pass from the right side, resulting in a header past goalie Tim Howard to tie up the game. Portugal managed to salvage a point from the match. The final score was 2-2.
As the JLBC went to press, the United States was set to play Germany on Thursday at noon. Play by play will be shown on screens at both Gotham Burger locations.
Sushi Kaplan is a JLBC intern, an incoming sophomore at Frisch, and a huge sports fan. Check out his sports blog at sushionsports.wordpress.com.
By Sushi Kaplan