WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Tuesday afternoon felt like a Saturday night on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains with nearly every bar packed with soccer fans rooting on the USA team, which fell 2-1 in extra time to Belgium to end its World Cup run.
Many fans were decked out in their best -- and, for some, the strangest -- red, white and blue outfits. P.J. Eisma wore a red shirt, blue suspenders and bow tie and a tall, bedazzled red, white and blue hat.
Bobby Bannon of White Plains said he has donned his furry headdress, U.S. soccer jersey and the body-length American flag as a cape for every USA game during the last three World Cups. Tuesday at Ron Blacks was no different.
“This year blows all others out of the water,” said Bannon, who grew up in Katonah. “It’s like we reached finally another level of fanship. ... Hopefully it will spark some younger kids getting into soccer.”
Mike Lambert of Valhalla, a junior varsity soccer coach at White Plains High School, is especially encouraged by the soaring interest in the USA team’s World Cup run. He had coached modified soccer at White Plains for the last eight years.
“It feels like it just swept the country,” Lambert said, adding that he thinks the country's interest in soccer would have exploded if the USA team advanced Tuesday.
Over at Buffalo Wild Wings, Domonic Saljanin, who attends Westchester Community College, started a “I believe that we will win” chant during the game with his friends. His friends Eric Minsker, Andrew Murphy and Matt Ghelarducci wore American Flag-patterned shorts.
Tuesday, Beechmont Tavern was packed during the game, and its bartenders wore American flags for capes, bandannas and scarfs. Every television there, and at every other White Plains bar, was playing the game between USA and Belgium.
Without a large American flag handy, Ryan Haker, of White Plains, wore a PBR flag as a cape instead and a PBR T-shirt to show off the American colors at O'Connors.
Christina Nitti said she had the best outfit with a white skirt peppered with red and blue, and that her table at Brazen Fox had the best soccer fans anywhere.
Like many Tuesday, Nitti took the day off from work to watch the game. Others, like Chris Ciotti of New Rochelle left work early to catch the full game, which kicked off at 4 p.m.
“This is like a Saturday night in here,” he said. “I feel like most of the people here just got off of work. It’s not stopping anybody from coming here and watching this game.”
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