Chants repeating “U.S.A.” and “I believe that we will win,” echoed throughout The Boathouse in Myrtle Beach Tuesday as soccer fans watched the United States take on Belgium in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which has attracted crowds nationwide.
A sea of red, white and blue filled the bar with fans wearing small flags in their hair and large ones draped over their shoulders. There also was face paint, ball caps, sparkly hats, bandanas, headbands and themed t-shirts.
Perhaps the crowd was decked out because the bar offered discounts for wearing the nation’s colors, but if noise is a measure of spirit the cacophony made it clear, soccer fans were in Myrtle Beach. A constant hum escalated to cheers with each set piece, shot on goal, penalty or save by goal keeper Tim Howard.
The United States lost 2-1 in the extra time marking the second consecutive tournament exit in the Round of 16 for the United States, which was knocked out by Ghana in 2010.
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The clamor during the game paralleled the traffic to Soccer Locker over the last month, said store owner Ansel Lovell.
“This particular World Cup is different,” Lovell said. “Months of June when we’ve had a World Cup before there has been a buzz, but this is more of a roar right now. I didn’t see the type of business I’m having [during the World cup] four years ago. I’ve had the best June I’ve had in 20 years and a lot of it is directly related to the World Cup.”
Ryan Richard said he is a diehard soccer fan and was excited to see so many people turnout to watch the sport.
“Just to see everyone actually come together for a soccer game in the U.S.,” he said was the best part of the electric atmosphere at The Boathouse. “The world has always been excited about it but now that the U.S. is excited about it, it’s amazing.”
Connor Mahon is one such fan. He said he’s not a diehard fan, but not a fair weather fan either.
“I have been following this World Cup very closely,” he said. Mahon said his enthusiasm may wain without the United States in the tournament, but said he plans to continue watching.
Lovell said the World Cup gives validation to the sport which hasn’t always had such popularity and hopes it means more fans of game even if it never reaches a fever pitch like football games on Friday nights.