You might have thought a Broncos playoff game was on TV at the Dillon Dam Brewery Tuesday afternoon in Silverthorne. While likely not as packed as a sports bar in New York or Chicago, the red, white and blue was out in force supporting Team U.S.A. in what proved to be a heartbreaking round-of-16 elimination game against Belgium. With each big Tim Howard save and each U.S. break or set piece, a cheer erupted from the crowd.
“It definitely has increased business during the hours of the game,” restaurant manager Kim Nix told the Daily. “We counted 80 extra people we wouldn’t have had last Thursday (for the U.S. vs. Germany game).”
The brewery opened an hour and a half early to accommodate fans for the 10 a.m. start for last Thursday’s game.
For Tuesday’s elimination game against Belgium, Nix said crowds started rolling in at 1:30. By the 2 p.m. kickoff all seats near the TVs were taken.
“It’s a lot more fun watching with a crowd,” said regular Summit County visitor Jody Craig, of Kansas City. “But we get just as crazy at home.”
Cheers and groans continued throughout the tense game. The the entire bar jumped to its feet with the U.S.’ best opportunity to take the lead in the closing minutes of regulation.
Between cheers of “U-S-A” and “Shoot it,” from others in the crowd, a nervous Craig was heard saying, “This game is going to make me an old woman.”
The faithful stayed on the edge of their seats even after Belgium went up 2-0 in extra time. They were rewarded with a U.S. goal and a number of chances at scoring an equalizer in the final seconds.
Whether the U.S. team’s performance in this year’s World Cup will leave a lasting mark on the growth of soccer in the United States is yet to be seen, but early indications seem to point in that direction. So lookout Ann Coulter, here comes the nation’s “moral decay.”
The U.S.’ final group matches — against Portugal and Germany — recorded TV ratings as the Nos. 1 and 2 most-watched World Cup games in U.S. history, and Major League Soccer continues to expand.
For those gathered at Dillon Dam Brewery there didn’t seem to be any doubt.
“There’s definitely more interest in soccer as a whole,” Daniel Hogan, dressed in red, white and blue, said during halftime of Tuesday’s game.
His wife, Jill, agreed, proclaiming their home town of St. Louis a “soccer town.”
The pair was in Summit visiting family with their young daughter Jenna, who kept her fingers crossed for much of the second half and was clad in a U.S. team jersey complete with red, white and blue nail polish.
While reaching the quarterfinals wasn’t meant to be for the U.S. this time around, the Dillon Dam crowd appeared happy with an exciting finish and proud of a U.S. team that exceeded tournament expectations.