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Arlington Watches U.S. Men’s Soccer Advance in World Cup

(Updated at 3:50 p.m.Summers Restaurant in Courthouse was saturated with beer, World Cup fans and support for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team this afternoon. Bargoers were on the edge of their seats before the game between the U.S. and Germany even started.

“This is, like, the biggest game of my life,” said Joyce Batka, a soccer fan since kindergarten and supporter of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann since he played for the German national team in the 1990s. “I’m really torn. I’d love it if there was a tie today so that both teams advance.”

The Germans defeated the U.S. team, 1-0, but because the U.S. lost to Germany by only one goal and Portugal, which defeated Ghana, lost by four earlier in the tournament, the U.S. advanced to the Round of 16.

Batka planned weeks ahead to take the day off from work and watch the game, much like Wes Cronkite, who had his day off scheduled since December. Batka and Cronkite were two of the thousands of soccer fans, new and old, who ditched work today to pack neighborhood restaurants with TVs from noon to 2:00 p.m.

“I haven’t missed a World Cup game since 1994,” Cronkite said. Cronkite was sporting a U.S. jersey, and others showed support with American flags, Hawaiian leis and other displays of team pride.

The United States defeated Ghana, 2-1, to open the tournament last week, and was beating Portugal 2-1 until 94 and a half minutes into the 95-minute game, the Portuguese scored to force a tie. If the U.S. had held on, they would have advanced regardless of their result against Germany.

“They could have closed it out last time,” Courtney Friedman, a soccer fan for five years, said while wearing an American flag poncho, “but that makes this game extra special.”

Although neither team scored during the first half of the game, curses and expressions of frustration filled Summers with each German shot American goalie Tim Howard blocked, leading many fans to pay closer attention to the Portugal-Ghana game. A man with a vuvuzela paced and yawned near the bar.

“They’re not even trying anymore,” a man in the crowd said at the beginning of the second half. “The game is dead.” Germany scored its first and only goal of the game before he finished his sentence.

“These Germans are very boisterous,” Dave Endres, who was at a bar in Tysons on Sunday for the U.S.’s game against Portugal, said.

For the rest of the second half, the crowd was quiet apart from shouts of disagreement at “unfair” calls from the referee, and one man who chanted “U-S-A, U-S-A,” after Ghana scored its only goal on Portugal.

The U.S. team will now face the winner of either Belgium or Algeria in the Round of 16 on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. It’s the first time in U.S. Soccer history that the men’s team advanced out of the group stage in two straight World Cups. In 2010, The U.S. was eliminated by Ghana in the Round of 16.

Despite the loss, the bar crowd still clapped, cheered and shouted “U-S-A, U-S-A” at the end of the game. Emotionally-drained fans, overall, were all smiles at the end result.

“It was still good,” bar patron Francisco Lainez said. “I mean, they lost, but they still get to the next stage.”

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