Among cheers and over drinks, area soccer fans celebrate return of US men’s team in the World Cup

WORCESTER — A pass. A kick. A goal.

That sequence led to an explosion of cheers and “USA” chants Monday afternoon in the barroom of Funky Murphys when the United States national soccer team scored its first goal in eight years at a men’s World Cup.

Although the match against Wales was played in the tiny Middle Eastern country of Qatar thousands of miles and several time zones away, the roar from the goal passed through the walls of the Shrewsbury Street bar.

Soccer fans at Funky Murphys react to the first goal scored by the U.S. men’s national team against Wales during the World Cup Monday.

“That was awesome,” said Bruno DaSilva of Worcester, while holding onto a beer bottle. “I’m excited for this team.”

About 50 patrons — some dressed in red, white and blue — kept their eyes glued to the many TVs at the bar starting at 2 p.m., when the Group B match against Wales kicked off inside Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.

Team USA’s clash Monday was its first of three in this year’s edition of the elite quadrennial soccer tournament, which is considered to be the most important stage for the sport, pulling billions of viewers worldwide and surpassing even the Olympic Games viewership.

The monthlong event brings 32 teams from all over the world to face off in a 64-match culmination that often people like to refer to as “64 Super Bowls” because of the importance each holds.

“It’s a big deal and it’s been eight years for us,” said Nick Griner of Ayer. “I’m definitely looking forward to this one.”

The last time that the U.S. participated was in 2014, when the World Cup was held in Brazil.

Although the team failed to make it to the 2018 edition in Russia, it managed to qualify this time around after a series of matches over the past two years.

An opening draw

On Monday, the U.S. team only earned one point after the match ended in a 1-1 draw after Wales scored a balancing goal in the second half.

Yet, the fans at Funky Murphys stayed positive.

Fans at Funky Murphys watch the U.S. men’s national soccer team Monday take on Wales during the World Cup.

Between beer sips and appetizing bites, they spoke to one another, pointed at the TVs giving their best takes, laughed at jokes and moaned at missed opportunities.

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The reactions varied, but the hopes were the same while they all sat at the edge of barstools.

“We will make the quarters,” exclaimed Steven Butler of Worcester. “All I want is for them to do that much. They’re a young team but they can do it.”

Anticipating for soccer fans who push through the front doors at Funky Murphys every time a World Cup comes around, owner Cal Dolan introduced the Irish breakfast in the bar’s menu to supply soccer mornings with a hefty meal.

For $11, the meal comes in twos, according to Dolan, who said that each plate will have two eggs, two strips of Irish bacon, two Irish pork sausages, white and black Irish pudding, Irish baked beans, home fries and white toast.

They will open for the 8 a.m. matches and will serve breakfast until 2 p.m. every day for the duration of the competition.

Patrons at Funky Murphys watch the U.S. men’s national soccer team take on Wales during the World Cup.

Originally from Ireland, where he watched soccer since a young age, Dolan said that he had moved to the U.S. 30 years ago, eventually establishing Funky Murphys in 2004.

“Let’s hope the U.S. team does some damage,” said Dolan with a laugh.

Though typically played during the summer months, the World Cup was moved to late fall this year after the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) picked Qatar, where summertime highs can reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Team USA next faces England at 2 p.m. Friday.

Shawn Cumiskey, who was with his family at Funky Murphys on Monday, said that he will watch, but doesn’t have hopes for the match.

Earlier in the day, England thrashed the fourth team in the group, Iran, with a dominating 6-2 final score.

“I’ve got no illusions that they’re gonna beat England and a tie would be a win,” said Cumiskey. “But if they can get into the knockout stage, that would be neat.”

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Team USA World Cup watch party at Funky Murphys on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester


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