BY MICHAEL LEICHNER
The airport wait before the flight to Natal set the tone for the trip. The U.S. fans took over the small terminal and the majority of the seats on the plane. This included a group of guys wearing homemade USA basketball warm-ups doing a “layup line” near the gate.
We got a few hours of sleep at our hotel and headed to the pregame party with hundreds of other fans. We spent the time watching Germany demolish Portugal and got more excited about our chances.
As we walked up to the stadium, the red, white, and blue began to multiply. The pregame atmosphere was like a party and everyone seemed to be cautiously optimistic. We reached our seats, and the singing and chanting only increased.
The reaction to Clint Dempsey’s early goal was like an explosion. It was one of the only times that getting sprayed with beer didn’t feel so bad. The rest of the game felt like holding on for dear life as the team tried to battle through the injuries and humidity.
The equalizer seemed destined to happen at some point, but it still felt like a punch in the gut. Pulling ahead shortly thereafter unleashed a bigger and wetter celebration. After the final whistle, we were sweaty and dirty but happy the team finally defeated Ghana.