BY NANCY RICKERT
Saúde from Recife, Brazil! The scene here is very festive and clean and polite. Lots of countries being represented here over the past few days. We have watched three games a day at local eateries, at Fan Fest, and finally one in the Arena Pernambuco! The huge upset of Costa Rica over Italy was great to see live! The atmosphere was pure elation for the Ticos! Getting to the stadium was easy – taxi, metro train, bus, long walk. Organized chaos – just follow the crowd!
The Fan Fest venue in Recife is a small plaza with a nice shopping mall with a food court next door. The view from here overlooking Rio Capibaribe waterway is fantastic! From this venue we watched the English lose to Uruguay, Ghana draw with the mighty Germany, and the amazing U.S. draw with Portugal. Who knew!?! The crowd had a smattering of U.S. fans who were heard loud and clear chanting ‘U-S-A!’ throughout the match. The first time we heard any real chanting except for the Mexicans who seem to be everywhere and always chanting.
The range of emotions during the U.S. game was crazy. To see our local boys Deandre Yedlin and Clint Dempsey on the pitch working together to score the second goal still brings tears to my eyes. Beers went flying, U.S. fans screamed and danced with delight, and even the Brazilians were surprised at our enthusiasm and gave us some room to enjoy the moment. Which was dampened all too soon by Portugal’s final goal. The crowd dispersed and many other fans from other countries were comforting us with the fact that it was still a terrific result. And they were now also rooting for us against Germany. Yay!
On Monday, as we prepare to go to the all important Croatia vs Mexico game, I am feeling humble for the hospitality and warm welcome we have received by so many Brazilians and fans from other countries, and I feel great pride for our U.S. Men’s Team and their performances so far. To have soccer/futebol be the catalyst for so many conversations with complete strangers from all over the world, and even held in different languages, has felt like a great big embrace for the U.S. and our soccer.
Here’s to more hugs and high fives all around!