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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

July 14, 2014 at 7:14 AM

Joe’s World Cup journey: Back home in Seattle at last

BY JOSEPH SIMS

Seattle native Joseph Sims, 21, traveled around the country during the World Cup in search of the heart and soul of soccer in the United States. Read about his journey in the Take 2 blog.

I was so happy when I saw the Seattle skyline rise up in the distance last week. I have seen some incredible places, met some interesting people, and thoroughly enjoyed my trip, but there is nothing like coming home to my favorite city in the world.

For the third-place game Saturday, I went to the George and Dragon, Fremont’s famous soccer pub. This wasn’t my first time at the English pub. I watched my favorite club, Arsenal, play rival Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup’s third round there in January. Arsenal supporters took up one side of the bar and Tottenham supporters the other for the 9 a.m. match. The two sets of fans didn’t interact much, but the atmosphere was electric, and by 11 I was celebrating along with the rest of the right side of the bar. Arsenal walked out 2-0 winners.

So I had high expectations. But it was a quiet day at the George and Dragon for the third-place game. While there were a lot of people there, only a couple were wearing Brazilian colors, and only two were in Dutch orange. The place was quiet. After the humiliation at the hands of the Germans, Brazilian fans were more subdued than usual, and two Dutch goals in the first 15 minutes didn’t help.

Still, I had fun. The drinks and food were good, and I spent the match talking about soccer with my parents and two Brazilian men sitting next to us. The Dutch won bronze with a 3-0 victory – the first time any team has been shut out in the third-place game since Bulgaria lost to Sweden 4-0 in 1994 – and the crowd exited rapidly.

I had been away from Seattle for the entire World Cup as I made my way around the U.S. in my search for the heart of soccer in this country. I wanted to know what had been going on in my hometown during the competition, so I asked the George and Dragon’s bartenders.

The Fremont soccer bar was packed for many matches of the World Cup, especially in the group stage, they said. One woman told me she had to work every day for the first two weeks to deal with the crowds. Everyone showed up full of hope to watch their teams. As the tournament went on, some of the crowds thinned as teams were eliminated, but the showing has been strong for the entire competition.

Aside from the expected masses of Americans and Englishmen, there were huge contingents of Germans, Argentinians, Dutch, Brazilians, Mexicans and Colombians. As the tournament progressed, a lot of people also showed CONCACAF (North and Central America’s soccer federation) solidarity with Costa Rica. But one of the bigger surprises was the large numbers of Iranians and Algerians, who took up the entire outside deck for their teams’ matches. Iranians, in particular, were a delight to host, bartenders said, dancing and cheering throughout their short stays in the tournament.

Some fans and moments stood out. A Brazilian woman was dubbed “Tambourine Lady” after she brought the instrument to a match and banged on it so hard it broke. The bartenders – and probably many of the patrons – where grateful.

Brazilians showed up in the biggest numbers and bartenders said they were the rowdiest fans. Dutch fans filled the bar with orange, with scarves and feather boas everywhere in earlier games. Orange feathers could be found for days after a Dutch game.

Joseph Sims, 21, graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla in May with a degree in politics.  The graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle has an obsession with soccer that has taken him all over the globe, from the World Cup in South Africa, to the Emirates Stadium in London, to the Sounders-Timbers rivalry right here in Seattle. Follow his journey around the country during the World Cup to find the heart and soul of soccer in the U.S. in the Take 2 blog.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. Opinions expressed are those of authors, and The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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