If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. That might have been the motto for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The small country of Ghana knocked out the ‘Yanks’ in the last two World Cup tournaments. This year the United States hoped for change. They had the nationwide support behind them, including the Northstate.
A boisterous crowd showed up Monday to Bleachers Sports Bar and Grill in Redding. It was not as large as some of the gatherings in major cities across the nation, but the loyalty was equally apparent.
"With the national team playing and against the same team that knocked us out of the last two World Cups, you've got to come support the home country," said Nick Webb of Redding.
It was the opening match for the red, white and blue against the African nation of Ghana and it started off fast.
Some fans, like Tori Bachik of Redding, did not make it in time for kick-off. Thus, she missed the opening goal by American captain Clint Dempsey just 30 seconds into the match.
"I missed it. I was driving here and I walked in and everybody's freaking out," Bachik said.
She had to wait, along with the few dozen who gathered inside the bar. The size caught Nick and Abby Webb by surprise.
"I didn't know if there'd be no one here or if this place would be packed,” said Nick. “Honestly, on a Monday afternoon, I'm not sure what else you'd be watching at a sports bar."
“It was easy for me, I'm a teacher,” Abby said laughing. “I'm on vacation."
The folks inside watched intently and waited for a chance to cheer once again. Their hopes for a victory were on the brink when the equalizing goal was scored by Ghana’s Andre Ayew in the 82nd minute.
Anxious moments followed, but not for long. The fans inside the restaurant let loose in celebration about four minutes later. The hero moment came off the foot of John Anthony Brooks, who scored off the bench to give the United States a 2-1 lead.
"So much excitement,” Bachik said. “I was standing on my chair and was afraid I was going to fall off and hit the table."
It was a similar thrill for Nick Webb.
"It was just nuts. [My] hair was standing on end," he said.
They could have stayed home but chose to celebrate with each other and sharing in the joy of a World Cup win.
"It's so fun to be around everybody and cheering in the excitement,” said Abby Webb. “Cheering each other on and sharing the yells and the screams and the jumps and just the intensity of it all."
The United States takes on Portugal as group play continues Sunday. The game starts at 3:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.
NOTE: Former Chico State soccer star Chris Wondolowski did not play in Monday’s game. He was held on the bench and not used as a substitute in this opening game.