–Ezra Salkin for FlaglerLive

Not long after arriving at Houligan’s in Palm Coast for the United States National Team’s first match of the tournament on June 16, which resulted in a dramatic 2-1 victory over Ghana, there were two young men sitting apart from the rest of the group. As a reporter, I was a man apart also They were fans. Not soccer fans, but football fans. And they were dressed for a revolution. Houligan’s was full. If the crowd was there for the game, they did not know how to be part of what was rippling across the rest of the globe. In any event, the room was full. I sat with a Fat Tire, not knowing if there was a special brew that should mark the occasion and if there was, would a bar like this have it. As I sipped, a subtle change was taking place. A small, noisy congregation took a back corner of the bar. “Lets go USA!!” one of the true fans screamed. Two pretty, bright-eyed girls sat with the fans while everyone else stood. The girls looked like they wanted to be interested. I gathered myself and walked stiffly around the table to the smallest-looking patriotic bandanna wielding member I could find, hanging on the outskirts of the group. Chas Lines, 30, originally from Toronto, living in Palm Coast for the last eight years, said that rare strangers aside, everyone else was tight in the group.

All were united in their shared passion. Houligan’s isn’t merely the best spot in town to watch the game, he said. “It’s the only spot.” Teresa Macklin, a legal secretary from Atlanta and a former high school soccer player, said the scene was crazier at the last World Cup. There was a guy with his own vuvuzela, those unbearably loud horns that mad watching 2010 matches difficult, and he brought his own speakerto blow the long horn into, she recalled…Palm Coast has a sizable Portuguese population, so it made sense to go to the Portuguese-American Cultural Society on Palm Harbor Parkway, for the second United States Men’s National Team against Portugal on Sunday. Portugal was coming off its 4-zip destruction by Germany while the US was coming off its close and dramatic win over Ghana, their conqueror of the past two tournaments. If anything, thiswas to be an even more dramatic game, and I was curious to observe the difference in energy between Houligan’s and this club.

Unlike at Houligan’s, everyone’s eyes there were glued to the TV, though while a more sizable crowd they weren’t as loud as the smaller rowdy American group of fans. The TV, which was not as large as the ones at the sports bar, hung on a protruding section of the far wall, adjacent to the bar, flanked by trophies and flags. A foosball table sat in the corner. Next to a line of steel buffet-style food warmers, a man in a Portugal cap sat with the full size red and green flag draped over his back, his foot propped on a chair. Not far from him sat County Commissioner Frank Meeker and his wife. She had two small flags, one American, one Portuguese, lying on the table next to wine and beer and plates filled with some very ethnic and flavorful-looking foods from the nearby food warmers. Meeker had just started talking about his appreciation for the game when the president of the club, a balding, olive-complexioned man, well-muscled for his age and sporting a gray goatee, walked over and stopped him. The anthem was starting, the American one, and we hadn’t even noticed. It was that time. So we immediately straightened and clutched our hearts. I had no hope of talking to the club president until halftime. “Unless you want to be carried out, don’t sit for the Portuguese anthem,” Meeker, leaned in and said to me….

The full article can be read here: http://flaglerlive.com/68006/world-cup-palm-coast/

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