After 94 minutes of play, there weren’t many emotions left for the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena.
As they filed out into the street, donned in red, white and blue from head-to-toe, the crowd was subdued that the U.S. had advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup. There was no yelling, no chanting and no overt celebration, just a group of soccer fans relieved that their team had escaped the "Group of Death."
USA vs. Belgium
Tuesday, 2 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena
Doors open at 1 p.m.
The Arena was opened to the public Thursday for the U.S. Men’s National Team match against Germany. Each lower section facing the jumbotron was nearly full of fans leaning forward in their seats, biting their nails and holding their hands over their mouths, a palpable nervous energy buzzing throughout.
Zacc Sayer, wearing a new U.S. jersey, said at halftime that opening the arena was "awesome."
"We get together, have camaraderie and chant. It’s better than watching it on your computer," Sayer said.
Logan Clifford said following the U.S. team this year has been special, creating a feeling that can’t be found in other sports.
"There’s something about soccer that grabs you deeper than other sports," he said.
The U.S. looked tentative throughout, never really threatening the Germans aside from two late back-to-back chances.
German forward Thomas Muller scored in the 55th minute, sending a wave of dread throughout the arena crowd, but a 2-1 win from Portugal over Ghana sent the U.S. through despite a 1-0 loss. The loudest cheer of the day actually came from a flash of the Portugal-Ghana score, when it was revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo had scored in the 80th minute.
Trey Alvey, with an American flag cape draped around his neck, described the entire match as "nerve-wracking," pointing out that U.S. fans may still be hungover from a devastating last-minute tie against Portugal last Sunday.
"It’s disappointing. People are still a little let down from that Portugal match," Alvey said.
There was excitement sprinkled throughout the match, especially during the handful of U.S. corner chances when the crowd collectively stomped its feet and yelled together.
Still, this match was ruled by a feeling that can really only be found in a sport like soccer, when even a loss can count as a long-term win.
For a team and a group of Utah fans emerging from an emotionally exhausting match, enthusiasm was subbed out for solemnity.
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