Washington, DC — It was a thrill — a two-half game that could have gone either way.
And while the United States men’s national team (USMNT) drew 1-1 against Wales in their first World Cup game in more than eight years on Monday, for many American fans, the excitement began right from the start and didn’t stop until the final whistle, regardless of the outcome.
“It was unbelievable,” said 33-year-old Allan Hutchins when he heard the US national anthem at the World Cup. “Ah-may-zing, absolutely amazing,” he added, emphasizing every syllable.
Hutchins was among dozens of American fans who gathered in an outdoor park on DuPont Circle in the heart of Washington, DC, on Monday afternoon to watch the US team step onto the pitch at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.
As soon as the US national anthem came to an end, songs of “USA, USA” and “I think we’re going to win” burst out of the crowd among the audience.
However, Hutchins was not entirely satisfied with the end result. He said the USA should have won because the team dominated the game for a long time and took the lead, only for Wales to make up with a late penalty kick.
Vladimir Guzman, another US fan, also said he wasn’t happy with the draw, but he was happy enough to see the USMNT in Qatar, especially since his home country Bolivia had not qualified for the World Cup since 1994.
“Why should I be disappointed? I think we played great,” he told CNN Breaking News.
As soccer — known as soccer in the USA — has become increasingly popular over the years, the World Cup is attracting the attention of people across the country.
Spectators are adjusting their daily schedules, and some cities are even changing regulations to accommodate the tournament. In Washington, DC, for example, the City Council passed an emergency measure that allows bars and restaurants to be open 24/7 during the World Cup.
In DuPont Circle on Monday, cheering fans roared, jumped and hugged as American striker Timothy Whea placed the ball past the Welsh goalkeeper in the back of the net to improve the team 1-0 in the 36th minute.
The fans, who wore jerseys and waved the flag, were not deterred by the cold weather as they got together to watch the game.
“It took a long time,” said 21-year-old Mamadou Wone about the USA’s return to the World Cup. “We missed something last time and it was kind of heartbreaking for me. But at least we’re back and hopefully we can go as far as we can.”
Egyptian-American Youssef Ibrahim, who was wearing a US team shirt with an American flag sticker on his cheek, was one of the most visible fans of the watch party. He was 11 years old the last time the USA took part in a World Cup.
“Everyone has been waiting for this moment for eight years,” Ibrahim told CNN Breaking News. “It’s just a crazy feeling.”