The anguish was there in Las Vegas. Soccer fans were doubled over and disappointed by the Americans loss to Belgium 2-1 in extra time. The disappointment made the front page of the Review-Journal on Wednesday.
Fans were packing it in at the big sports bars all around Las Vegas, but not so much in Pahrump. As the tournament started I went in search around the town at the big casinos to see if any of them were even doing anything for the World Cup Soccer tourney and came up with nothing (I am not implying the local bars in town did absolutely nothing for the World Cup so don’t be calling me complaining).
According to Sean Leblanc, a local soccer expert, the sport has come a long way since 1950 when the U.S. team beat England and only one reporter from St. Louis covered the story.
Even though more reporters covered the World Cup from the U.S. this year, the sport still has a long way to go in Pahrump.
On Tuesday I figured I would find some die-hard fans at the Pahrump Nugget. I called the Nugget up to see if anything was going on and they said they had the U.S. vs Belgium game on every screen in the casino. So I hopped into the car and went in search of fans. The Pahrump Nugget Sports Book had seven fans lounging in front of the large screen TVs. The rest of the fans were spread out around the casino in small groups.
The U.S. was down a goal 1-0 in overtime and the fans were not happy campers. I saw a small crowd around the bar near the sports book and just started talking.
I ran into Leblanc at the sports book.
“This is a super important game for soccer in America to keep on becoming popular. Here in America the sport is becoming more popular. In 2010 there was really nobody watching and now we have more than one person in Pahrump watching the game so it is gaining in popularity even here,” LeBlanc said.
The Belgium team scored another goal making it 2-0 while I spoke to Leblanc.
Cosby Watson is usually a football fan, but he came into the Nugget to watch the U.S team advance and was disappointed with the game. “I was hoping that they would advance,” he said.
Paul Jones, a big soccer fan from Chicago, was watching the game at the Nugget with about three other fans at the stage where the Nugget had a giant TV screen going.
“I have followed the tourney and I am a moderate fan. I am in town for some Front Sight training and I came in to watch the game. I planned my trip so I would be here to watch the game. I think the U.S. will have a pretty rough time of trying to pull off this game. There is 15 minutes left and they are down a goal. If they can tie it and get a penalty kick they have a chance,” Jones remarked.
Jones also agreed with Leblanc and felt soccer has been picking up in the states for the past 30 years.
The soccer situation in town is not grim by a long shot especially with the younger generation. The last I checked the local American Youth Soccer Organization was thriving out in Pahrump with anywhere from 600-800 kids coming out to play each year. Soccer at the high school is also very popular since the Trojans girls team won two consecutive state championships in a row. The Trojans boys team is also thriving under a very popular coach, Don Boulden, who has the team pumped up after a good inaugural season.
In the country, popular teams such as the Seattle Sounders organization continue to spread the word that soccer is here to stay. The Sounders parade through Seattle every home game and fill the stadium to capacity whenever they play.
The large influx of Latin Americans filling our country has also brought a love for the game to this country. I really don’t think soccer will replace the NFL or MLB anytime soon as the American pasttime, but it is gaining in popularity.
Pahrump has over four girls playing with colleges now. If anything, the popularity of the sport is helping to get our youth interested in seeking a higher education. The sport is popular among the younger generation, but not so much with the senior crowd.
So it begins, the long summer drought of sports. Since the U.S. is now out of the tourney, the interest in the World Cup will fade.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup in Los Angeles in double overtime. It was the longest game in franchise history. The NBA finals finished too with the Spurs taking the title. Now all you have is golf and baseball.
Who will win the pennant and go to the World Series? The Dodgers are again in the running, but are still behind the dreaded San Francisco Giants by a half game.
In the American League West, the Angels are three and half back behind the Oakland A’s. Apparently the National League West and the American League West seems to be a battle between northern and southern California.
Toronto leads the pack in the American League East and Detroit leads the American League Central. In the National league East, Atlanta is at the top and Milwaukee leads the Central Division.
Thankfully, the NFL football season is just around the corner.