June 26, 2014 at 3:59 pm

World Cup fans cheer on U.S. team at Campus Martius

World Cup draws thousands to Campus Martius Park
World Cup draws thousands to Campus Martius Park: Soccer fans descended on downtown Detroit during a free viewing party Thursday.

Detroit — While United States soccer fans, known as the American Outlaws, packed the stands at Arena Pernambuco, in Recife, Brazil, excitement about the team’s deciding World Cup match against Germany descended on downtown Detroit during a free viewing party Thursday.

Clad in red, white and blue, fans in Cadillac Square chanted, “I believe that we will win!” as they watched the U.S. soccer squad vie in its final group stage match. And although the matched ended in a 1-nil loss to to the Germans, fans were still excited to advance escaped the “Group of Death” and advance to the Round of 16.

“It was awesome,” said U.S. fan Alex Oberg, a Wayne State student who wore star-spangled spandex underneath his U.S. soccer gear. “Glad it It was very cool to be a part of.

Oberg was one of about 300 people who attended the Thursday event hosted by local minor league soccer team Detroit City FC, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Fathead and Opportunity Detroit.

“As soon as I heard about it, I said I’ll be here tomorrow,” Oberg said. “With the Detroit City Football Club, there’s been a real soccer resurgence in the area, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to see how many people came down.”

Fellow student Tyler Lasser added: “Detroiters are hardcore fans for everything. That’s the cool thing about living in the city”

U.S. soccer diehard Sean Swanson, an Austin, Texas, resident who is originally from Ann Arbor, was in town on vacation and decided to check out the unique event, which organizers promised would continue for as far as the U.S. advances in the tournament.

“It's a cool event,” Swanson said. “I don't think they've ever done anything like this before.”

Greg Holman, 30, of Detroit, heard about the event on social media and walked over from his job at Cadillac Tower, which is next door to the event site.

Holman, who wore a Clint Dempsey jersey, was one of the hundreds of fans jumpingin in excitement at a couple shots on goal and began chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" during a corner kick in the late first half.

"It's a good showing with the amount of people who are coming out, soccer is really growing," Holman said.

The first half ended scoreless much to the U.S. fans liking against a heavily favored German team.

"I'll take a draw," Holman said with a grin at half.

Anxiety rose in the second half. U.S. fans raised their hands to rejoice after an early first half save, but it quickly turned to despair as a German rebound turned into a second chance goal.

Minutes later, U.S. fans applauded the announcement of Portugal player Christiano Ronaldo’s goal over Ghana in a separate game, thathad deciding implications for the Americans as a Portuguese win meant a secure spot for the U.S.

U.S. fans didn’t give up on their own game though. Through the final minutes, some clinched their Uncle Sam-esque hats as two late game shots from the U.S. players gave German players a scare in the final minutes.

But in the end, despite a loss, many fans walked away content to move on.

Although no one was perhaps happier than Griffin Scillian, a Detroiter who donned a German national team jersey. The self-proclaimed fan of both squads said he enjoyed the lively atmosphere and the fact that both teams would move on to the next round.

“Honestly, it was very attentive,” Scillian said. “There were no seats, but if there were, everyone would be sitting on the edge of them.”

The next U.S. game against Belgium will be broadcast on ESPN at 4 p.m. Tuesday

tbriscoe@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2541

Quicken Loan employees Kevin Irwin II and Cass Strzynski and hundreds of soccer fans cheer for the USA team. / Daniel Mears / The Detroit News