On Friday, the hopes of 32 nations rested in tiny plastic soccer balls housed in what could double as a large salad bowls as the FIFA World Cup draw unfolded in front of millions watching worldwide.
With the United States set for its 10th World Cup appearance, fans milled into Union pub partner Fado Irish Pub (15th and Locust) to see what group and which teams the Americans would be placed in heading into next summer’s tournament in Brazil.
What they witnessed was the U.S. getting pulled into what is now being referred to as “the group of death,” as they paired with Ghana, Portugal and mighty Germany.
In addition to the fans, philadelphiaunion.com was on scene at Fado to garner some reaction.
Fans intently listened to the rules of how the draw was going to play out. There seemed to be some confusion as to why certain teams were moving around in pots based on where they drew within their own confederation. Jury is still out on if the explanation given ever truly sunk in.
However, spirits were high given that the United States sat in Pot No. 3 with the rest of CONCACAF (Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras) and qualifying nations from Asia (Japan, Iran, South Korea and Australia).
That was until those same spirits saw the teams the United States would ultimately pair alongside...
...and then doubt, dismay and some more drink orders for the bartender ensued.
But many were hopeful; like Larry Spurrier, a U.S. fan and Union season ticket holder from Springfield, Delaware County, who told us that he and his son are headed to Brazil for next summer’s World Cup.
“I was disappointed at first, but I think we can advance,” Spurrier said. “I would have liked to see an easier group but you’ve got to beat the best to be the best, that’s the way I look at it. If you want to put yourself with the best in the world, you have to beat the best.”
Ryan Ellis from Philly chose to add to Spurrier’s statement with some very valid points:
“My initial reaction was definitely one of fear, obviously. But then you think about it and we are due [against] Ghana, we definitely are due, they’ve beaten us in two World Cups in a row,” said Ellis. “Portugal, after Ronaldo, who do they really have. Germany however, that will be a crapshoot. But I am confident, [U.S. national team coach Jurgen] Klinsmann definitely has the background and the knowledge of the German system so if we can sneak into the No. 2 spot; I am completely all right with that. It really depends on that first Ghana game, if we beat Ghana than I have a lot of confidence.”
Stuart Campbell, who during the Philadelphia Union season also doubles as an usher in the River End section of PPL Park is confident that much like 2010, the United States can shock the masses again.
“The key matchup, going in against Ghana it would set the tone without a doubt because it sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. Obviously I am a little biased; I would love to see the United States advance. If I am being realistic, I would say that Germany has a really good shot at the final. I think that Germany and Spain is a possible final. I would say that and honestly I think Spain could be toppled…then again you never know, because we are talking about the World Cup – and it’s always full of surprises.”
Union communications intern Alan Geesey contributed to this article.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org