Hundreds pack Piazza at Schmidts, watch U.S. soccer squad lose

Posted: July 03, 2014

IN SAM FARINA'S eyes, the hundreds of fans who packed the Piazza at Schmidts courtyard in Northern Liberties last night to watch the end of the U.S. team's World Cup run had two options after the nail-biting loss to Belgium.

"We can either go home or go to the bars and drink the depression off," joked Farina, 23, as hordes of disappointed fans vacated the plaza, leaving a layer of crushed Pabst and Budweiser cans in their wake.

For Farina, a classroom aide from Chester Springs, and her group of friends, the latter was the better option. They headed to Gunner's Run for drinks to ease the pain of the 2-1 loss.

"My heart's broken," said Farina, who sported a red top and blue jeans. "We did not get up on offense."

Friend Lindsey Damberg, 22, a recent Syracuse grad who also lives in Chester Springs, chimed in: "The U.S. was disappointing. Not enough pressure."

Even more bummed by the loss was Karl Fletcher, 25, of Queen Village, who wore nothing but shoes and an American-flag speedo - "I wear this all the time," he said with pride - as he watched on the Piazza's big screen from the center of the plaza.

"It feels a lot like being punched in the stomach," said Fletcher, a psychology researcher. "It's really heartbreaking."

An overwhelming smell of beer, coupled with a slight stench of weed and some flying red-white-and-blue beach balls filled the air over the Piazza crowd as the game - its first 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw - wound down in extra time. Swaths of the crowd gave up and walked off as Belgium scored its second goal in the 105th minute, making the score 2-0.

But Fletcher and other faithful U.S. supporters kept the faith, watching intently. Two minutes later, the U.S. delivered, putting a point on the board.

"YEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Fletcher thundered, his arms raised over his head.

The crowd alternated between chants of, "USA! USA!" and, "I believe that we will win," from that point on - but all the faith in Philadelphia wasn't enough to push the U.S. to victory.

For Farina and her friends, the U.S. team's disappointing showing wasn't a total loss. The group saw the silver lining in a good run for the World Cup by the American team and in a sunny afternoon spent hanging out and drinking with friends.

"It sucks," said Jack Braithwait, 24, a carpenter from Maple Glen in Farina's group. "But I'm happy we got as far as we did."

On Twitter: @morganzalot


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