Hundreds of newly minted soccer fans were swarming sports stores today, inspired by the U.S. World Cup team’s surprise first-round victory and hoping for a repeat on Sunday evening.
“Interest has really been high since they kicked off for the first game,” said Gus Collazo, assistant manager at Modell’s Sporting Goods at 16th and Chestnut streets, where World Cup gear was selling like hotcakes Sunday to fans traveling to nearby bars to cheer for the U.S. against Portugal.
“It’s a country thing, like the Olympics. Nobody really watches gymnastics except for when the Olympics comes around,” Collazo said. “Of course you’re gonna have the fairweather fans. But everyone’s in it for the U.S.”
Orders for Team U.S.A. jerseys and T-shirts came in so fast that some Modell’s stores around Philly were running out of stock.
“Today probably ninety percent of the phone calls have been all, ‘Do you guys have the jersey?'” said Kyle Morris, head cashier at the Chestnut Street Modell’s.
Fans of Colombia, Brazil and Mexico have also been buying up their countries’ team jerseys from Modell’s — in fact, only one Mexico jersey was left in the story by Sunday evening.
For fans watching the game Sunday night, wrapping themselves in the flag was part of the fun.
“It means a lot,” said Luky Morales, 26, of her Team U.S.A. get-up, while watching Fado’s broadcast of the game from the second floor of the parking garage on Locust Street. “We have differences between us in this country, but this brings us all together.”
“We’re underdogs!” said Cely Cardone, 32. “The whole world never believes in the U.S. But even if we lose, whenever we get a goal, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
The Fado World Cup block party was chock-a-block with hundreds of fans in patriotic gear by 4 p.m., two hours before game-time, so fans started filling the parking garage next door. All were cheering for South Korea against Algeria (Korea fell, 4-2) and chanting U-S-A during breaks in the game.
The block party was sponsored by the Philadelphia Union, the Union’s support group Sons of Ben, and the Philadelphia chapter of The American Outlaws, which supports the USA national team.
“It reminds us why we love this,” said Fado manager Casey Neff. “Just listen to that crowd, the passion, the energy, the cheers — it gives me goosebumps.”