By: Rebecca Babicz// Salt Lake Tribune
For some Utah soccer fans, the World Cup is more like a stay-at-home vacation than a soccer tournament.
“I requested the days off back in January when they announced the games and I told my boss I’m not going to be in those days,” said Thomas Welker. “You’re not gonna see me. It’s been planned for six months now.”
Welker and his fellow members of the Royal Pride Real Salt Lake fan gathered Wednesday at Green Street to watch the U.S. beat Algeria 1-0, winning Group C and advancing to the second round of the World Cup.
“I figured [back then] I would need to take the day off to drown my sorrows or celebrate,” Welker said. “It’s so amazing, I’m still shaking.”
With an 8 a.m. kickoff off in the middle of the week and liquor laws not allowing alcohol to be sold until 10 a.m., many Salt Lake soccer fans wondered what the turnout would be like at the bar.
“I thought there would maybe be 20 people here,” said Ian Jones, who went to the World Cup in 2002 and has also experienced international soccer in Germany, where he works about three months out of the year.
Instead, about 300 people packed the bar.
“[Soccer] is a kids sport out here for a lot of people … Over here, they think of minivans and moms dropping their kids off,” Jones said. “In other countries, people’s families get together and cry over it.”
Although soccer is not America’s favorite sport, Green Street’s standing-room-only status proved Salt Lake fans are tuning into the game, even at early hours.
“I think [the turn out] has been really good,” said Mike Turpin, another member of the Royal Pride Real fan club. “We’ve been having a lot of house parties starting at 5:30 in the morning. I think I’ve missed maybe one or two games.”
As England had an equally must win game against Slovenia — which they won 1-0 and also will move on to the round of sixteen in the World Cup — there were a few Brits represented at Green Street.
“American soccer has improved so much over the past six years,” said Bobby Parrett from London who is traveling through Salt Lake City with his fellow British friends Paul Winterflood and Adam Sheldon.
The Brits weighed in on the differences between American soccer fans and the fans from back home.
“Americans like stats and things because of the way they’ve been brought up on basketball,” Winterflood said.
“It’s weird, defensive plays get cheered on a lot more [in America] than it does in England,” Parrett added. “There’s almost a bit more passion that comes through. You get things cheered for that you don’t in English football. It just means when you go places like [Green Street], you get a cracking atmosphere.”