Germans in Kansas City have rooting interest in game against U.S. in World Cup

06/25/2014 9:12 PM

06/25/2014 9:40 PM

Martin Heuser isn’t showing up for work tomorrow. He’s got a soccer game to watch.

“I’m the boss, so I have others scheduled,” he said.

That’s one of the perks of owning your own business. Still, when the U.S. and Germany take the field Thursday for a World Cup game at Recife’s Arena Pernambuco, Heuser is sure he won’t be the only one not going into work.

Heuser, owner of Affäre restaurant in Kansas City, is originally from Bonn, Germany. He moved to Kansas City in 2007 after living in Canada since 1994. Like the U.S. men’s national team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, Heuser now calls the United States his home. Unlike Klinsmann, Heuser will be rooting for his native country.

Heuser’s prediction for the game: it’s not going to be very exciting.

He said there is too much hype surrounding the game that he expects to be played more like a friendly. At least that’s how he thinks both teams should play.

“None of the teams need to win, so they’re going to play the ball back and forth, no fouls, no drama,” Heuser said. “They will just play the ball back and forth so it will be like a friendly game.

“Play tomorrow, keep it safe, nobody gets injured, no yellow cards, and then be strong in the next round.”

Felix Albl, a junior at Fort Hays State University originally from Bamberg in Bavaria, Germany, couldn’t disagree more.

“It’s going to be such a great game,” Albl said.

While he won’t get to miss work to watch it — he’s an intern at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial — he and his fellow employees already have computers set up in the office that will be tuned to the game. Albl moved to Kansas in 2010 when his father, a member of the German military, was stationed at Fort Leavenworth. When his family moved back to Germany two years later, he decided to stay.

His loyalty will be toward Germany on Thursday, but he admits that he roots for both teams when they aren’t playing each other. He wants to see the United States go far in the tournament.

“They are a good team. Nobody expected them to play that well, they have a good chance,” Albl said, crediting Klinsmann with the Americans’ success in the tournament.

“I think without him, they wouldn’t be as good as they are right now,” he said.

Heuser echoed that sentiment, calling Klinsmann “awesome” and he remembers how much fun it was in Germany when Klinsmann coached the Germans to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup.

Despite his prediction for the game, Heuser said he is glad to see how much soccer has grown in the United States, especially in Kansas City where Sporting KC has given fans a reason to cheer.

“They’re doing so well and that stadium is beautiful,” Heuser said. “I think (soccer) is building. Way behind football and baseball, but it’s on its way.”

While he will enjoy the day off tomorrow, Heuser hasn’t forgotten about his employees.

“I’ll leave them my laptop and they can watch (the game) in the kitchen.”

To reach Katie O’Keefe, send email to kokeefe@kcstar.com

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