The Full 90

Scenes from a watch party, Part II

When the World Cup schedule was made, there were some delicious opening encounters.

The United States had England. South Africa was facing Mexico. Portugal was paired with the Ivory Coast.And then there was Tuesday’s New Zealand vs. Slovakia game.

At 6:30 a.m.

Since the Wizards were holding a watch party for EVERY game, I grabbed a dozen doughnuts and headed to the Power & Light District for the game. When I got there, I realized I had 12 doughnuts more than I needed.

And the big screen wasn’t quite ready when the national anthems were played, so I went to Johnny’s Tavern and caught the first minute of the game. Then the big screen in the Living Room came to life, so I headed out there. But there was no sound.

No matter, by the seventh minute, Geraldo Garcia ambled in and asked “Who’s playing?” OK, so it was safe to say he’s not a huge New Zealand supporter (which I was rooting for only because I love “Flight of the Conchords.”)

Garcia, as it turns out, is from Mexico originally and now lives in KCK. He became a soccer fan when he went to the World Cup in his native country in 1970.

“I like this better than movies,” Garcia said. “Movies are not entertainment.”

Nor was the early part of this game.

Despite the early start time, a few fans started trickling in and all told there were seven people who stopped to watch the game.

And, one actually had a rooting interest.

Kaleb Sherry was pulling for Slovakia. However, he’s not much of a soccer fan. He just drew Slovakia in the pool that was being run by his girlfriend’s father. His girlfriend, Rachel Bracker, thought it would be fun to catch the game because her friend had New Zealand in the pool.

Alas, the friend was torn between sleep and soccer and the warmth of her bed won out. It was a 6:30 a.m. start.

However, Rachel’s father, Mark, was there. He lived in England as a kid and, because he got off work shortly before the 6:30 a.m. kickoff, he was happy to come out to the watch party.

“I love soccer,” he said, “I’ll watch any game.”

Obviously, if he was there to watch New Zealand-Slovakia.

Brian Solberg also stopped in and gave the biggest cheer (which was more of a yelp) when New Zealand got the equalizer in the 93rd minute.

“I just like watching soccer,” Solberg said.

If there’s any lesson to be learned from getting up at sunrise (and it was a beauty today), it’s that the Wizards deserve credit for taking on this endeavor of showing all 64 World Cup games. There was no sound, but interns Stewart Patrick and Clayton Woodward were on hand to answer questions and tried their best to get the audio problems solved.

Honestly, not listening to John Harkes wasn’t a huge sacrifice. And there were a couple of goals and a handful of fans, which just goes to show if you have a watch party, someone will be there. Even for Slovakia vs. New Zealand.

And did I mention it was at 6:30 in the morning?

| Pete Grathoff,