San Francisco Civic Center Turns Into World Cup Central

World Cup at Civic Center Plaza
Despite losing 1-0 to Germany, U.S. fans celebrated at Civic Center Plaza. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Bay Area soccer fans played hooky from work for a couple hours Thursday morning so they could be in San Francisco’s Civic Center to watch a big-screen broadcast of the U.S. men’s soccer match against Germany. Despite losing 1-0, the USA will advance to the round of 16, thanks to Portugal’s 2-1 victory over Ghana.

Thursday’s crowd was smaller than the one that showed up on Sunday afternoon to watch the American men take on Portugal. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 people watched that game on the big screen. Still, the mood was lively, and the crowd let out a roar of approval when news broke that Cristiano Ronaldo had scored Portugal’s second goal, punching the U.S. team’s ticket to the knockout round.

World Cup at Civic Center Plaza
German fans watch Thursday’s World Cup match at Civic Center Plaza. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

The vast majority of the crowd was cheering on the American side, but supporters of the German team also turned out in large numbers. Matthias Kellersohn and Sascha Gissler were visiting San Francisco from Germany for a business trip, and they caught the game before heading to the airport to fly home. Both were pleased with the game’s outcome, but said they were still disappointed in the German team’s performance and the overall quality of play.

“America is through, we’re through — that’s great. But they played really bad,” said Gissler.

World Cup at Civic Center Plaza
U.S. fans react to a missed scoring opportunity near the end of the game. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Nancy Lindeman traveled from San Carlos to join the Civic Center viewing party, the second World Cup game she’s seen on the big screen. “I came up on BART. Everyone else was going to work, and here I was, coming up here.”

It’s very likely that the Americans will play Belgium in the next round, and Lindeman is optimistic about the U.S. chances. “It’s hard to say, but anything could happen.”

World Cup at Civic Center Plaza
Heavy fog burned off midway through the first half. (Mark Andrew Boyer/KQED)

Mike Dela Cruz said he’s psyched to see the U.S. team advance.

“When the draw came out in December, I was thinking, ‘That’s it, I don’t think we’re going to make it.’ But as long as we’re alive, there’s hope.”

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is planning to screen the semifinals and finals next month.

World Cup at Civic Center Plaza
World Cup fans watch USA versus Germany at Civic Center Plaza. (Mark Andrew Boyer / KQED)

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