ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – As millions of Americans packed stadiums across the country, Albuquerque also got involved in World Cup fever watching what turned out to be a thrilling, but ultimately disappointing loss for the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
Hundreds of fans helped fill the KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque with a first of its kind watch party with no shortage of emotion from the crowd on-hand.
With roars of excited, rowdy cheering, it wasn’t the kind of crowd most people expect inside the KiMo.
Albuquerque residents and even some from out of town, both young and old turned out at the downtown theatre Tuesday to watch the U.S. take on Belgium in an elimination match.
“This ones been the best World Cup of my lifetime and the first one of his lifetime so its fun to get out and watch games,” said Albuquerque resident Dan Fischer while holding his son Jacob.
And they weren’t alone in feeling the excitement.
“I was so proud that Albuquerque was having a city wide viewing, that’s super,” said Mary Hunter or Birmingham, Alabama.
The ups and downs were felt throughout in the city in places like the KiMo and bars throughout Nob Hill. Shocking some who even went to the World Cup.
“I think it’s really good that U.S. Soccer is reaching out to way bigger crowd in the United States than it was maybe five to 10 years ago,” said Juan Kleban of Albuquerque. Kleban watched the U.S.A. – Portugal game in-person in Brazil.
While soccer hasn’t always been a fan favorite in the U.S., many say they feel that’s changing especially after this game against Belgium.
“Every year it seems like there’s more people that want to watch the games, they’re passionate about it, actually want to watch the game,” said Aaron McCallister of Albuquerque.
The city says more than 500 people watched at the KiMo Theatre Tuesday.
Some of those inevitably may have been playing hooky from work like millions of other Americans who went to impressive watch parties. Chicago’s Soldier Field saw a crowd of thousands.
While it wasn’t the outcome fans hoped for, many say they’re glad there’s so much passion, especially in Albuquerque.
“It’s a great surprise,” said Dan Fischer of Albuquerque.
“Absolutely, I’d like to see them do it somewhere bigger,” said Cole Yarrington of Albuquerque.
“We’re not going to go down, we’re the U.S., we don’t go down easily,” said Mary Hunter of Albuquerque.
The U.S. ended up losing to Belgium 2 to 1. Belgium will now play Argentina in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
The city says this is the first the KiMo Theatre has hosted a soccer game watch party.
Mayor R.J. Berry says he got the idea after people asked him for a family friendly event.