With his stunned, vacant eyes staring fixedly on the television screen in disbelief, Sean Hamer hobbled off his bar stool at Green’s Sports Bar on Monday morning, picked up his crutches and slowly limped away while his fuzzy red, white, and blue top hat slouched despairingly atop his head.
It was a scene frustratingly indicative of the United States’ effort in their 2006 World Cup opener against the Czech Republic.
Four years of eager and joyous anticipation, built up from a solid U.S. showing in the 2002 World Cup, quickly dissipated in a overwhelming 3-0 Czech win that left a large and hopeful crowd at Green’s visibly deflated.
“We played a better team today and it showed,” said a despondent Hamer, a network manager at Electronic Data Systems who is recovering from hip surgery. “We played without any urgency today, which was surprising. Hopefully we’ll turn it around in the next couple of games.”
Hamer’s disappointment was clearly mirrored by the fellow attendees at Green’s, located on the corner of Polk and Green streets. A strong crowd numbering more than 30 showed up early Monday morning to catch the soccer action, only to be let down by a flat U.S. effort.
The Czechs scored five minutes into the match, setting the tone for their dominant victory.
“That first goal really seemed to take the energy out of everyone,” said Neel Patel, 29, a lifelong soccer player who is currently employed as a scientific programmer at Exelixis Incorporated in South San Francisco. “We had a really good crowd here, which is great to see, because the World Cup is really getting its due recognition. Unfortunately, it was a disappointing game for us.”
Despite the undesirable outcome, most of the Green’s soccer aficionados were still upbeat about their team’s chances.
“This doesn’t change anything” Patel said. “I’m still going to come out and watch all the games. We can still turn it around.”