Sunday, July 17, 2011
Updated: July 18, 10:58 AM ET
N.Y. fans shocked by World Cup
By Matt Ehalt
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- As the goal that won Japan the 2011 World Cup hit the back of the net, in the streets of New York City, a crowd of about 400 felt silent.
Just seconds earlier, the crowd that gathered to watch the game in Times Square chanted "USA! USA!" and "Hope!" for goalie Hope Solo, hoping to see her make one more save in the penalty kicks to keep the United State alive.
Once that goal scored, giving Japan its third penalty kick goal in four tries, the once-frenzied crowd just looked up at the screen some 70 feet above them in disbelief.
"I couldn't believe it! I thought we had it in the bag and everything coming down to the wire until that one mistake," said Karim Simmons, a 47-year-old from the Bronx who painted his face red, white and blue for the game to accompany a New York Giants shirt. "Early in the game we had a couple of opportunities and everything. If we would have at least scored a couple of those goals in the first we would have it, but it was those few mistakes and chances that we missed that cost us the game."
The crowd, which included fans seated in metal bleachers as well as those who watched from the street and those sitting in front of the bleachers, also rang cowbells with enthusiasm that would have made Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell proud.
Early in the game, when the United States failed to convert on several good looks, the fans repeatedly screamed "ooh!" and clapped for the effort, but some fans ultimately believed that those missed chances came back to haunt the women.
"The US had a lot of opportunities to score and if they had, it would have been a blowout," said Sante Scorcia, a 47-year-old from New York who watched the game with his four daughters.
He added in reference to the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan earlier this year: "Maybe Japan needed it more.This game really means a lot to the people in Japan and it's kind of like when New Orleans won the Super Bowl. That meant a lot of New Orleans.
There's always a silver lining so hopefully this inspires Japan which is a great country to really come back."
When Japan scored each of its goals, first in the 80th minute and second in the 117th minute of overtime, with the United States mere minutes from the title, the crowd once again was silent, with fans holding their hands to their faces.
One fan, Chris Kane, a 16-year-old from Westchester County who had a flag wrapped around his neck and watched the game with a couple of his friends, said he told his friends when the game was in overtime that the game would be decided by Solo, whether it meant stopping Japan in the second overtime or in the penalty kicks.
When Japan scored on three of its four kicks, while the United States went just 1-for-4, Kane found himself stunned over what just happened.
"It was shocking they beat Hope, but it was more shocking that we put (just one) of our penalty kicks in," Kane said. "It was just a disappointment."
While the game didn't end the way the fans had hoped, a handful of fans each enjoyed being with other fans and watching the game together. They had a feeling of unity and togetherness as they watched the game and found it exciting to be together with so many fans.
"This was definitely a great experience," Kane said. "It would have been better if they won but it was fun."
Added Kane: "I'm definitely proud of the team but it's extremely disappointing to see them go out in the finals. They had the lead twice."
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.