EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The United States national soccer team lost a close one in its FIFA World Cup match against Germany Thursday, but the team is advancing to the knockout round and advancing the sport in Wisconsin.
Despite the loss, Team USA's chances and enthusiasm for soccer are alive and well throughout the world and in the Chippewa Valley. Whether that excitement will last, is yet to be seen.
Fans packed Buffalo Wild Wings in Eau Claire to watch the big game.
“These people are as excited for soccer as much as they are for football at this point. So that's pretty crazy,” soccer fan Thane Berg said.
“I hear people that typically wouldn't be talking about soccer or might have even made comments negatively toward soccer that are all of the sudden going, 'Man it's fun seeing the competitive nature and how the world embraces it,’” Eau Claire Memorial High School Girls Soccer Coach Scott DeRusha said.
That excitement is netting interest in the youth game. Young players with Eau Claire United, have been studying the games to learn new moves, and others are looking for a place to play.
“It's really cool what good footwork they have and I always want to keep watching them and maybe some of that will rub off on me,” eight-year-old player Simon Twite said.
“When I was playing soccer, a lot of them were talking about it and kids that didn’t' really play and they were talking about it so it seems like they want to try it now,” Christopher Yengo, who last played for a U-10 team with Eau Claire United said.
“Our camp is almost full at this point, which is probably a couple weeks earlier than normal,” UWEC Head Soccer Coach Sean Yengo said.
Some were even motivated to get out and play at the Eau Claire Soccer Park.
“Just seeing the pros do it so well makes you kind of want to get out there and see how well you can do it,” soccer player Kevin Hertog said.
“World cup fever; everybody gets into it. Whether it will last though, that's yet to be seen,” soccer fan Quinn Wagner said.
Team USA plays its first game in the elimination round on Tuesday at 3:00 P.M. CST. People can find opportunities to play with Eau Claire Parks and Recreation, who have open soccer for adults at the Eau Claire Soccer Park on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m., and at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center year-round.