"I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!"
The now-familiar U.S. soccer mantra was chanted over and over again as a horde of hundreds at Lucky's Pub cheered for coach Jurgen Klinsmann's team in its World Cup knockout round match. Fans stood on chairs, tables, anything they could find really, to see the big screen amongst the sea of people in the shadow of the Houston Dynamo's stadium.
Buckets of beer and massive food trucks served the vocal American fans as they yelled and chanted "USA! USA! USA!" over and over again. The U.S. team would fall to favored Belgium 2-1 in extra time despite goalie Tim Howard's American heroics, ending its World Cup run. But this scene seemed even bigger than one game.
Buckets of beer and massive food trucks served the vocal American fans as they yelled and chanted "USA! USA! USA!" over and over again.
Even the heat didn't stop a mass of suddenly rabid soccer fans from being outside cheering on their team in Houston's oppressive summer heat. Some fans had been at Lucky's since 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, a good five hours before game time.
Houstonian Nedet Vega — who claims to be the No. 1 U.S. soccer fan (she has a lot of new company there) — has been watching the World Cup all along. "No matter what happens, I am still so proud of the USA for getting this far," Vega says.
Vega was among hundreds of other sweaty cheering soccer fans this day. Not that there weren't some snafus among the fun. When I finally made it through the sea of people, I got to the entrance of Lucky's and couldn't wait to escape the heat, only to find out I wasn't allowed in because I am under 21.
No matter. There's always the monster screen outside. And sweaty fandom.
World Cup fever began much earlier in the day in Houston, with nationally and locally owned restaurants letting their own fans know what's NOT on the breakfast menu: Belgium waffles.
Waffle House started the charge for the doughy ban with tweets such as "We support America. We don't support Belgian waffles."
Locally, Adair Kitchen followed shortly after that, posting a sign of its offerings for the morning with the tagline: Belgian waffles not included. More local establishments joined in, including Saint Dane's Bar & Grille, which wrote on its marque: "Send the Belgians Home. Keep the Waffles."
Just another ordinary day? Hardly. It was another new soccer day.
Barbara Kuntz contributed to this report.