Proudly carrying U.S. flags, people from not just the Bay Area but all around the country gathered Tuesday at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco to watch the World Cup soccer game against Belgium.
“I’m proud how the U.S. team represents us no matter the outcome of the game,” said the self-proclaimed optimistic and realistic Jeff Evans, 47, of Salt Lake City. Evans was in town on vacation and decided to watch the game at the plaza.
The sea of soccer fans that filled the plaza brought with them a buzz and energy, hoping to witness a victory and keep the U.S. team alive.
Adam Thomson, a 21-year-old die-hard soccer fan from Petaluma, was one of them. He said he was there “to feel the atmosphere and the crowd that’s symbolic of nationality.”
Steve Hall, 32, of Dublin, took the day off from work for the game and even arranged for his family to join him.
“We wanted to be part of the huge crowd that gathered here to support the national team,” Hall said.
Belgium came out stronger than the U.S. in the early going, putting pressure on U.S. goalie Tim Howard. Steve Hamlin, 30, vacationing in The City from North Carolina, said Howard’s “amazing goalkeeping” kept the U.S. in the game for the first 90 minutes, when the score was 0-0.
The crowd was mostly filled with U.S. fans, but San Francisco being a tourist mecca of sorts meant that a few Belgium faithful made their way to Civic Center Plaza on Tuesday. One of those was Fred Maillevx, a 44-year-old from Brussels. As he envisioned before play started, the game was a close one. And despite being among very few Belgium fans, Maillevx enjoyed the “fantastic atmosphere and the nice weather.”
Some 10 to 12 police officers and another 10 to 15 Park Rangers made sure to keep the peace, even though most fans were behaving well, said police Sgt. M. Moreno. That was even the case by the end, when the U.S. was ultimately knocked out of play after losing 2-1 in extra time.