We Went to Nomad in Milwaukee and saw America Beat Ghana in the World Cup

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Being a sports fan is a calculated risk. The highest highs are possible, but crushing lows are more likely.

I’m a novice soccer fan, I only watch every four years, during the World Cup. Soccer is not a sport we grow up with and not a sport our country excels in, but trust me on this … go to Nomad or Highbury or any other soccer bar before this Cup ends and watch the Americans.

The United States Men’s Soccer team is only certain to play two more matches in this year’s World Cup. What they do on Sunday and then next Thursday will determine if they move on.

If you’re lucky and this team has more magic in it, perhaps you’ll share the joy that millions of Americans–including Mike, Ryan, Adam and I–felt early Monday evening.

Despite knowing Nomad would be packed, Adam led us there because he enjoyed his experience there during the last World Cup and Nomad is one of Milwaukee’s big soccer bars.

We arrived at Nomad about two-and-a-half hours before gametime hoping we would be in time to secure a spot. The colorful Brazil-themed outdoor space was maybe 1/4 full. It was hot out and everyone was donning the Stars and Stripes. We staked our claim to a spot near the bar and in front of one of the six outdoor flat panel televisions.

About an hour before matchtime, I overheard the bouncer letting people know if they left they may not get back in. Though we were croweded together, nearly everyone was in good spirits. If you are gonna go, get there early!

Finally, the moment arrived. We shouted along to the Star-Spangled Banner and then, magically, less than a minute into the game, American Clint Dempsey tucked the ball into the right side of Ghana’s goal. We were more startled than anything – but we overcame and high-fived and chanted “USA!” We wouldn’t see another goal for 80 minutes, but those minutes would be anything but boring.

About 17 minutes in, Jozy Altidore, one of America’s best, went down. I admired the positiveity of my fellow fans when they saw Altidore’s replacement warmed up. The Nomad cheered loudly even though it looked like we lost one of our best players.

We held the lead until halftime, despite a few close calls. Mike and I made a beeline for the bathroom and the wait took us through the break.

When you are clinging to a one goal lead, the clock slows down and the pressure becomes unbearable. Our lead held until the 82nd minute, when Ghana broke though the USA defense and scored the equalizer.

All seemed lost. That familiar crushing feeling crept in. I bemoaned our failure to protect the lead and doubted we could get it back.

Again, the positivity of these diehards startled me. A lone man started their favorite chant and we all shouted in response:

I believe
I believe
I believe that
I believe that
I believe that we
I believe that we
(faster and all together)
I believe that we will win
I believe that we will win
I believe that we will win
I believe that we will win

The USA were on their heels, but mounted an attack that resulted in a corner kick in the 86th minute. One guy I’d never heard of unleashed a beautiful ball that another guy I’d never heard of buried with a header in the back of Ghana’s goal.

Pandemonium in Milwaukee … Euphoria across America! I hugged strangers as beer rained from above while the American team celebrated more than 4,000 miles away. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

It was amazing knowing that this same sense of revelry was happening across the country, and there are videos to prove it.

The US valiently fought off all futher attempts by Ghana to tie the game, and finally the whistle blew and again, we erupted. More hugging. More chanting. More high fives.

Soaked in beer, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. We’d scored an unbelievable goal. We’d held for 80 minutes only to give up the equalizer, and then, from the heavens above, a beautiful, unexpected goal had turned a moment into pure joy and strangers to friends. We were all together … novices and diehards … it didn’t matter, we are Americans and our team won!

So go to Nomad, or Highbury, or anywhere else soccer fans are gathering, and watch the World Cup, and, if we are lucky, if the soccer gods smile upon America again, let it happen; let the joy and excitement overtake you, let the beer rain from above and share this massive high with many of us who will be doing the same.

I’ll be watching and I believe that we will win!

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