American soccer fandom isn’t all bleary-eyed hangovers, though. At bars like Nevada Smiths, you still get all the expatriate soccer nuts but in a less confrontational setting.
“It’s much more friendly,” explains David Reid, 24, a recent college graduate who was visiting a friend from Nottinghamshire and watching his home team get destroyed by Fulham. “The die-hards are at the game, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
Still, the enthusiasm can be very contagious, and things do get raucous. “We’re drinking beer and eating chips at 7:45 a.m.,” says Robert Lewis, 32, a lawyer and a New York native. “It’s great. People go crazy. They chant, they sing.”
Or, as was the case on Feb. 14 at Nevada Smiths, they worship trophies. As in the UEFA Trophy, which was set to make an appearance at the bar at noon.
As the day’s five games wound down — the bar carries 100 live games per week — people continued to flood in. Accents from all over the world spoke slow English so the friendly patrons could understand one another.
When the UEFA Trophy arrived, it was escorted by burly security, which proved to be unnecessary. Fans crowded behind a velvet rope, trying to snap pictures, but a rush to the front wasn’t needed.
One by one, each person was allowed to go up and have his or her picture taken with the trophy. Some pretended to kiss it. Others unfurled flags of their favorite teams. No one was hurried. No one cut in line.
Because, unlike in more soccer-crazy countries, big soccer events in the U.S. don’t cause riots. Club members come to drink, watch games and gently rib the rival club’s fans. But no matter how big the rivalry, the atmosphere is almost always friendly — a stark contrast to that of pubs in England and other countries where bars have begun purchasing shatterproof pint glasses to prevent out-of-control patrons from using the shards in stabbings.
Lewis has been coming to Nevada Smiths for eight years and has seen soccer’s growing popularity firsthand. When he started hanging out there, he saw the same faces every weekend.
“Even if you didn’t know their names, you knew what they drank and the exact spot on the floor where people stood every week,” he says.
Fans would come in with nails and hang their teams’ flags to the walls.
Now, waiting in line to enter is common, and once you’re inside, getting to the bar can be a challenge.
“Five years ago, Nevada Smiths was a hidden gem,” he says. “But now the secret is out. There are 8 million people in New York. If you like soccer, the odds are you’re going there.”
GRAB A SEAT AT THE BAR
No matter what time zone or climate you find yourself in during this year’s World Cup, there will always be a place for you to have a pint and catch a game.
Tim Finnegan’s Irish Restaurant & Pub 9201 N. 29th Ave., Phoenix, (602) 997-2323, www.timfinnegans.com
O’Brien’s Pub 4646 Convoy St., San Diego, (858) 715-1745, www.obrienspub.net
Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta 1780 16th St., Denver, (303) 623-0805, www.anthonyspizzaandpasta.com
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 1735 19th St., Denver, (303) 297-0066, www.fadoirishpub.com/denver
Anna Liffey’s 17 Whitney Ave., New Haven, (203) 773-1776, www.annaliffeys.com
Christy’s on Orange 261 Orange St., New Haven, (203) 777-5454
Tigín Irish Pub 175 Bedford St., Stamford, (203) 353-8444, www.tiginirishpub.com/stamford
Carolina Ale House 2618 Weston Rd., Weston, (954) 217-1233, www.carolinaalehouse.com
Macdinton’s Irish Pub & Restaurant 405 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, (813) 251-8999, www.macdintons.com
Mickey Byrne’s Irish Pub & Restaurant 1921 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (954) 921-317, www.mickeybyrnes.com
Brewhouse Café 401 Moreland Ave., Atlanta, (404) 525-7799, www.brewhousecafe.com
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 273 Buckhead Ave. NE, Atlanta, (404) 841-0066, www.fadoirishpub.com/atlanta
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 100 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, (312) 836-0066, www.fadoirishpub.com/chicago
Small Bar (two locations) 1415 W. Fullerton Ave., (773) 525-2727 or 2049 W. Division St., (773) 772-2727, Chicago, www.thesmallbar.com
Union Park Lounge 228 S. Racine Ave., Chicago, (312) 243-9002, www.unionparkchicago.com
Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll 7 Exchange St., Portland, (207) 773-2469, www.lindabeansperfectmaine.com
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant One Park Place #7, Annapolis, (410) 626-0069, www.fadoirishpub.com/annapolis
The Claddagh Irish Pub 17800 Haggerty Rd., Livonia, (734) 542-8141, www.claddaghirishpubs.com
Sweetwater Bar and Grill 161 St. Anthony Ave., St. Paul, (651) 224-6373
The Dubliner 1025 Washington Ave., St. Louis, (314) 421-4300, www.dublinerstl.com
Tigín Irish Pub 333 Washington Ave., St. Louis, (314) 241-8666, www.tiginirishpub.com
Mulligan’s Pub 159 First St., Hoboken, (201) 876-4101, www.mulligansonfirst.com
Nevada Smiths 74 Third Ave., New York, (212) 982-2591, www.nevadasmiths.net
Wolff’s Biergarten 895 Broadway, Albany, (518) 427-2461, www.wolffsbiergarten.com
Crown & Anchor 1350 E. Tropicana Ave., Las Vegas, (702) 739-8676, www.crownandanchorlv.com
Connolly’s 115 E. Fifth St., Charlotte, (704) 358-9070, www.connollysirishpub.com
CrabTree Tavern 5300 Homewood Banks Dr., Raleigh, (919) 532-7100, www.crabtreetavern.com
The Claddagh Irish Pub 585 S. Front St., Columbus, (614) 224-1560, www.claddaghirishpubs.com
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 4022 Townfair Way, Columbus, (614) 418-0066, www.fadoirishpub.com/columbus
Kells Irish Pub 112 SW Second Ave., Portland, (503) 227-4057, www.kellsirish.com
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 1500 Locust St., Philadelphia, (215) 893-9700, www.fadoirishpub.com/philadelphia
Tír Na Nóg Irish Bar & Grill 1600 Arch St., Philadelphia, (267) 514-1700, www.tirnanogphilly.com
Casa Real 2315 Mount Rushmore Rd., Rapid City, (605) 791-2272
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 14 W. Fourth St., Austin, (512) 457-0172, www.fadoirishpub.com/austin
Summers Restaurant 1520 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington, (703) 528-8278, www.summers-restaurant.com
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 801 First Ave., Seattle, (206) 264-2700, www.fadoirishpub.com/seattle
Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant 808 Seventh St. NW, (202) 789-0066, www.fadoirishpub.com/washington