Westport neighbors gathered with about 500 of their closest friends Saturday to watch the United States take on England in the World Cup. The Westport Soccer Association held its first World Cup Day at Staples High School, and fans watched the game on a big screen at the Staples High School auditorium.
"This is what the World Cup is about,'' Staples soccer coach Dan Woog said. "It's sharing what the world shares. Soccer is a global game. This was a microcosm of the World Cup."
Woog and Rick Yu, a longtime Westport Soccer Association director, helped organize the day along with other WSA volunteers, according to league president Wes Malowitz. He said nearly 600 fans pre-registered for the event, and the actual attendance topped out at around 500. "We had a great turnout,'' Malowitz said. "We had no idea how many people we'd have."
Children showed up in shirts that showed off their heritage. Some wore U.S. soccer jerseys, while others wore the colors of teams such as Ireland, England, Italy, Argentina and Portugal. The Athletic Shoe Factory, Mitchell's, Dream Spa and Mickey Kydes Enterprises supported the event along with The Gudis Family Foundation. "A lot of people contributed to get the excitement going on,'' Yu said. "Soccer is such a big part of the town."
Fans erupted when Clint Dempsey scored in the 40th minute for the U.S. to give the team a 1-1 tie. The crowd drew anxious on several close calls in the second half when each team narrowly missed converting golden opportunities.
Viewers could also purchase refreshments and merchandise. Few towns in America share Westport's passion for soccer, and the World Cup Day provided further evidence of that. "The day couldn't have better,'' Malowitz said. "It was our last day of our recreational season, and when they finished playing they came over here to watch them play for their country. It was just a great day."
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