NASHUA — Soccer fans from around the world and around the corner gathered inside the Peddler’s Daughter Irish Pub to take in Team USA versus Belgium Tuesday afternoon.
While Belgium’s 2-1 victory was a bitter pill to swallow for local fans, most agreed it has been an impressive World Cup season thus far.
“Everybody’s talking about it,” Nashua resident Kate McIlwain said as she kept her boss posted on the latest game highlights via text messages. “I think soccer is finally coming around in the U.S.”
She and her adult son, Jesse, agreed that their love of the sport seems to be echoed by more and more American fans this time around. At a nearby table, Julia Pech, a native of Argentina, was cheering for the U.S. team with some friends from Sweden and Puerto Rico.
Pech agreed that soccer has definitely increased its fan base in the United States over the past decade, much to her delight.
The local mother, who coaches soccer and plays the game herself, said she’s hoping the passion surrounding this year’s World Cup series will filter down to the younger set.
“It’s a wonderful activity for the children,” she said. “And we’re seeing more and more indoor arenas spring up in New England. Which is a wonderful sign.”
Michael Bates, originally from England, said he’d hoped to see the U.S. team move on to the next round.
“Team USA has done better than England this year,” he noted. “First we had Spain, which was rated top in the world but they didn’t make it too far in the World Cup this year.”
Bates attributed the sport’s surging popularity in the States to its universal appeal.
“I think the younger generation is looking for something more active to watch,” he said. “Plus, the World Cup is a big social event. You just can’t beat the energy.”