Ahead of key US game, American fans catch soccer fever

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 01, 2014 23:42 hrs

American soccer fans decked out in red, white and blue were expected to flock to stadiums and giant TV screens on Tuesday to cheer their national team in a World Cup clash with Belgium that could be the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.

Strong performances by the U.S. team in Brazil have ignited passions in a country not known for its love of soccer. That excitement will peak if the supposed underdogs can triumph in Salvador and advance to the tournament's quarter-finals.

Free viewing parties were planned from coast to coast and fans got ready to cram into sports bars and restaurants at 4 p.m EDT (2000 GMT).

Showing the spread of World Cup fever in areas obsessed with a different sort of football, even the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys - the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas - invited fans to watch on one of the biggest video screens in the world.

Thousands were expected at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and many of them were planning to warm up for the game at tailgate parties in the stadium's parking lot.

U.S. captain Clint Dempsey's major league soccer team, the Seattle Sounders, called supporters to a viewing party at the city's CenturyLink field.

President Barack Obama has led a Team USA cheer squad that includes America's biggest sports stars and celebrities.

With Tuesday's winners at Salvador's Fonte Nova arena progressing to face Argentina or Switzerland in the World Cup's quarter-finals, fans of U.S. soccer bubbled with excitement.

The official U.S. soccer Twitter account, @ussoccer, advised fans to drink tea "so your vocal chords are 100 percent game day ready," and to practice chants in the mirror.

It also encouraged them to clear their afternoon schedule while not forgetting to leave an out-of-the-office message on their email, and to paint their faces red, white and blue.

"Don't be afraid to layer it on thick," @ussoccer said.

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