Whether reveling in rousing victory or wallowing in crushing defeat, there's something to be said for watching a sporting event surrounded by fans rooting for the same side. And in international competitions, rooting for one's country brings out the joy and the agony like no other, a sense of national unity and patriotism underlying the existing support for a favorite team.
So it was Tuesday at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub in Anchorage, where a sold-out house packed the seats and tables to watch the U.S. Men's National Team go against Belgium in the knockout round of the World Cup. A few Belgium fans in attendance voiced their support for that European nation, but as would be expected at a showing of the game in one of the 50 United States, the vast majority of spectators were rooting for the U.S., some clad in face paint, capes, or red, white and blue livery to show their support.
After 90 scoreless minutes, and a flurry of spectacular saves by American goalkeeper and man of the match Tim Howard, the game went into overtime. The U.S. eventually lost 2-1, with all three goals coming in the half-hour of extra time tacked on at the end of the hard-fought game. The U.S. supporters experienced the heartbreak of a tough loss that sends them home for four more years, while Belgian backers could celebrate their advancement to the next round of the tournament in hopes of winning it all.