Long Island fans revel in USA's World Cup 'victory'
If you've watched a United States soccer match during this World Cup, there's a strong chance you've heard this chant: "I believe . . . I believe that . . . I believe that we . . . I believe that we will win!"
Wearing a U.S. jersey as he stood with a drink in each hand and sweat pouring down his face Thursday afternoon at Plattduetsche Park in Franklin Square, Justin White -- leading a group of soccer supporters who poured out of the family-friendly restaurant and beer garden moments after the U.S. lost, 1-0, to Germany -- attempted to put a new spin on the chant:
"I believe . . . I believe that . . . I believe that we . . . I believe that we will lose and still advance!"
The Valley Stream resident's chant didn't quite catch on, although it was received by many smiles and loud screams. That's because despite the loss, the U.S. did advance to the knockout stage of the World Cup. The U.S. faces Belgium on Tuesday in the Round of 16.
"And, honestly, you couldn't have signed up for an odder way for this to happen," said Marty Johnsen of Garden City.
This is what Johnsen was alluding to: On Sunday, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo had the assist in the final seconds that stole away a United States victory. And on Thursday, Ronaldo scored one of the biggest goals in U.S. soccer history.
Let us explain: The U.S. trailed Germany 1-0 in Recife, Brazil. About 850 miles away in Brasilia, Ghana was one goal away from knocking the Americans out of the World Cup. But Ronaldo's goal produced a 2-1 win that allowed Portugal to finish pool play with four points, same as the United States. The U.S. advanced from the group with a superior goal differential.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is an American hero today, baby!" Johnsen said. "When I heard he scored, it was just an incredible feeling at that point."
An estimated crowd of more than 1,000 people, many wearing U.S. soccer jerseys or draped in American flags, flocked to Plattduetsche Park, one of several establishments on Long Island that showcased the noon match. Beer, sweat and loud chanting at noon? Yes -- and lots of all three.
Many found a way to take the day off from work, including Zach Weinstein, a resident of Franklin Square.
"We got drawn into the 'group of death' and nobody thought we were going to make it through, but we did," said a clearly overjoyed Weinstein, wearing a U.S. bandanna on his head and red, white and blue paint on his face. "We certainly did. We got a win, got a tie, got a loss, but that happens. We're going through. This is magic right here."