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Saturday, June 26, 2010

USA vs Ghana World Cup 2010: Oakland watches Golden Goal



USA vs Ghana World Cup 2010: Oakland watches Gyan's Golden Goal: USA loses 2-1 in OT


And so another nail-biting FIFA World Cup Soccer game ends for the USA, this time the wrong way. The USA lost 2-1 in overtime as this blogger returned to the Era Art Bar on Grand and Broadway in Downtown Oakland, CA for the anticipated single elimination Saturday match. But in the process, Soccer's importance to Americans grew by fantastic proportions, and in no place was this more evident than Oakland, California.

The USA loss was a sad end to a great run by a USA team that wasn't really picked to go far in World Cup competition. But the hustling team paced by USA Soccer star Landon Donovan tied England 1-1 to start match play, then tied Slovenia 2-2 in a controversial match that the USA really won 3-2 but for a mistakenly discounted goal by FIFA referee Koman Coulibaly. Finally the USA won a match, beating Algeria 1-0. All that set up today's exciting overtime win.

The Era Art Bar was packed

Ghana fans were all over Era 
If you arrived at the Era Art Bar at 11 AM and with the idea of getting a seat, you were out of luck; the place was packed.

Kevin Best, the bar's owner, said he was going to open the loft section and that was a good idea if only to have a place to go where one could have some space. But for those who love being in the crowd as things are happening, downstairs at Era Art Bar was the place to be.

The room was surprisingly a bit less "pro USA" than I expected and that reflects not just Oakland's diverse immigrant population, but Americans who simply wanted Ghana to win for various reasons. Some, like my friends Rosa Cabrera and Qaid Aqeel, were torn between USA and Ghana because of their Latino and African heritage, but as Qaid said "It's like James Brown said 'Living in America.'"

Others were clearly for either Ghana or the USA. In the case of Kevin Best, he wanted the USA to win "so this crowd would come back next week." For a time, it looked like he might get his wish.

Michael Hunt celebrates in the air
Ghana took the lead 1-0 to end the first half of match play. But the USA tied 1-1 it in the second half on Landon Donovan's free kick, sending the Era Art Bar crowd into a frenzy. Even the normally stoic Michael Hunt, former aide to Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, got excited, jumping up over the crowd to celebrate.

But by bar regular Rob Pape's detailed analysis, the USA was not playing well enough to win. To say that Pepe, wearing a "USA SOCCER" jersey, was disappointed in USA team manager Bob Bradley is an understatement, and that was at halftime. Pepe said "I'm having trouble watching it, Zennie. Cause I think Bob Bradley put the wrong lineup in. He should have started Adu, at least for Clark. He probably should have started Gomez for Finley. Or at least Buttle for Finley."

Rob Pape offers Soccer wisdom
Rob Pape said that in the last two game we (the USA) started their best lineups and controlled the center of the field. That was not the case today.

The Oakland Era crowd was surprisingly informed about the game of Soccer. But given the popularity of even pick-up games along Lake Merritt, I should expect what I witnessed: Oakland's a Soccer town. Oaklanders know the game.

The USA team lost but won

USA hopes sank on Asamoah Gyan's golden goal in the third minute of extra time, putting them ahead 2-1. This time, there was no miracle goal at the last minute. No loud celebration. But there was the feeling that Ghana deserved to win and that the USA team made America, and Oakland, very proud. It's too bad we have to wait another four years for The World Cup. But as Rob Pape said "Soccer's like life. It doesn't always go your way."

No kiddling.

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