Connolly’s on 5th has great World Cup atmosphere

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If you can’t quite make it to South Africa this year to catch some World Cup action first hand, Connolly’s on 5th Street in Uptown offers up an authentic Irish pub atmosphere for a celebration of the world’s biggest sports tournament. It is one of only 18 “official” U.S. Soccer bars in the country recognized by the U.S. Soccer Federation that televise every match that the U.S. competes in.

The World Cup of soccer only comes around every four years, so parties of this magnitude are worth checking out — even for the most moderate of sports fans or partygoers. To be a crazed soccer fan thirsty for a pint and even thirstier for some “real football” action will help your attempt at mingling and fitting in, because that’s what you’re going to find in every stool, corner and every other square inch of this little Irish niche. Of course, everyone is welcomed — just be prepared to be immersed into a true pub atmosphere where pints of Guinness flow rampantly and soccer is always coerced into the conversation.

Last Saturday, old but friendly rival England came calling first for the Yanks. Fans had been ready for this match-up for six months. On the day of this much anticipated contest, Connolly’s came prepared. The first group of American fans was there at 6:55 a.m. for the first game of the day. (Connolly’s is open every day at 7 a.m. for the group stage of the tournament and will gladly serve you coffee or any other beverage of your choice.) USA vs. England wasn’t until 2:30 p.m., yet fans slowly trickled through the morning hours wearing United States soccer garb.

Two guys came draped in American flags and covered with “Stars and Stripes” face paint to support their team. Man, woman, and an occasional child bore jerseys of their favorite American players — Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Jozy Altidore were well represented. All day long chants of “USA, USA” engulfed the room. A country’s pride for their team bubbled over.

Of course, a few England fans showed their faces and jerseys as the day progressed — this which was always met with boos of discontentment. In order to have a good showing of fans, though, it’s good to have both sides represented, even as a minority. It makes the party even livelier.

Finally, game time approached and the match was underway. The upstairs and downstairs of the bar were packed wall-to-wall, elbow-to-elbow. The energy in the place was electric, palpable almost. Every fan from both sides were oohing and aahing in reaction to each play and counter play from the competing teams.

The Brits scored in the 4th minute unexpectedly to take an early lead. The ever resilient Americans struck back when Dempsey scored right before halftime on a mishandled ball by the English keeper. The place erupted in a unified celebration (with the exception of the English fans, of course). The score was 1-1, and it stayed that way for the remainder of the match. Not a bad result for the Yanks, considering the overall quality of the English squad.

For a beer in your hand, soccer chants in your ear, true World Cup action, come check out Connolly’s on 5th for the length of the tournament. You’ll want to change your last name to O’Hanahan and behave like soccer hooligan. Enjoy!

The U.S. plays Slovenia in Group C action on Friday, June 18 at 10 a.m., and Algeria on Wednesday, June 23 at the same time.

— Chris Triplett

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