US-Portugal World Cup draw a roller-coaster for local fans
PITTSFIELD -- Normally the infamous vuvuzela (a horn made popular during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which has been banned from this year's games) isn't allowed in a movie theater.
However, for Berkshire County residents, Sunday's viewing party of the United States-Portugal World Cup match at the Beacon Theater, gave viewers a stadium-like atmosphere complete with vuvuzelas.
U.S. supporters decked out in red, white and blue nearly packed theaters two and three to watch the 2-2 draw with Portugal. The Adams ‘American Outlaws' chapter did the same at the Polish National Alliance.
For Lenox resident Aaron Kalischer-Coggins, the Beacon provided a place to cheer for the Americans while avoiding some of the shenanigans from rowdy fans at sports bars.
"It's more spacious [at the Beacon], and in a sports bar generally you're getting stuff spilled on you and having a lot of people bumping in to you," he said.
Beacon General Manager John Valente said the theater has held free viewing parties for major sporting events including the 2010 World Cup, the 2011 Women's World Cup and Patriots' Super Bowl games.
Last Monday, when the U.S. beat Ghana 2-1, the Beacon had a viewing party in one theater. With the nation's current soccer craze and because the game was on a weekend day, Valente decided more space was needed.
"The first USA game we completely filled one theater, and since we thought this game was of more importance, we'd wanted to open up another theater," he said.
With ample seating and drink holders in each seat, drink spillage was at a minimum.
The Beacon was also accommodating for Sarah Marshall of Pittsfield and her party of 15 friends and family members.
"It feels like you're there in the arena," she said. "Much more camaraderie. Everyone is cheering. ... I don't think there will be any fights either."
The game provided a roller-coaster of emotions. Before everyone had found a seat, Portugal took a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game on a goal from Nani.
For the remainder of the first half, the anticipation rose for every attempted shot, and especially when Portugal superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo touched the ball.
Clint Dempsey's go-ahead goal with nine minutes left in regulation sent the crowd into a frenzy. From then on, every clearance by the U.S. defense drew joyous applause. And then, with everyone ready to celebrate a victory, Portugal sucked the air out of the building. After being held in check the entire game, Ronaldo found Varela for a game-tying header in the final seconds of extra time.
The crowd groaned in disbelief, and just like that, the game was over. Some fans stayed in the seats staring blankly at the screen, while others began quietly filing out of the theater. Many knowledgable fans sensed that Ronaldo would have an impact sooner or later.
"He's a such a star, I kind of want [Ronaldo] to do something excellent, but at the same time you're cheering for the USA, so you want him to mess up in that sense," Smit Mahida of Great Barrington said at halftime.
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